US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Day 37: Diana Hayes

There are so many hanging on crosses now, needlessly hanging.

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Diana Hayes: Dying on the cross
Alone, abandoned, forsaken. No one to turn to, no one who cares. The most awful feeling for any human being is to feel completely alone, especially in the midst of suffering. Is there no one who will even try, who will walk with me this sorrowful way? His faithful disciples have abandoned him. Peter, the Rock, crumbled like wet sand and denied him three times. The others ran or simply watched as he was carried away by the soldiers. Only John and the women—his mother and the two Marys—remain. They have been stalwart and steadfast. Jesus in his dying agony cries out, “Father, O Father, why have you forsaken me?”

There are so many hanging on crosses now, needlessly hanging. Jesus dies on the cross. Children die in cross fires. Young adults die in too many ways to count. Mothers smoke crack, and fathers languish in jail. It is God who is alone, who has been abandoned, who has been forsaken. We have walked away, turned our backs. Jesus overcame his fear, forgave those who had participated in his death, and died. Jesus will not abandon us if we turn to him. If we forget, he always remembers. (Were You There? Orbis Books)

Reflection questions

1. Who are the abandoned in today’s world? 

2. What does Hayes mean when she says, “Jesus overcame his fear . . .and died.” How is remembering and acknowledging an act of courage?

3. Which part of this reflection do you identify with? Hanging on the cross? Mary, bearing witness? Or the other disciples, who abandoned Christ in his time of need?

Hayes is a womanist theologian and an associate professor of theology at Georgetown University.