Is there anything worse than feeling godforsaken even for a minute? As fully human, as the “Son of Man,” the new Adam, Jesus identifies with all of humanity: prostrate, down, fallen in our suffering.
What we have in faith is not the promise that we not suffer. It is rather the assurance that no matter what we suffer or how down we are, Our Lord is there with us. He is present even in our godforsakenness. And he feels horrible with us.
Good Friday presents not so much a question of whether we can identify with Jesus on the cross, but whether we believe his is with us on our cross. This is what the writer Blaise Pascal meant when he wrote in the Pensees, “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.” It is also key to understanding Good Friday’s great petitionary prayers.
This Catholic Church, so disunited, so timid in its witness, our clergy and hierarchy, often so humbled and inadequate; our laity often so deprived of focus and recognition; the Christian communities so divided and ineffectual; our Jewish brother and sisters, seemingly powerful yet under siege: Indeed, let us pray. Need we say anything of Islam and its children? Need we remember those who think God is a joke? And what might be said of those in public office, their pretenses, their aspirations?
Where is God for the homeless and undocumented, the human dregs of Darfur, the wasting bodies afflicted with AIDS, the uninsured, the unborn, the brain-damaged who are called vegetables, the criminals who are called animals, those dispossessed by floods and landslides?
Were these “least” humans all there when they crucified Our Lord? That might be some consolation, but far more consoling is the fact that he is there in their crucifixion. Even in our crucifixion, God is with us.