Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Seven Last Words of Jesus

Scripture

Here are the last words spoken by Jesus just before He died, in the order they likely occurred.

1. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Lk 23:34)

We know that this is the first of the sayings because Jesus made this statement immediately after the soldiers pierced His hands and feet.

2. "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Lk 23:43)

Scripture says Jesus said these words about the sixth hour to one of the criminals hanging on a cross beside Jesus. The hours of the day begin at six for the Jews and so the sixth hour is just after noon.

3. "Woman behold thy son, Son, behold, your mother!" (Jn 19:26-27)

This was later when the soldiers cast lots for His garments, while Jesus was on the Cross.

4. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46 and Mark 15:34)

Scripture says He said about the ninth hour

5. "I thirst!" (Jn 19:28)

and

6. "It is finished!" (Jn 19:30)

are said in succession shortly before He died.

7. "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." (Lk 23:46)

Is said just before He died.


Background - The Seven Last Words of Jesus

The Seven Last "Words" of Jesus Christ from the cross are actually 7 short phrases that Jesus uttered on Calvary that serve as an excellent holy week meditation. To find all of the seven last words of Jesus Christ, one must read all the gospels since none of the evangelists records all 7 last words. The sayings would have been originally uttered by Jesus in the Aramaic language, but only one of the last seven words of Jesus is preserved for us in the original Aramaic, namely "Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani" or "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me," which is actually a direct quote of the opening verse of Psalm 22. The rest of the seven last words of Jesus are found in the gospels after having been translated into Greek by the four Evangelists. For centuries these seven last words of Jesus have been also used as meditation points for spiritual conferences, retreats, and Lenten missions. (source: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/43/Seven_Last_Words_of_Christ.html)



Comment

Archbishop Fulton Sheen says from the very beginning of Christs experience of the Passion on the Cross, in this time suffering, Christ reveals the heart of God.

Notice in the first three words, Jesus speaks first to enemies, then to sinners and then to saints.

The first here words are directed from the heart of Christ to humanity, revealing Christs desire that all men be saved and protected in the family of God.

But His first thought was to His enemies, then to the sinner next to him on the cross and thirdly it was to His mother and John – to saints.

I think that says something powerful about Christs love for humanity and His desire that all would be saved.

Then in the fourth and fifth words, we see Christ turns from His hearts desire to see humanity healed, saved and cared for we see Christ turning to His own experience in His own person as the God-man, He experiences both (in the fourth word) the pain of separation from God (not that Christ was separated from God but in His radical union with us in the Incarnation He experiences our pain and our separation in His person in a mystical sense. So He can say for us “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me”. Here Jesus is referencing Psalm 22 which are words of hope and trust, not words of despair.

So He experiences man’s pain of separation or abandonment but in the fifth word He experiences God’s passion, if you will, of being abandoned by men.

When He says “I thirst”, as many spiritual writers tell us, Jesus was not only thirsting for water though it certainly was but He thirsted for souls.

In the sixth and seventh words Christ turns His gaze to His heavenly Father.

In saying “I is finished” it seems as though Jesus is completing His prayer that He began the night before when He said in John 17:4 I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gave me to do;

When Jesus said “It is finished” Jesus finished the task of filling the reservoir of sacramental life, but the work of letting it flood out into our souls is not yet finished. He finished the foundation but we must build upon it. He finished the Ark, opening His side with a spear but we must enter the Ark. He stands at the door and knocks but the latch is on the inside and only we can open it. Whether our work will ever be finished depends entirely on how we re-live His life and become other Christs for His Good Friday Passion will avail us nothing if we don’t take up His Cross and follow Him.

Into your hands I comment my spirit.

It was precisely in death that Christ overcame death.

Source: Catholic Answers Live radio - show - The Seven Last Words with Tim Staples drawing from the reflections in a book by Archbishop Fulton Sheen titled (as you would expect) the Seven Last Words

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