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Jesus says on the cross “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” That is the first verse of Psalm 22. Let me tell you about Psalm 22. The Psalmist is presenting his personal experience of God. First, he claims that he is in complete darkness. Next the psalmist says, “They can count all of my bones.” That is a poetic way of saying that the psalmist is naked. No one can count bones with clothes on. The next thing the psalmist says is that he is surrounded by wild animals. Let me give you an idea of this kind of experience. When my family first went on vacation in the deep woods of Maine, we rented a cabin. In the back, there was a small tool shed. We needed a screwdriver, so I went in there to find one. There were no windows, so I felt around in the dark for the light switch. It took me a while to figure out that there were no switches, instead there was a pull chain in the middle of the shed. When the light came on, and when my eyes adjusted to the light, I realized I was looking at a spider in its web about the size of my face. I still get chills thinking about it. I can imagine what it must have been like for the psalmist to be in the dark with much larger animals with big teeth. The wild animals around him in the dark are described as a pack of dogs. Then there are the bulls of Bashan. Let’s talk about the bulls for a moment. Bashan is a country north of Jerusalem where there is a lot of rainfall. You can tell you get a lot of rain when you have to mow your lawn every day. These living lawn mowers get real huge.
Let’s summarize the situation. The psalmist is naked, completely exposed without any protection in the dark with wild animals that are closing in for the kill. Just at the moment of impact, the psalmist cries out: “Thank you, God. You are so great; I knew you are always wonderful. I am going to tell everyone about you….” Hold it, stop the psalm for a minute. What happened? What did God do? What happened to all those wild animals? It doesn’t say. For years this psalm was passed on from one generation to another with people asking, “What happened to the wild animals?” We find out when Jesus cries out “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” He becomes the psalmist. This is His experience of the prayer. He is the one who is stripped of His garments. He is the one who is in the darkness, which covers the land. He is the one who is surrounded by an enemy that behaves like bloodthirsty wild animals. Just at the moment of death Jesus cries out, like the psalmist, and we find out what God did to the evil doers. The veil at the temple, which is forty feet high, is ripped from top to bottom and for the first time, everyone could see the holy of holies. Meanwhile, at the foot of Jesus’ cross, a veil was removed from the evil doers below. Now, they could see what He was never able to see before and they said, “Truly this is the Son of God.” We now know what God did to the wild animals, the sinners – the enemies of Jesus. Now we know what happened. God does not destroy His enemies. He wins them over. He saves them.Back to All Homilies