The Mystical Vine
A treatise on the Passion of Our Lord

Saint Bonaventure

Translated from the Latin by a Friar of S.S.F.
Edited by Matthew Dallman




About the ninth hour, the Lord uttered the fourth word—the fourth leaf or fourth string of the Lute. This was when he cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Could any eyes remain blind to this leaf? Could any ears remain deaf to this string? Why did he cry out thus loudly, except it was that he thought he would be heard the better? We can imagine how intense the violence of our good Jesus’ pain must have been, when his body was being so stretched, to cause him to cry out thus. Yet we must beware of thinking that this cry meant that the Lord Jesus had in any way lost patience. No, as we shall point out, when we treat of the next leaf of string, he preserved his patience even in the bitterest hour of his passion. Here he was but revealing the intensity of his pain.

The use of the words “My God” makes it clear that this word was spoken in the name of the assumed manhood of Jesus, though, of course, he was still one person with the Son of God. They could not have been said by one who was one with the Father unless he had assumed a human nature.

But what does he say next? “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Could the Father ever forsake his only Son? God forbid. The most kind Jesus, therefore, must have spoken in this way on behalf of the whole Church, of which he is the Head. Desiring to commend the union and loving relation he had with his spouse the Church, he, who as the Head had already endured suffering in his own body, which he received from the Virgin, now shewed himself prepared to share the suffering of all the members of his body, the Church. So he, who in his own divine nature could not be forsaken, cried out that he was forsaken, because he knew that so many members of his body would endure great tribulation. This was the reason why he appeared to be so inwardly forsaken by God.

Blessed be our adorable God, our most kind Jesus, for condescending to share the tribulation, which we so justly suffer, first by himself on our behalf, but now both with us and in us! In order to ground our trust in him more firmly, mindful of our suffering, he cries, “I will be with him in trouble.”[1]

1. Ps 91:15.


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