Reflecting on Matthew 26:14-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54
Okay, can we please talk about something? It’s that responsorial psalm today, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? We sing it over and over after the first reading, and then we have to hear it again in the reading of Matthew’s Passion, when Jesus quotes from that very psalm (22) in his last agonizing breaths on the cross.
I hate that. It hurts me every time I hear it, and have to contemplate that Jesus, in his last moments, experienced the betrayal of the Father. But finally, after years of uneasiness with that portrayal of Jesus’ death, I learned something that healed that hurt immediately, and I wished someone had told me decades earlier what I now pass on to you:
In his agony, Jesus the Jew calls out the beginning verse of that well-known psalm of lament: My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? There are some women “standing at a distance” who have followed him since he set out from Galilee to Jerusalem. They surely know this psalm, and in synagogue style they respond to his introduction by reciting the rest of it, all 31 verses, including the triumphant end, when the suffering one proclaims that all will proclaim the Lord to generations still to come, his righteousness to a people yet unborn. AMEN.
Jesus the Faithful One knows that he has not been betrayed, that the Father’s great love will be proclaimed to all generations forever. He calls out the first verse Psalm 22 with his last breaths, knowing that “those standing at a distance’—and that’s us, too, isn’t it?―will respond by praying the rest of the psalm for him. Jesus knows how it ends, and how it all will end. Forever and ever. AMEN.
Is there a psalm, a song, a Scripture or a prayer that will be on your lips as you die?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).