My God, My God! Why Have You Forsaken Me?

My God, My God! Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Chris Breslin
Matthew 27:45-54

Icon Depicting 21 Coptic Christian Martyrs

Icon Depicting 21 Coptic Christian Martyrs

Crucifixion by William Congdon

Crucifixion by William Congdon

Buchenwald Camp (A young Ellie Wiesel is second to the bottom left)

Buchenwald Camp (A young Ellie Wiesel is second to the bottom left)

“When Jesus died asking questions, we learn that Jesus not only took on our flesh and blood but also our nervous systems. He came not only giving us answers; he also came asking our questions, and questions seem weaker than exclamations. Jesus has been redefining strength his whole life.” –Fr. Raymond Brown

“It is not in rage but in prayer that Jesus screamed his loud cry, even as the martyrs in Revelation 6:10 shouted with a loud cry their prayer for God to intervene.” –Fr. Raymond Brown

“Only one life, the life of Jesus, has been the perfect prayer the Psalms are meant to form.” –Stanley Hauerwas

He didn’t answer. He was weeping. His body was shaking. Everybody around us was weeping. Someone began to recite Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. I don’t know whether, during the history of the Jewish people, men have ever before recited Kaddish for themselves.

“Yishgadal, veyiskadash, shmey raba… May His name be celebrated and sanctified…” whispered my father.

For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?

We continued our march. We were coming closer and closer to the pit, from which an infernal heat was rising. Twenty more steps. If I was going to kill myself, this was the time. Our column had only some fifteen steps to go. I bit my lips so that my father would not hear my teeth chattering. Ten more steps. Eight. Seven. We were walking slowly, as one follows a hearse, our own funeral procession. Only four more steps. Three. There it was now, very close to us, the pit and its flames. I gathered all that remained of my strength in order to break rank and throw myself onto the barbed wire. Deep down, I was saying goodbye to my father, to the whole universe, and against my will, I found myself whispering the words: “Yisgadal veyiskadash shmey raba…May His name be celebrated and sanctified…” My heart was about to burst. There. I was face-to-face with the Angel of Death…–Elie Wiesel

The Death of the Messiah by Raymond Brown

Matthew: Churchbook by F.D. Bruner

Night by Elie Wiesel

Further Lenten Reading

God is on the Cross by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sweet Deliverance: A Lenten Reader ed Chris Breslin

The Death of the Messiah by Raymond Brown

Living the Christian Year by Bobby Gross

Cross-Shattered Christ by Stanley Hauerwas

He Became Like Us: Christ’s Identification with Man by Carlyle Marney

Death on a Friday Afternoon by Richard John Neuhaus

God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent & Easter ed Greg Pennoyer

The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross by Arthur Pink

Abiding (Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2013 Lent Book) by Ben Quash

The Seven Last Words from the Cross by Fleming Rutledge

Listening at Golgotha: Jesus’ Words from the Cross by Peter Storey

Looking Through the Cross (Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2014 Lent Book) by Graham Tomlin

In God’s Hands (Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2015 Lent Book) by Desmond Tutu

Passion and Power (Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2007 Lent Book) by Sam Wells

Thank God it’s Friday by Will Willimon


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