One of the most profound meditations on love I ever heard was shared by Chiara Lubich, founder of the Work of Mary (Focolare Movement). As she reflected on the question of when the Lord showed His love for us most intensely, she was given the insight that it was the moment on the cross when He exclaimed "My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?" Even though He no longer felt the presence of the Father, Jesus did not come down from the cross, as He could have, nor did He denounce the Father for this abandonment. Instead, trusting that the Father's will would somehow be done, He remained on the cross and died for us, stating "Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit."
True love is not something that is dependent on feelings.It comes from a deeper place. I sometimes may not "feel" that my parent, sibling, spouse, child, friend loves me, but that does not make it so. And I may not "feel" very loving toward them, but that does not mean love has disappeared. In fact, as with the example of Christ, love is seen as deeper and more profound when there is no sense that it is being returned. Jesus, feeling abandoned by the Father, certainly did not feel loved by Him in that moment. And He was definitely not feeling any love from the multitude who were gathered around Him on Calvary. Here He was, dying for the sins of all humanity, and He was being mocked, jeered, killed by the very people He was trying to save. Yet, He did not throw in the towel and quit. Despite this feeling of total abandonment, He loved the Father so much that He persevered. And He loved us with a love that did not depend on our reaction either. He died for those who killed Him, for those who shouted "crucify him!", for those who stood by silently, and for all of us who weren't even born.
That deep love, even when feeling abandoned, is the kind of love that needs to permeate each of our lives. When we feel that God has abandoned us, if we persevere and continue to try and do His will, we are following the example of Christ. And we know that, ultimately, His love conquered even death. Knowing this, therefore, I can continue to try and do the will of the Father, even when I do not feel Him present, and when I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel. Truth be told, it is only when I act in this way that I am fully following the example of Jesus. I pray that you will have time to reflect on this awesome sacrifice made for each of us, and that this day dedicated to the deepest act of love by Christ for us will give you strength to persevere through your own crosses.