Take a look at Psalm 22; see if it reminds your students of anyone they know:
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why so far from my call for help,
from my cries of anguish?...
All who see me mock me;
they curl their lips and jeer;
they shake their heads at me:
“You relied on the Lord – let him deliver you;
if he loves you, let him rescue you” …
Like water my life drains away;
all my bones grow soft.
My heart has become like wax,
it melts away within me.
As dry as a potsherd is my throat;
my tongue sticks to my palate…
So wasted are my hands and feet
that I can count all my bones.
They stare at me and gloat;
they divide my garments among them;
for my clothing they cast lots…
"You who fear the Lord, give praise!
All descendents of Jacob, give honor…
For God … did not turn away from me,
but heard me when I cried out…”
Of course, this psalm calls to mind the passion of Jesus. It is the first lines of this psalm that Jesus prayed as he hung on the cross. Jesus quoting this psalm calls us to look closely at the words of the psalm and see that, not only does it foretell the treatment of Jesus at our hands, but it also demonstrates for us our right attitude toward hardship, as its closing verses reveal.
Challenge your students to read and re-read this psalm as it is shortened here, to pray it, to put themselves in the place of Jesus on the cross and pray its words slowly and meditatively. Encourage them to respond to the following reflection questions:
1. The psalms were written between 1000 B.C. and 400 B.C.; therefore, the words of this psalm were written at least 400 years before Jesus was born. Why would God inspire the author to write this psalm that so resembled what would happen to Christ?
2. Why do you suppose Jesus thought of Scripture as he hung on the cross?
3. Verse 15 reads: “My heart has become like wax.” What do you think the author meant by this? How do you suppose this applied to Jesus in his agony?
4. Many times when we are afraid, we say things that we don’t really mean. For instance, when we are mad at our parents, we may cry out, “You don’t love me!” when we know that they really do love us. Do you think Jesus really meant the first two lines of this psalm when he prayed them from the cross, or do you think Jesus knew all along that God the Father was there for him?
Kelley Renz is a freelance writer and veteran catechist with over twenty years in religious education. She is the author of God Listens to Our Children (OSV) and the blog “Dear God, This Is Kelley”.