By Frances Csarny
I will be the first to tell you that I am no expert on Jesus, God, or religion. My interpretations of scriptures and spirituality may not be ‘right’ in theological circles, but they are what pours out of my heart at different moments in time.
I admit, my own faith journey has limited interactions with the scriptures.
Other than attending mass and retreats, the scriptures are not a part of my daily prayer routine. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy hearing the word of God and am moved by many parables and stories from the Bible. There are multiple Sundays where the readings are so routine that I continue to be surprised when I leave with a new message from such familiar words. Psalm Sunday’s Gospel reading is one of those times.
I have heard the Passion of the Lord more than a dozen times over my life. This year, I really sat with Matthew’s words and found two phrases Jesus uses that stood out to me.
The first is “You have said so” which Jesus uses at three different times in the Gospel.
This is Jesus’ reply to Judas’ question about not being the disciple who will betray him. This is also Jesus’ response to the high priest who wants Jesus to confirm he is Christ, the Son of God and to the governor questioning if Jesus is the king of the Jews. To me, Jesus is showing his humility to these three men who very well know the answer to their questions before asking them to Jesus. Judas already knows that he has been paid silver and has intentions to turn Jesus over. Rather than validating the accusations being made, Jesus makes a simple statement that spoke to me. I know that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, as does Jesus in the Gospel. To me it seems that so does the high priest and governor despite their questioning. The statement is simple yet powerful.
It makes me think that I already know the answer to questions I ask God during my prayers.
When Jesus is eventually led to his crucifixion and suffering on the cross he cries out in agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the second phrase that made me stop and think in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus recites this line twice before his spirit passes. When he says this, it really humanized Jesus for me. Jesus, though Christ, is on Earth as man sent by God, his father, to walk among other humans. Jesus serves others and performs incredible miracles, but he was sent to Earth for a purpose. I can only imagine what Jesus is feeling while he is on the cross, knowing he will rise again, but having to endure such pain.
The plea that Jesus makes with God is real, raw and allows me to empathize with Jesus at this particular moment.
There are countless times in my life that I too have questioned God, felt abandoned and forsaken. When Jesus shares this feeling, it is a comfort, for his sacrifice is the reason that my heart knows God has never forgotten me.
As somber as the Passion of Christ is to read and reflect upon, it gives me hope.
I have the foresight to know the delight that is to come after this holy week. I want to be able to live each day with the hope that I am brought after today’s Gospel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frances is currently a PreSchool teacher in Bay Village, where she works with a group of loving, energetic, and busy three year olds. She is living in Lakewood and enjoying the excitement of the city of Cleveland. When Frances isn’t busy with children, she can be found spending time with her many cousins and friends. Frances enjoys collecting beach glass and lucky stones on the shores of Lake Erie throughout the year. She is trying to keep the art of letter writing alive by sending notes to friends and family in the mail.