Monday, April 10, 2017

The Lord has not spurned the misery of this poor wretch... (Fr. Felix Just / Jeremy Mayfield)

  Commenting on these verses of Psalm 22, which we hear during the Passion Sunday liturgy, Fr. Felix Just, S. J. notes, If we think this is the only thing Jesus said, the only words that came out of his mouth, then it sounds like a cry of despair.  But what we have to realize is that here, Jesus is quoting the very first words of Psalm 22 from the Old Testament.  And, just like today, if I were to tell you, let’s pray the Our Father, we wouldn’t necessarily just say those two words, we would say the entire prayer, so also, when we are told that Jesus prayed, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,  that’s not to imply that he only prayed Psalm 22, verse 1.

   Why is this significant?  Imagine Jesus praying verses 25 and 26 as well:
For [the Lord] has not spurned or disdained
the misery of this poor wretch,
Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.
I will offer praise in the great assembly;
my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him. 

As Fr. Just also notes, Psalm 22 is not only a cry of anguish, but contains verses that express hope and deliverance from the Lord.  Jesus, on the cross, in the moments of his greatest despair, knows that God is with him, and offers praise in God's name.  His trust in the Lord is thus absolute; his faith in his Father unwavering, even in his final anguish. May his fortitude be a model for us in our time of need as well.

   To hear this psalm performed 
in a unique arrangement by Jeremy Mayfield,
click on the video below
(and notice the crescendo at 3:55!):

Image source:  Wayne Forte, Crucifixion - Psalm 22 
Quotation source:  Felix Just, S.J., A Retreat with the Gospel of Matthew
Video source

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