The antidote to disunity

May 1, 2017 - 12:00am -- Chiara Lubich

The antidote to disunity
In 1950, Focolare founder Chiara Lubich described how she discovered Jesus’ abandonment on the cross as a key to understanding the nature of God’s love

By Chiara Lubich

We knew Christ crucified and nothing else. To be crucified with him in the divine will, and often with him crucified in our neighbor, was the most beautiful expression of our love for the Father. “So that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).

We fixed our gaze on him and realized that the great saints filled their souls with God by loving the cross. We wanted to do the same. We knew we had only one life, and a brief one at that, so we wanted to spend it in the best possible way.

One day we asked ourselves what was the greatest suffering of Jesus on the cross, and it seemed to us that it was that cry, uttered after three hours of agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34). It was like the “swan song” of the God-Man, who had poured out everything of himself for his brothers and sisters. He had given everything.

First, a life lived beside Mary in hardship, obedience and dedication.

Then, three years of mission, revealing the truth, giving witness to the Father, promising the Holy Spirit, and working all kinds of miracles of love.

Finally, three hours on the cross, from which he gave forgiveness to his executioners, opened paradise to the thief, gave his mother to us, and ultimately gave his body and blood, after having given them mystically in the Eucharist.

He had nothing left but his divinity, his union with the Father, that sweet and ineffable union with the one who had made him so powerful on earth as the Son of God and so majestic on the cross.

That feeling of God’s presence had to disappear from the depths of his soul and no longer make itself felt, separating him somehow from the one with whom he had claimed to be one: “The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:30). In him, love was annihilated, the light extinguished, wisdom silenced.

He totally compromised himself along with human beings, making himself sin with sinners. He had signed a check of infinite value which no one could pay but him. Now the Father was permitting this darkness and infinite aridity of the soul, this infinite nothingness, to make him feel “cursed” by heaven and by earth.

Jesus paid for us. To make us children of God, he deprived himself of the feeling of being the Son of God.

We were separated from the Father. It was necessary that the Son, who represented all of us as words in the Word and as flesh of his divine flesh, Jesus Forsaken would experience being separated from the Father in order to reunite us all to the Father.

“For through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20).

It was the peak of utmost suffering, the night of the senses, the dark night of the soul, the apparent abandonment of God, which he had to experience so that no human being would ever feel abandoned again.

He had taught that there is no greater love than one who lays down their life for their friends. He, the Life, gave everything of himself.

This is the apex of his passion. In that moment, he is the redeemer. He is the most beautiful expression of love. He loves as God, with a love that is greater than God himself. He makes himself nothing to make us everything. He makes himself “us,” in order to transform us into him, into children of God.

He was beautiful, oh, so beautiful, this divine lover of our souls. He was rejected by heaven and by earth, disdained by everyone, even repulsive, reduced to shame, in order to introduce us into the kingdom as children of God, co-heirs with him, welcomed by everyone, full of his light, his love, his power, overflowing with honor and dignity.

“He emptied himself” (Phil 2:7).

We loved him like this … Never as in that moment did he appear as God, the God of love, who gives everything of himself.

And from him burst forth, as if from a divine treasure chest, jewels of light and strength for all those who followed him. We saw him everywhere, in every person who was suffering. Every physical, moral or spiritual pain seemed to be a reflection of his immense suffering.

Everything we personally suffered appeared to us as an aspect of Jesus crucified, to be loved and desired. We wanted to be like him, so that, through the death of ourselves, loved and desired, life would be given to ourselves and to many other people.

Every painful event was an expression of his that we embraced so as to be one with him — abandoned with him who was abandoned, darkness and boredom and cold and aridity and desperation and detachment and anguish and hunger and pain … to be with him who personified every suffering.

And yet, underlying all of these painful aspects of life, we found him, the one true God, perfect peace, fullness of joy, the light … all things that are not of this world.

Even among those who had taken God as their ideal, and had decided to put him first in their lives, there were those who gave up. The Lord permits big trials when he gives big graces, and the first Jesus Forsaken the small group of people felt was the shock of those who left them.

Without unity there was death, just as in unity we had life. And yet the antidote to death was Jesus crucified and forsaken.


From A Little Harmless Manifesto, Trent, 1950, first published in Igino Giordani, Erano i tempi di guerra, Rome: Città Nuova, 2007.