God-forsaken in Christ

God-forsaken in Christ

This slight paraphrase of Hans Urs Von Balthasar touches on a pivotal theme of his theology of the mystery of Eucharist. In suffering his whole human substance is made to flow in order to be able to enter into human beings: but this happens in order to be able to enter into human beings in such a way that he makes flow with himself the stone blocks of sin which dam the stream of God’s flowing being, and dissolves them in that experienced God-forsakenness of which they secretly consist.

Suffering, in this instance, is so much more than physical. Jesus takes on our sin. That means he experiences in his flesh and soul the isolation from God experienced by the worst sin possible. The descent into hell means entering, taking on the soul of the reprobate, and for one who is accustomed to complete union with the Father this is the most extreme suffering possible.

Both Father and Son suffer this separation. And so, continues Balthasar: The Father’s act of self-giving, with which he pours out his Son through all space and time of creation is the very opening of the trinitarian act in which the “persons” of God, “relations,” forms of absolute self-donation and love, flow. In the Eucharist the creator has succeeded in making the finite, creaturely structure—without breaking it or doing it violence—so fluid that it is capable of becoming the bearer of triune life.

This is not just a one-time happening and it doesn’t end when time and space end. Jesus as this human being, at the same time, gives up his divine form and his kenotic self-giving and continues to let his self-donation be demonstrated as the authentic power and glory of God. The crucified one is the risen one who gives eternal thanks to the Father as the Eucharist of the Father which never becomes past or mere remembrance.

Through contemplative prayer we are in union with all those who feel most forsaken by God because of their choices. We agonize for them and with them and, perhaps, suffer experientially being God-forsaken in their stead.

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