Catholic World News

Pope's audience topic: Christ's prayer before death

February 08, 2012

At his weekly public audience on February 8, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the prayer of Jesus just before his death, as recounted in the Gospels of Sts. Matthew and Mark.

The Pope reminded the crowd in the Paul VI auditorium that Jesus cried out after three hours of darkness. “In biblical tradition darkness has an ambivalent meaning,” he pointed out. As Jesus dies, evil grips the world, the Pope said. Yet at this extreme point, Jesus “is entirely certain of the closeness of the Father, Who approves this supreme act of love and of total giving of Self.”

The words of Christ—“My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?”—must be understood in the context of Psalm 22, from which they are taken, Pope Benedict said. “At moments of anguish prayer becomes a cry,” he said, and in this moment Jesus raises all his suffering to the Father. “This also happens in our own relationship with the Lord,” the Pope continued. "In the face of difficult and painful situations, when it seems that God does not hear, we must not be afraid to entrust Him with the burden we are carrying in our hearts, we must not be afraid to cry out to Him in our suffering.”

Pope Benedict told his audience that Jesus is not raising “the cry of a person who meets death with desperation, nor that of a person who knows he has been abandoned.” Rather, his prayer shows how the Lord identifies with all people who suffer. The faithful should follow Christ’s example, placing confidence in God even in the darkest times, the Pope said.


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  • Posted by: rfwilliams2938 - Feb. 13, 2012 8:50 AM ET USA

    Wow! I always wondered at this. Thank you Papa.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2012 4:04 PM ET USA

    For me the connection was made via "To Know Christ Jesus" by Frank Sheede, a treasure trove of Catholic Christological teaching for the layman.

  • Posted by: pannw - Feb. 08, 2012 7:40 PM ET USA

    FineFalconAlum, Sometimes I wonder if they do that on purpose or if they too are simply ignorant. I only learned of the link with Psalm 22 a couple of years ago while reading a book of fiction by a Catholic author. What a joy it was to me to know the truth. St. Jerome was so right when he said "Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ." And this is why the pope urges us to study it. What a wonderful teacher God has given us in Pope Benedict XVI. Deo Gratias!

  • Posted by: - Feb. 08, 2012 2:23 PM ET USA

    In the 1970's, a Jesuit professor was explaining to us that our Lord's last prayer was a great mystery, that the sin of despair looked to be operative somehow. I'm probably not the only young Catholic he nudged off into the desert of Protestantism with such nonsense, only to discover Psalm 22 before coming home to the true faith.