Hope, Strength, Faith, Forgiveness, Love
The Seven Last Words spoken by Jesus from the Cross have always been a special focus for Passionist Spirituality. In them Jesus speaks from the Cross words of hope, of strength of faith, of forgiveness and of love. Besides being words of power they are words of example on how to follow Christ Crucified.
The Word of Forgiveness
Forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34)
The first word given to us is forgiveness. Forgiveness comes before the crucifixion, before the insults and death. Forgiveness is always first. Maybe we could not cope with listening to the Passion of Christ it we did not begin with forgiveness.
Lord Jesus, you looked down from the cross at those who had beaten you, laughed at you, cursed you, and you saw the terrible eyes of your enemies watching, waiting for you to die. Yet beyond the hatred, beyond the violence, of those desperate men and women you saw your Father’s love for them. And you responded in love and said: “Father, forgive them; they do not know that they are doing.”
Lord Jesus when my enemies are watching, waiting for me to fall let me not be blinded by pain and anger so much that I can no longer love them. Give me resurrection eyes that I might see even my enemies as our merciful Father sees them. read more
The Word of Assurance
Today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)
Lord Jesus, those you loved wished to crush all hope from you leaving you hanging between despair and desolation. And yet it is hope that you offered to the one crucified beside you. “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom” – your kingdom of peace, amid the storms of life beyond all deaths. Remember me Jesus and give me a resurrection hope, a hope beyond all hope so that I may share it with those who are filled with despair. read more
The Word of Comfort
Woman, Behold your Son! … Behold your mother. (John 19:26-27)
Lord Jesus you were brought out of the city a dangerous enemy they said, “You are not one of us. You do not belong here, be crucified!” You answered them, “This is your son … this is your mother.” You said to them and you say to us – be a family, be a gift to each other, be one as the Father and I are one.
Jesus let me welcome others as your gift to me. Remove all fears from my heart and make it a home for all those who have no home. Turn all those I fear and push away into brothers and sisters. Give me a resurrection heart that I may love as you love. May I always offer words of comfort to others. read more
The Word of Desolation
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mark 15:34)
Jesus, who found his purpose and strength in the presence of God, who was sustained by the immediacy of his relationship with God and who endured all by the tangible power of God always at work within him, always a center of vitality and peace, found himself totally alone on the cross.
Jesus, whose very being was God, found himself utterly, absolutely, despairingly, cut off from all that gives life and breath, cut off from all that gives purpose and hope, cut off from the source of his ebbing, cut off, even from himself plumbing the depths of the human condition, to walk in the place of the utter absence of God, in the place of sinners, in the place of those who reject God. read more
The Word of Suffering
I thirst. (John 19:28)
Jesus you thirst to give me your love and for my love in return. Lord Jesus, let me enter more deeply into your love. Let me understand that I cannot give without receiving nor receive without giving. Quench my thirst for your love, O Lord, by sending me those who need to be loved and give me a resurrection love that I may love them as you do. read more
The Word of Triumph
It is finished. (John 19:30)
There is a kind of timelessness about hanging on the cross. It is not a quiet death, over in an instant to one glorious moment of martyrdom like being torn apart by lions. A cross is as much an instrument of torture as it is a gallows from which to hang. And as the day wears on seconds stretch into minutes which stretch into hours until there comes a point when time can no longer be measured except in the gradual weakening of the body and its ever more insistent demands for the substance which is so vital to life, so foundational to all living things, so basic to existence as we know it – water.
Water to moisten the parched mouth, water to free a swollen tongue, water to open a rasping throat that cannot gasp enough air, water to keep hope alive, to keep life alive just a few moments longer. Water, to a crucified man, is life. read more
The Word of Commital
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46)
It is the end, the very end, the end of the ordeal and Jesus alone on the cross, tortured, exhausted, abandoned by his friends, forsaken by God gasps for the last breath and gathers the strength for one final cry. Why would he choose to speak so close to the end? Why would he muster the last energy he had to cry out with a loud voice? Couldn’t God have heard his thoughts? A dedication made despite the pain, despite the mocking, despite the agony, despite the sense of horrible aloneness he felt. Jesus entrusts his spirit, his life, to God in faith, even at the point of his own abandonment when the good seems so very far away he proclaims his faith in God, the darkness cannot overcome it. read more