The Last Seven Words from the Cross
The final words of a dying loved One are most precious....
The final words of a dying loved One are most precious. They burn themselves into our consciousness as a summation of the decedent's life and his/her final testament to us who are left behind. We recall them at our moments of trial, discouragement or challenge; seeking strength, encouragement and even direction from them. Surely the last "words" of Jesus from the Cross have to be the most valuable memory for believers, significant for any honest enquirer after truth, and words that might even cause the hostile non-believer to pause and consider what wisdom they might possibly contain.
Evangelist. Both Mark (15:34) and Matthew (27:46) give us Jesus' plaintiff cry "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And since Mark's is the first of the written Gospels, this cry would have been the only "word" from the Cross known to the beginning Christian Community who depended on this Gospel for its knowledge of Jesus. It was twenty years later, in the decade of the 80s, that Mathew repeats this cry and no other. Luke, also writing in the decade of the 80s and John in the 90s gives us the other six "words" that we cherish for the insight they give us into the last moments of Jesus' earthly life.
Tradition has placed a thematic order on these seven "words", and it is that order we intend to follow in these meditations.
The 1st Word "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing."(Luke 23:34);
The 2nd Word "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."(Luke 23:43);
The 3rd Word "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother,'Woman, behold, your son!' Then he said to the disciple.'Behold, your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home." (John 19:26-27);
The 4th Word "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"(Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46);
The 5th Word "I thirst"(John 19:28);
The 6th Word "It is finished"(John 19:30);
The 7th Word "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"(Luke 23:46).