Editor’s note: The CatholicMatch Institute is featuring a Lenten series for Catholic married couples. Each reflection will focus on one of Christ’s seven last words on the cross. In addition there will be a Lenten action for married couples to put into practice. This is the fourth reflection in a seven-week series. Click here to see the full reflection series.
In the beginning, God creates us out of love in his image and likeness. Adam and Eve, by committing the first sin, reject his love and break their covenant with God. Even still, throughout salvation history, God continues to pursue his people. He makes a covenant with Noah to save him and his family from the flood and promises never “again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11). He makes a covenant with Abraham leading him to the Promised Land. With Moses, he leads his people out of slavery in Egypt. He promises David that from his descendants “I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever” (2 Samuel 7:13). God continually seeks his people, but repeatedly they turn away. However, God is unsurpassed in generosity. Though our hearts are hardened, God pursues again, this time sending his only Son to redeem the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
In the person of Jesus Christ, God is fully revealed, “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son” (Matthew 11:27). So who is this God that Christ reveals? He is the father in the prodigal son running towards us when we return to him, rejoicing,“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:24). He is the shepherd leaving the fold to find the one sheep that has gone astray. He is the God that loves us so much he sacrifices his only son making “him to be sin who knew no sin” (2Corinthians 5:21).
It is from God’s love that we receive our beautiful Redeemer. Where lies the beauty of our Redeemer? In Gethsamane, in the sweat poured out in great drops of blood. In the kiss received by his betrayer. In the sound of the cock crowing. In the silence as he is mocked. In the excruciating torment of his scourging and crowning of thorns. In the physical anguish on the road to Calvary. In each nail piercing his skin. In the darkness covering the place where our beautiful Redeemer hangs from the cross. Where he cries out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Our beautiful Redeemer, scourged, mocked, defiled, cries out in anguish. The price of our sins is great. But the love of our God is greater. For He sent a redeemer that redeems desolation itself; who conquers the dark night of the soul. As Fulton J. Sheen explains, “This pain and desolation He suffered for each of us, that we might know what a terrible thing it is for human nature to be without God, to be deprived of a Divine Remedy and Consolation.”
“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus, the ransom for our sins, bridges the Old Testament and the New. He establishes a new covenant for us with God through his perfect sacrifice. He shouts the messianic cry of the people of Israel from Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is the cry of the afflicted which continues in hope, “To thee they cried, and were saved; in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.” For indeed, even in our unworthiness, God in his infinite love, has given us our beautiful Redeemer.
In the trials and tribulations of married life, the desolation of unfaithfulness, apathy, distrust and jealousy can lead us to cry out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” We vow to be as one but anger and misunderstanding drives us apart. In married life, “it can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God’s faithful love” (CCC 1648).
The hope for our marriage covenant is in Christ, the Messiah, our beautiful Redeemer. Through his salvific act of love and by uniting our love to his, we are capable of loving as Christ loves the Church.
Souls who love their Crucified Lord in the midst of their own desolation grow closer to him in their hearts. Nothing makes a soul seek for God as much as desolation of spirit and nothing else draws the Lord into one’s heart more effectively because in the midst of desolation, one’s acts of acceptance of the will of God are purer and more perfect. The greater the desolation, the greater one’s humility; one’s resignation is more unselfish, one’s trust in God more authentic, and one’s prayers more eager. God’s graces, as a result, are more abundant. – St. Alphonsus
1. Commit to never using the word “divorce” in your communications with your spouse. Take to heart that not only is it not an option, but the word will not be uttered or threatened.
2. There is help available for marriages steeped in desolation. Meet with your parish priest. Retrouvaille, The Third Option, and Alexander House all offer assistance in reclaiming the joy God intended for your marriage.
3. For those couples who fully embrace God’s plan for marriage, and have managed the ups and downs, joys and sorrows remaining faithful, please consider becoming a marriage mentor. Humbly sharing your struggles in marriage may save one in crisis.