Seven Last Words of Christ
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
These powerful words have changed the hearts of many people. As Christians we are called to follow Jesus all year long. But during Holy Week, we walk side by side with Jesus. We recall the events of the Passion, Jesus’ suffering and death for us. Jesus is perfect and wants us to live by his example. Jesus forgave His enemies while dying on the cross. This passage from the Gospel of Luke reminds us to forgive and ask forgiveness from our friends and family members. Mercy is stronger than sin.
"Truly, I say to you, this day you will be with me in Paradise."
These were the words that Jesus said to the good thief while dying on the cross. The good thief recognized his own sinfulness and the innocence of Jesus. The good thief had faith in the kingdom of heaven and is an example for us of how we should handle our own sin.
Both thieves were guilty of similar transgressions, but the good thief repented, while the other thief mocked Jesus. God’s mercy is always available to us, if only we have the faith to ask for it. The good thief teaches us that no matter how terrible our sin is, God wants us to come to Him. With these words from the cross, Jesus teaches us that when we say we are sorry and truly mean it, He will always welcome us to be with Him in Paradise.
"Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother."
Jesus said these words to his Mother Mary and to the Apostle John, who are standing at the foot of the cross. This is a great act of love. For Jesus is looking to protect his mother from pain and sorrow, even as he himself was undergoing excruciating pain. He is also showing us how to care for those who are mourning and distraught. Family ties are not limited by blood alone. Mary is the mother of the Church and we are her children. We must take her into our home as the Apostle John did. Mary will mother us. She will bring our prayers to Jesus and bring us his graces.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?"
Jesus, you must feel totally alone. Many are staring at you and mocking you. Your closest friends deserted you and you are dying. And yet, you know that God your Father will never truly abandon you. This psalm that you quote ends in triumph just as your death will end in triumph for all who love and follow you. Death will be defeated and your complete gift of love will endure forever.
If I ever feel alone or abandoned please help me to remember you on the cross and your undying love for me. If I ever see anyone else alone or suffering, help me to remember to bring them comfort. I want to see your face in those who suffer. I want to bring your Spirit to those who are in need.
After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said "I thirst."
Jesus was arrested Thursday night. He was kept awake all night enduring trials, questions, and beatings. Then he was scourged and mocked and condemned to death. Now, hanging on the cross, Jesus was exhausted and thirsty. But is that all Jesus was saying? The soldiers thought so and that’s why they gave him a sponge soaked in wine. Even at the moment of his death, Jesus gave them a chance to be kind.
But what else did you mean? Do you thirst for our love? Do you thirst for righteousness? How can I help you Jesus? More than anything, you desired to do your father’s will. Your one hope, your one longing was to save us from sin and death. Do I desire you more than anything else? Do I thirst for the grace to be a saint and be with you in heaven? Help me find you thirsty in the poor and outcast that I may give you a drink of kindness. Help me to desire goodness and truth above everything else.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.”
All power is given by God. Since Jesus is God, He was in complete control of the situation. He knew all along that the plan was for Him to die in order to save humanity from sin. This process was much more than an obligation. Jesus did everything out of love for us. He acknowledged that the plan reached fulfillment, and the time of darkness ended because the hope of redemption arrived; humanity could start anew. Jesus lived his entire life as a pardon for humanity. All of his teachings and actions were laid down as conditions of the salvation which were promised. Having written his letter of reprieve through the efforts and exertions of his persecuted lifetime, he sealed the pardon in his holy blood spilled upon the cross.
The statement "it is finished" is endowed with multiple meanings: the end of Jesus' life, the fulfillment of God's providential plan, and the liberation of humanity from the prison of sin and death. This double-completion so to speak, is finalized when Jesus hands over his Spirit, simultaneously sending the Holy Spirit to guarantee true freedom.
Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, "Into Thy hands I commend My spirit."
Not my will, but thine be done. Jesus prayed this in the Garden of Gethsemane and now we see he did his father’s will to the end.
Psalm 31 says: For you are my rock and my fortress... Free me from the net they have set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, God of truth. This is the prayer Jesus uttered as he breathed his last. It shows his complete trust in his father. Jesus knows that God will receive him and bless all of creation through him. His offering was complete and he returned to the Father.
Jesus help me to always seek God’s will in every detail of my life and follow you obediently even unto death. Please give me the grace to accept God’s will in my life, even when it is very difficult and seems impossible. Knowing that you died on the cross for me, I can do all things in you, who strengthen me.