By Kathleen Naab
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that Jesus' prayer on the cross -- "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" -- is a reminder that in prayer, we must also move beyond our own problems and present to God the needs and sufferings of others.
The Pope made this invitation today during the general audience held in Paul VI Hall, in which he continued with his series of catechesis on prayer, taking up today Jesus' prayer as death was imminent.
Mark and Matthew give an account of the prayer of the dying Jesus not only in Greek, the language in which their Gospels were written, but also in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, the Holy Father noted. "In this way, they have handed down not only the substance but even the sound this prayer had on the lips of Jesus: We truly listen to the words of Jesus as they were."
The Pontiff explained how the prayer that Jesus voices is the beginning of Psalm 22, "in which the psalmist manifests before God the tension between feeling left alone, and the sure awareness of God's presence among his people."
"The psalmist speaks of a 'cry' in order to express all the suffering of his prayer before a seemingly absent God: In extreme anguish, prayer becomes a cry," Benedict XVI reflected. "And this also happens in our relationship with the Lord: When faced with the most difficult and painful situations, when it seems that God is not listening, we need not fear entrusting to him the entire weight of what we carry in our hearts; we need not fear crying out to him in our suffering; we must be convinced that God is near, even when he appears to be silent.
"In repeating from the Cross the opening words of the psalm: 'Eloì, Eloì, lamà sabachthani?' -- 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Matthew 27:46); in crying out in the words of the psalm, Jesus is praying in the moment of man's final rejection, in the moment of abandonment. However, he is praying the psalm in the awareness that God the Father is present, even in this hour when he feels the human drama of death."
Victory of love
Benedict XVI explained how in this moment of prayer, Jesus suffers in communion with all people.
"In that moment, Jesus makes his own the whole of Psalm 22, the great psalm of the suffering people of Israel, and so he is taking upon himself not only the tribulation of his people, but also of all people who suffer under the oppression of evil -- and, at the same time, he brings all of this before the heart of God himself, in the certainty that his cry will be heard in the Resurrection," the Pope stated.
Christ's is a suffering "in communion with us and for us that is born of love and already includes redemption, the victory of love," he added.
The Holy Father reflected that we also "find ourselves again and again faced with the 'here and now' of suffering, of the silence of God -- we so often express it in our prayer -- and yet, we also find ourselves before the 'here and now' of the Resurrection, of the response of a God who took our sufferings upon himself, so that he might carry them together with us, and give us the sure hope that they will be overcome."
And in this context, the Pope drew out a lesson. "Dear friends," he said, "in prayer let us bring our daily crosses to God, in the certainty that he is present and listens to us. The cry of Jesus reminds us that in prayer we must overcome the barriers of our 'I' and of our problems in order to open ourselves to the needs and sufferings of others. The prayer of the dying Jesus on the Cross teaches us to pray with love for all our brothers and sisters who are feeling the burden of daily life, who are living through difficult moments, who are in pain, who receive no word of comfort; let us bring all of this before the heart of God, so that they may feel the love of God, who never abandons us."
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