Jesus was nailed to the cross at 9 a.m.
From 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. there was darkness all over the land. Jesus was on the cross not for 3 hours, but for 6 hours, after being brutally scourged, and after being beaten and abused by the Temple guards, leaders, and people before being handed over to the Romans.
Some meditations say that from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. was when Jesus experienced the soul torments of hell that come from sin.
These meditations teach us to flee from sin as all sin contributed to the suffering and death of Christ from the original sin to the sins before the Incarnation, to the sins of all those living with the knowledge and understanding of Salvation History. These meditations also teach us to flee from hell by not turning our eyes, understanding and hearts to the right or to the left, but instead everyday, under the guidance, sanctifying grace, and coaching of the Holy Spirit, remaining faithful in prayer, reading and studying the Bible, and taking God's and Jesus's commandments as musts, not guidelines or recommendations for how to live our lives.
Why did Jesus yell out "My God, My God, why have you deserted me?"
I have heard this explained as similar to when a father needs to hold down a son for a necessary but painful medical treatment. He keeps his son from moving through act of will, because he knows it is for his good, but he tends to avert his eyes from looking at the face of his child, because it is more than his father's heart can take.
Maybe God the Father, who did not spare his Son for our salvation, averted his inward gaze away from his Son during this time because while he willed for this atoning sacrifice of his beloved Son so that we might have eternal life, joy, love, and communion with him forever, in this moment where his son was nailed to the cross, abandoning his divine power to escape the agony, and suffering the internal soul torment due to our sins, he looked away as his Father's heart was so pained to see the one he loved so much suffering internally, in addition to his external torments, what no one before or since has suffered. Jesus had never experienced this before, and now here in his worst suffering he doesn't feel the gaze of his father.
It was also Jesus invoking the prophetic words of Psalm 22 written 1000 years earlier by King David.
"But Jesus gave out a loud cry and breathed his last. And the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said, 'In truth, this man was the Son of God.'" Mark 15:37-39
Fr. John Bartunek in The Better Part in meditations on Mark 15:21-29 reminds us,
The souls of those faithful men and women who had trusted in God, and in God's promise during the centuries before the Incarnation were not yet in heaven. They had died in friendship with God, but the gates of heaven were still closed, because no one had yet atoned for the sin of mankind that had closed them in the first place. Now Jesus comes and achieves the atonement. And the first thing he does is go and announce the good news to the souls who were waiting their redemption. . . . Now the mystery of God's saving love is revealed to them in the piercing, loving gaze of their Savior. Now they can experience what they longed for with vibrant faith and faithful hope, the full presence of God as they await the resurrection of their bodies and the final judgment. . . .
Christ's self-sacrifice on the cross reveals that God's love for weak and selfish sinners has absolutely no limit. . . . Love is self-giving for the good of the beloved. . . . His love has no limits . . . .
Paraphrasing Fr. Bartunek . . . Jesus loved us so much that He:
- Left the Heavenly Glory to become one of us
- He lived among us
- He worked and suffered the grind of ordinary life
- He taught and healed and revealed God's heart
- He founded the Church to extend his presence and grace throughout all time
- He let himself be betrayed, humiliated, condemned, mocked
- He subjected himself to excruciating physical torments
- He hung helpless on the cross in our place
- He took upon himself our sins, suffering internal torments, also in our place
- He the Creator and Lord of all, did not have his life taken from him, he laid it down for us his friends
- His love was completely self-giving
- His love has no bounds
- Jesus is always with you
- Jesus understands you completely
- Jesus's compassion toward you is more perfect than you can imagine
- Jesus knows that you don't know this
- Jesus longs for you to know this because . . .
Jesus yearns for you to trust him. He knows this isn't easy for you. It may be easy in a given moment, but how constant are we in this trust?
He has done so much for us. Lord, please give us the grace to more faithfully pray:
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
Jesus, Son of God, I trust in you.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
"You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same." (Colossians 3:12-13)