The amazing thing is that in the midst of dying, as he hung upon the cross, Jesus knew he was not abandoned; that the One who sent him was with him. And precisely because he knew this he cried out to that One in prayer, praying Psalm 22, the opening verse which begins with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That psalm does not end in abandonment and death but rather in triumph, “they will proclaim his righteousness, to a people yet unborn. He has done it!” For the faithful Jew, Jesus’ praying of the 22nd Psalm, as he died upon the cross, would have made total sense...the psalm moves from fear of abandonment to the proclamation “He has done it!”....I have not been abandoned!
It is also of note that the next Psalm, the 23rd Psalm, is the Psalm of the Good Shepherd...”The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want...even though I walk through the valley of death”. The message is that even in the midst of suffering and death we are not abandoned; our God is with us! And we celebrate this each time we celebrate the Eucharist. We retell this very story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and are strengthened by His very presence to go into the world and proclaim the Good News!
We gather for Eucharist in good times and in bad -- in the midst of a horror of a pandemic, in the midst of sorrow and in the midst of joy -- strengthened in our discipleship to go forth as Christ-bearers into a wounded world desperately in need of forgiveness and healing.
We are called to be that healing presence, that presence of peace in the midst of fear and war, that presence of open arms in the face of rejection and discrimination. We are the ones called to continue the work of Christ in the world to- day. Be it working to end gun violence, or to end racism and bigotry or working towards a just immigration policy that recognizes the sacredness of family or speaking out to end all forms of discrimination based on gender, or age or sexual orientation or “otherness.”
All of these are sins we are called to call out and work to eradicate from our society. Just as Jesus opened wide his arms on the cross so as to embrace the entire world in his love, so too we are called to open wide our arms and embrace “the other”! Who is “the other” that I am being called to embrace, to include, to stand with, and to walk with?