By Msgr. Michael K. Magee

In the present crisis that the Church is experiencing because of the sins of some of her members and the suffering of others that those sins have caused, it is important for us to reflect on the everlasting source of the Church’s unity and holiness that remains untainted by anything that has happened.

Recently I was reading a reflection on unity written by Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focolare Movement, which I think speaks eloquently to the moment in which we are living. Of course she points out that our unity must be rooted in Jesus, but the helpful insight that she shares is that we find Him as our source of unity especially in His cry of abandonment on the Cross, where we find Him utterly forsaken.

“In His abandonment, Jesus really shows us how to overcome every disunity, however serious it might be,” she said. “In our own lives, we’ll never find a separation from any other person or from God so great as He experienced – it’s something immense.”

While Jesus’ entire life is a word of spanine love spoken into human history, that word is never so eloquent as when He enters freely into the abandonment of humanity in its deepest darkness.

His cry in the words of the Psalm, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is uttered not because of His own guilt but because of ours – because He freely chooses to descend to humanity’s lowest depths so that there will not be any place in the universe where God is absent – even in the “hell” of the brokenness caused by sin.

Precisely there, “Jesus Forsaken” resounds as the Word which, as Chiara says, “as if by a spanine alchemy – transforms suffering into love.”{{more}}

In the victims of abuse who bear scars inflicted on them by those whom they should have been able to trust, we can see the face of Jesus Forsaken. We can love Him there, and this love will guide us in our efforts to bring consolation and healing.

In those who have betrayed their vocations too, we see the face of Christ marred once again by sin, and we place our hope in the power that His resurrection brings for bringing new life where before there was death, at least in the next world if not in this one.

Even in the excesses of those who will unjustly jump from the sins of some to the condemnation of all priests or of the Church altogether, we can see again the face of Jesus Forsaken, misunderstood by the world yet never condemning the world but acting as the spanine alchemist to transform by His cross the very sentence of the world’s condemnation into the irrevocable decree of God’s mercy.

Mysteriously but wonderfully, it is in this Forsaken One that the scattered pieces of our broken world are brought together again, because it is precisely in all those situations where we don’t expect to be able to find God that we will find Him waiting for us, not because He belongs there but because He has come there to bring us all back to the Father, where we belong.

Looking for Him in the brokenness of these times, and loving Him when we find Him there, will not be the end of our responsibility, but it will instill in us the love that will preserve us in unity and bestow on us a new beginning.

Msgr. Michael K. Magee is a faculty member at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood.