10 April, 2020

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

~ Psalm 21 ~

Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 31; Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9; John 18:1-19,42

Today we remember Jesus’ Passion. This began in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he struggled in prayer with what lay ahead of him. He knew that the time had come for him to face Pontius Pilate, Herod, the Pharisees, the Chief Priests and, finally, his own torture, crucifixion and death. His time of prayer in the garden confirmed death was imminent. Jesus, knowing about his suffering, is heartbroken. His disciples also felt some of his sorrow, but it is too much for them and so they were unable to stay present to him in the Garden and fell asleep.


At times, our lives have “Garden of Gethsemane” moments. I believe many people have experienced “the garden time”. The work that I do in the townships of South Africa often leaves me with the question, “Where is God?” As I listen to people talk about their pain and sorrow, I see how we suffer like Jesus suffered. But I also see how, when we open ourselves to his suffering, our own experience of suffering is changed.


It is often when we are most hurt that we can feel most abandoned by our friends, and left alone. Our suffering may be too frightening for others to want to notice. From these experiences of suffering and brokenness we know that sometimes Jesus is the only one who can reach out to us.


How does one comfort or console a person carrying such pain? What can I offer to someone in pain or distress? When I listen to a painful story, I know that only Jesus, who understands loss, because of his own experience, can reach them.


Because we are Christians, we have the possibility of bringing our pain to Jesus in his suffering and death. In sharing our pain with Jesus something is redeemed and our own pain is lessened. Like Jesus we continue to carry the scars of our experience, but we are no longer trapped by it. Today we might notice some of our on scars, we entrust them to Jesus who too bears the scars of human pain and misery.




Today as we remember your death on the cross, we ask you to hold and console us.


We pray in particular for those who are in profound pain and have given up on life.


May they find you in the depths of their pain and may your transforming love console them.




Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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