Every Jewish mother teaches her son or daughter to say these words before going to bed, expressing his or her trust in God, “Father, into your hands I command my spirit”. Jesus on the Cross at the last minute of his life said the same words having the glimpses of the presence of his Father. He reached this stage after a great struggle, feeling the absence of his Father and abandonment of him to the power of darkness. He cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”. This prayer is taken from Ps – 22 which moves from absence to presence from losing to gaining, from complaining to praising.
To the cry of Jesus, there was no response. There was only silence. Silence does not mean absence. There is no area of life falls outside the presence and activity of God. The human tragedy and failure are today revealed to be within the compass of divine activity and transformation. Jesus on the Cross, in his own unique way, expresses the paradox of the mystery of life.
There are moments in our life, when God seemed to be absent, but in the inner ground he is most present. In a similar way, the silence of God at Calvary did not denote absence. On the contrary, silence and signs, darkness and light, suffering and joy were the very location of God’s creative presence and activity. In today’s world we see hatred and revenge, poverty and exploitation, ecological and nuclear holocausts, darkness and despair which seem to engulf the hearts of men. In such a situation we are invited to look into the darkness and gloom in a new and creative way. Jesus on the Cross showed us the way. We have to struggle together with Jesus against the forces of darkness. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Romero, Mother Theresa etc encountered darkness of the power of evil. But they did not give way to despair, they became a beacon of light, the glimpses of the presence of God and his activity. One person can make a difference to the world for the better.
It was precisely at this moment when Jesus apparently felt totally abanded by God His Father, that He felt an un-expected sense of deliverance and freedom and said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Lk23/46). Outward calamity is transformed into supreme and unshakable trust and joy. The commitment of Jesus on the Cross has given us new life. Suffering is beneficial when it leads to some kind of Resurrection within us, when strength or a sleeping energy is aroused, when unknown talents are recognized, when clarity about life’s purpose and direction become clear and when strong sense of compassion for others deepens within. It is here that we will be able to discover resilience, vitality, fidelity, love and endurance. It is through our wounds that God opens the gate to fullness. God indeed has enabled us to do more than we ever imagined possible. In those events of our lives God has shown to us periodic or even sporadic glimpses of His presence, even in the desert times of our lives. In spite of the apparent abandonment and hopelessness, God has shown us a way of hope of new life. If we take one step, He will take ten steps. Let us keep the flames of hope ever burning.
Most Rev. Dr. M. Devadass Ambrose
Bishop of Thanjavur