When I was teaching there was another teacher in my department who often used to say, “When I get to heaven I’m gonna sit on a cloud with God and ask Him this question,” and then she’d tell you her question. I was thinking about this teacher and imagining what questions I’d ask if I was sitting on that cloud. I think they would probably be based on some recent reflections I’ve had concerning Your humanity. One of them would be: In Your humanity did You ever feel the absence of God?
It strikes me that living in this world offers many occasions on which, either in our own lives or in the lives of others, we wonder where God is. It probably crossed Your mind in Gethsemane as, in our own Gethsemanes, it crosses our minds. Why is it that God seems most present to us when we are at peace and farthest from us when we are in turmoil? If, at the apex of Your passion, Your turmoil, Your aloneness, You were so humanly agitated as to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned me?” – then, clearly, we see how, in our own turmoil, we become so agitated as to imagine God’s absence. But God’s “absence” may not be God’s fault. God may somehow be barred from being present. So high are human emotions in moments of great turmoil that the conscious summoning of God may be excluded from thought. It would seem that dark powers beyond our understanding take over our wills at such times.
You lived by the Light of Your Father and, in the extreme chaos of the cross it must have seemed as if that Light was being snuffed out. Fenelon reminds us that it is very human to seek the support and approval of others. Thus it is very human to feel a huge emptiness when it is not there; and You, lest we forget, were very human. It is another paradoxical lesson of the spiritual life that we are left to insert God at times when God seems most absent.