WHY? This is the question that Jesus cried out in his agony upon the cross. This is the question that captures my attention today. For years I have kept that question at a distance as a theological query seeing it as Jesus' ultimate question or better, quest in his personal relationship with his Abba, the Divine One. " Father, why have you abandoned me?" But now, I'm troubled. I'm disturbed by the recurring thought that I am missing something more essential to the living of my life - the broader ethical implications that only now my imagination brings to my fearful mind. This question , 'Why? , is for me the ultimate question of my existence. Why am I? Why you? Why this world? Why suffering? Why death? As I've reflected more and more on this in seminary, university, on the streets, reading the philosophers and theologians over many years, it becomes clear to me that there is no satisfying answer but the question, that gnawing question, remains urgent. Why? Is it possible that the asking of the question itself is a kind of answer, a deeply human response to what is. When I cry out ,' Why?' I am throwing myself into this world of suffering with passion and the ever present possibility of passionate and compassionate engagement. When we listen, when we hear Jesus crying out from the cross, is it possible that Jesus' question ignites a theological and existential fire in our midst? When we bring together another shocking cry of the Rabbi with this question a different light is shed. Jesus once said, " Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me." When I attempt to make the connection I begin to see the world differently. I hear Syria crying out in their abandonment, "Why?" I hear the Palestinian people crying out from their refugee camps for more than sixty years, " Why?" I hear men , women and children crying out from the rubble and shattered structures, " Why?" I hear those who live in poverty in the inner cities, in rural America continuing to lament their schools and the violence on their streets with this one word, " Why?" I hear the millions around the world struggling to find enough scraps of food to merely survive crying out, " Why? Why? Why?
Now here's the kicker: I hear Jesus crying out through all these human beings, crying out not to God but to us. Christ, can you not leave us alone? We are doing all we can! What do you want from us? The ultimate question of why is aimed right at me and right at you. It is a serious disturbance of the peace. And remember, this is a question with no satisfying answer so it will not go away. It is not intended to be answered. It is intended to be felt like an earthquake in the heart. And when we're able to ask it we ask it with passion and compassion over and over and over again. The question of why is meant to propel us deeper into the darkness of suffering, ours and the world's. This kind of question asks us until we cry out with Jesus, " Why?" This unanswerable 'Why?' is our constant companion and will lead us, if we desire, and sometimes in spite of our desires, deeper into the awkwardness of relationship, deeper into the struggle for justice, and deeper into the paradox and the mystery of our lives. Ultimately it's about transformation -ours and the world. And along the way there is the danger and risk of change. And along the way there is also the delight of asking questions that unearth truth and joyful discovery. And it all begins with, " Why?"