Seven Precious Words of Jesus on the Cross
The season of Lent has come to a close; Holy Week has begun, and we are in the threshold of Easter. But before Easter, Good Friday comes, a day considered as ‘good’ although it was on this Friday that our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and was crucified on the Cross, because redemption was given to humankind on this day. I think it is very apt for all of us to recall during these days the Calvary scene, the most beautiful scene in the history of humankind where Jesus Christ, Our Lord and God, sacrificed his life for our salvation and the salvation of humankind.
To really understand the joy of Easter we need to understand Jesus’ passion and death. We need to prepare ourselves if we want to have a genuine celebration of the feast of Easter. Reflecting on the Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross is a beautiful means to put oneself into the mood of Good Friday. Jesus, after the long painful journey to Mount Calvary and still suffering on the Cross, that infamous instrument of torture and death, regarded as the worst mean for punishment, uttered Seven Precious Words. The given lines are simple reflections on the words spoken by Jesus on the Cross.
1. Father Forgive Them for They Don’t Know What They Are Doing. (Luke 23:34)
It is natural that when an innocent person is judged, he tries to prove his innocence or pleads for mercy. But it is strange to see Jesus on the Cross, neither proving his innocence nor asking for mercy. Why? It is because Jesus is God and human are never judges of God. The excruciating and agonizing pains did not made Jesus cry, instead from the depths of his loving heart, Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”(Luke 23:34)
These words of our Lord invite us to forgive our offenders. It is very difficult for us to forgive someone who hurts us, yet Jesus is showing us that we can really forgive. Let the prayer that we pray daily, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sins against us”, give us strength to forgive, for we will be forgiven if we forgive. Forgiveness will surely bring peace, healing and happiness in our lives.
2. I Promise You That Today You Will Be in Paradise with Me. (Luke 23:43)
There was no such thing as the good thief in the beginning of the crucifixion. Hearing the prayer of Jesus, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing”, a change of heart came on to one of the thieves. He saw someone special in Jesus; began to accept his sins and begged Jesus for Salvation. Strange, a dying man asking a dying man for eternal life. It was his last prayer or might be the first; nevertheless his prayer was heard. Jesus assured him, “I promise you that today you will be in paradise with me.” (Luke 23:43) He seemed to be a professional thief; managed to steal heaven at the last hour.
In our lives too we have our own sins and shortcomings, but let us remember that our sins are nothing compared with the mercy of God. Our sins are but a drop in the mighty ocean of God’s mercy. God is every ready to forgive us no matter how sinful we are. What we need is true repentance and change of heart. God always longs for us return. Let us rise from or sins and run to his loving embrace.
3. Woman Behold Your Son, Son Behold Your Mother. (John 19:26&27)
From the Cross Jesus said to his mother, “Woman behold your son,” and to John, “Son behold your mother.” (John 19:26&27) Jesus endowed to his beloved mother the title, Universal Motherhood. Jesus called her woman and not mother, because if mother she would have been just his mother and no one else. At Calvary John represented the newly established Church of Christ and Christ knew that the church was young and would need a loving mother to look after. Therefore, Jesus gave to the church his beloved mother, under whose maternal love the church will spread to all ends of the earth. John needed no mother and his mother too was also present at the Cross, but Jesus’ words had spiritual meaning.
Mother Mary has an important role in the life of ever Christian, whether one accepts it or not. Some of us are misguided by the wrong understanding of the honor given to her in the Church. However, Mary continues to play a significant role in the Church and that seems to by becoming more and more important. We need to give her a place in our lives; we need her prayers and intercessions. Our Blessed Mother will never take us away from his Beloved Son Jesus; she will take us to Him.
4. My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46)
Hanging on the Cross, suffering all that any human can suffer, Jesus cried aloud, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This cry of Jesus was never a cry of despair. This is a verse from the Psalms, written 1000 years before Jesus’ birth. The Psalm begins with a cry of sorrow, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” but ends with shouts of praise and joy, “The Lord is king and he rules the nations… The Lord saved his people.” (Psalm 22)
Through this words Jesus shared with our human sentiments and expressed human longing for God. St.Augustine said that our hearts are restless till it rests in the Lord. Yes, or hearts always expresses yearning for God, let us pay heed to these yearnings. Let us never silence our desires and longings for God. Let us trust in the Lord, He knows what is best for us. “Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess for our God is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses.”(Hebrews 4:14&15)
5. I Thirst. (John 19:28)
Every human heart in the world is on the quest for God, though one may not be conscious of it. As said, our hearts are restless and we always thirst for God. Here at Calvary we see another reality as Jesus proclaimed, “I thirst.” (John 19:28) Not only is the human soul thirsting for God; but God is also thirsting for our souls, thirsting for our love. If our will does not refuse God will surely find us. At whatever condition you and I may be, let us give God a chance. He longs for our love and wants to make us his own. If we give Him a chance God will surely make our lives simply beautiful.
6. It Is Finished. (John 19:29)
Jesus realized that his end was drawing very near so He exclaimed, “It is finished!” It was not a sign of relief of thanksgiving because suffering and pain were going to be over. Instead, it was an affirmation that Jesus had done his Father’s will and that his mission has been accomplished.
How many of us would be able to say when our time comes, that we have done our best and that we have obeyed and did the will of God. All of us need to seek and do the will of God in our lives, though we may think that it is difficult to know the will of God.
But let us remember, the will of God for us here on earth is simple and clear, to know Him; to love Him; to serve Him; to be happy in this world and to be with Him in Heaven. Let us all strive to live well this mission.
7. Father into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit. (Luke 23:46)
When everything was accomplished Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
Death never came to Jesus. No one took his life away; He laid it down by himself. He could easily escape death but He knew that it was not his Father’s plan. He had suffered much and it was time for Him to return to his Father’s glory, thus, placing himself in his Father’s hand Jesus breathed his last.
We are all familiar with the hymn, “It was his love and not the nail that bound him to the tree.” Surely it was the greatest love that Christ could show us. Let us never reject this love which Jesus Christ gives us.
For many the life of Jesus seemed to have ended in the grave, but for us Christians it is never so. Death could never hold Jesus and if Jesus never arose from the death, our faith as St. Paul said will be in vain. Jesus is always with us as we tread the path towards resurrection. He asks us to take up our daily cross and follow Him. However difficult and painful the journey may be; how confused and sinful we may be, we should never lose heart. Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life will ever be near us. May the commemoration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ bring peace, joy, reconciliation, healing and conversion in our families, in our land and in our personal life. May all of us experience special and meaningful celebrations of Good Friday and Easter.
Chichanbemo Patton SDB