Jesus' Last Words From the Cross
During Holy Week
we recall the Sufferings of
Jesus Christ and His victory, on
Easter Sunday, in His Resurrection.
It is not enough to watch these events like spectators at a play. It is not a pageant. The only way is to be part of the action ourselves. We offer
a short reflection for every day of Holy Week which will help
to draw you deeper into the action. The reflections are based on the seven last words
Monday - "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
The Crucifixion seems the
final failure. Mankind nails
Jesus to the Cross in an effort to
keep Him down and to destroy
Him. Today, we continue to try and reduce Jesus
to a size that we can manage. Jesus' words reflect
His sympathy for our ignorance and
frailty, and He forgives.
Tuesday - "Indeed, I promise you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43)
These words are not addressed to
mankind. They are spoken to
the man next to Him.
He is a crucified criminal
from the dregs of society. How can
Jesus have anything in common with such a man?
It is only because the man had spoken
His name and voiced his need of
he said, "remember me when
You come into Your kingdom."
This was the first man to be
saved through faith in
Jesus on the Cross.
Wednesday - "Woman, this is your son . . . this is your mother." (John 19:26-27)
Faith can only grow within a family. We need the help and encouragement of each other.
His mother, who
had supported Jesus through life, supports
Him in His last
moments. She was His only
human support. And Jesus shares her
with us. To be a true Christian means that we, like
Jesus, are happy to put ourselves
into the hands of Mary.
Thursday - "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? . . . My God, My God, why have You deserted Me?" (Matthew 27:47)
Suspended between Heaven and
earth Jesus experiences the agony
of feeling abandoned by
God and man. These words are a
cry of distress, but not of despair.
For they are the opening words of Psalm 22 which begins as a prayer
of lament but ends on a note of
victory. "You entrusted me to my mother's breast..." the Psalm
says, "They shall praise the Lord, those who seek
Him. May their hearts live for ever and ever!" It is
suffering humanity and, in His final
prayer to His heavenly Father, transforms us into
an acceptable offering to God. This is precisely what happens in the
Friday - "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)
It has been said that the only works of man that will be seen in Heaven
are the marks of crucifixion in the hands and feet and
side of Jesus Christ. As Jesus
dies on the Cross,
man's only gift is a sponge dipped into sour wine, the soldier's ordinary drink. Mankind
can offer Him so little comfort, "For food they
gave Me poison," says Psalm 69, "in My
thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink."
Jesus drinks man's sour offering as a sign of His
thirst to save all men and women. And then
Saturday - "It is accomplished." (John 19:30)
Jesus is in the tomb. What appears to be a ring of final
dereliction is, in reality, the completion of Christ's work.
Thirty years of life as a man is now fulfilled as
Christ's lifeless body lies in the deathless state which is to be shared by every
human being. Jesus appears to
have thrown in the towel, yet everything that has happened is part of God's loving plan.
Mankind, as yet, cannot understand such
Sunday - "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." (Luke 23:46)
With these words Jesus breathed
His last. And St John goes on to tell us that, "Jesus
breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. For
those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven.'"
Jesus' final words on the Cross
are linked with His first words on
Easter Sunday. Jesus offers us
His Spirit Who forgives us our sins.
Jesus' saving words on the
Cross have turned full circle. They began with, "Father,
forgive them . . ."
There is only one way in which we can live the meaning of Holy Week. Only one way! And that is by forgiving.
Pope John Paul speaks: Unforgivable sin?
"There is no sin which cannot be
forgiven, if we approach the Throne of Mercy
with humble and contrite
hearts. No evil is more powerful that the
infinite mercy of God. In becoming man, Jesus
entered completely into our human experience, even to the point of suffering
the final and most cruel effect of the power of
sin - death on a
Cross. He really became one like
us in all things but sin. But evil
with all its power did not win.
By dying, Christ
destroyed our death; by rising,
He restored our life; by His
wounds we are healed and
our sins are forgiven.
For this reason, when the Lord appeared to
His disciples after the Resurrection,
He showed them His hands and
His side. He wanted them
to see that the victory had been won; to
see that He, the
Risen Christ, had transformed the marks of sin and
death into symbols of hope and