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General Audience: Pope reflects on prayer of Jesus on the Cross

2012-02-08

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I want to reflect with you on the cry of Jesus from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  This cry comes after a three-hour period when there was darkness over the whole land.  Darkness is an ambivalent symbol in the Bible – while it is frequently a sign of the power of evil, it can also serve to express a mysterious divine presence. Just as Moses was covered in the dark cloud when God appeared to him on the mountain, so Jesus on Calvary is wrapped in darkness.

Even though the Father appears to be absent, in a mysterious way his loving gaze is focused upon the Son’s loving sacrifice on the Cross.  It is important to realize that Jesus’ cry of anguish is not an expression of despair:  on the contrary, this opening verse of Psalm twenty-two conveys the entire content of the psalm, it expresses the confidence of the people of Israel that despite all the adversity they are experiencing, God remains present among them, he hears and answers his people’s cry.  This prayer of the dying Jesus teaches us to pray with confidence for all our brothers and sisters who are suffering, that they too may know the love of God who never abandons them.

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from England, Ireland, Norway and the United States of America.  I extend a special welcome to the many students who are here, and I pray that your studies may serve to deepen your knowledge and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Whatever darkness you experience in your lives, may you always remain firm in faith, hope and love.  May God bless all of you!