Friday, February 2, 2007
3. Don't Give Up on God
When we are treated unjustly or disrespectfully or maliciously, a natural reaction is to feel hurt and angry. The hurt and anger make us want to give up or to run away from human tormentors. We can also be tempted to blame God, to give up on God, and to run away from God.
“Why did God let this happen?”
“I’ve been a good person, so God should take care of me.”
“How can God claim to love me if he lets this happen?”
In Luke 22:42 Jesus is tempted to give up: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” He has worked hard at his ministry, but the opposition has grown intense. “As a matter of my own personal, preference, I don’t want to face the savagery of those who hate me,” he seems to say, “so if it is up to me, I want to walk away from all this.”
In “The Passion of the Christ” Mel Gibson emphasizes this temptation by showing us Satan lurking in the shadows of Gethsemane. Jesus felt this temptation acutely, and his anguish caused him to sweat drops of blood.
But Jesus lived in a fundamental relationship of love and trust with the Father and had committed himself to the Father’s project of Building the Kingdom. He knew that he had a unique role in this project, one that only he could play. “And what should I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” (John 12:27). So, Jesus resisted the temptation to run away, to give up on his followers, and to give up on God.
We too must resist the temptation to give up on God. We must come to realize that when we suffer, we are Jesus’ partner in his suffering, and he is our partner in ours. We are never alone in these sufferings. Jesus is with us, and he asks us to be with him. He will be faithful to the end. But we must not give up on God.
When we remain faithful in our trials, we live Jesus’ Eucharist – his body broken, his blood poured out – even as we face those who would break our bodies and spill our blood.