His Passion & Abandonment
It’s very clear in Matthew’s Gospel that Christ’s passion is made so completely sorrowful when we acknowledge that Christ is all alone. From the mensa where Judas leaves Him, to the garden where His companions encourage His isolation as they drift into sleep and He agonizes alone. From the abandonment of Peter in his denials to the cross where all set themselves apart from Him in their jeers and taunts. One of the greatest elements of Christ’s suffering is that He is completely cut off from all others. And as if that were not a deep enough suffering, even His Father isolates His Son when the Lord cries out, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” He is utterly alone.
Yet, this is not a complete picture of the depths of His abandonment. Surely he has been abandoned: the victim of isolation forced upon Him. But our second reading describes it even more completely when St. Paul writes, “Even though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped.” Here we begin to witness Christ’s active abandonment. No longer a victim who is cast off, but He casts Himself off: He leaves His divine stature in order to become man. But there’s more: He emptied Himself and took on our form, yet the form He takes is that of a slave, subjecting Himself to all other men. He has abandoned Himself in this offering, and His isolation is the deepest and purest ‘aloneness’. Thus we are made aware of such agony, such depravity, such utter isolation and abandonment.
It might serve us well to follow Him into abandonment this Holy Week. We have been made keenly aware of our depravity this Lent; and our need for new “light” and new “life” is very apparent. Maybe in order to experience these divine gifts, we will need to abandon ourselves to suffer with Christ, to die in a sense, in order to rise with Him. In this way, we can be isolated near Him…we can be abandoned with Him…not utterly alone, sure, but just ourselves with the Master who suffers with us. And a new, deeper, more intimate bond between ourselves and the Lord can then be forged, and ratified, and made more intense and satisfying.
May each of us have a truly holy Holy Week.