During his life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death. (Hebrews 5:7) As Holy Week approaches we might reflect on the seven last sayings of Jesus as he hung on the Cross, sometimes known as the seven last words.
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Those who were responsible for the death of Jesus sinned against someone of infinite virtue. He nevertheless forgave them. There is no sin we can commit for which Jesus will not forgive us. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. Jesus addresses the good thief being crucified alongside him. If our sincere prayer too is to ask Jesus to remember us as he sits in glory at the right hand of the Father, we will be with him in paradise. Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother. By giving over his Blessed Mother to the beloved disciple, Jesus gives Mary to be Mother of the Church, Mother of all Christians, Mother of humanity. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? In very nature God, the second person of the Trinity which is love ineffable, empties himself fully to assume the condition of a slave and cries out to the Father in his anguish. I thirst. “People thought He was thirsty in an ordinary way and they gave Him vinegar straight away; but it was not for that he thirsted; it was for our love, our affection, that intimate attachment to Him, and that sharing of His passion.” (St Teresa of Calcutta). It is finished. A phrase found three places in Scripture; in Genesis after creation, in Revelation at the end of time, and on the cross. Jesus’ offering of himself is now perfected. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. The sun stops shining; the veil of the Temple is torn apart and with a loud cry Jesus speaks his last words. He uses his perfect freedom to choose to die; surrendering himself totally to the will of the Father.