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Finding Hope in the Seven Last Words

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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Life of Christ (Week 23 of 27)

This is one of those chapters that I dog-eared right from the beginning.

Our Lord spoke seven times from the Cross; these are called His Seven Last Words. In the Scriptures the dying words of only three others were recorded: Israel, Moses, and Stephen. The reason perhaps is that no others are found so significant and representative as these three.


In His goodness, Our Blessed Lord left His thoughts on dying, for He?more than Israel, more than Moses, more than Stephen?was representative of all humanity. In this sublime hour He called all His children to the pulpit of the Cross, and every word He said to them was set down for the purpose of an eternal publication and an undying consolation. There was never a preacher like the dying Christ; there was never a congregation like that which gathered about the pulpit of the Cross; there was never a sermon like the Seven Last Words.

Life of Christ, Chapter 49, paragraphs 1-2

Like many people, I am surrounded by aging loved ones.

It’s painful to watch. It’s slow and excruciating and…a blessing.

Wait, what?

As I am intimately involved with these family members, I find myself standing in the congregation, listening to Christ’s preaching from the Cross. I help shoulder the weight of helping them and the harder job of encouraging them in the midst of their near-despair at the vagaries of their health and decreased abilities.

It feels all too easy, telling them to turn to Christ on the Cross for comfort as they face the indignities and challenges of old age.

And so, rather than offer what feels like a pat answer and leaves me uninvested, what I can do, what I am inspired to do after reflecting on this sermon of Christ’s, is to turn to the Cross myself.

Watching someone you love while they suffer is hard. Ask any parent, any spouse, anyone who loves deeply and completely.

Standing by is a form of inaction, isn’t it? What good can it possibly be?

Reading through and reflecting on Christ’s Sermon from the Cross, the Seven Last Words, is an opportunity to stand at the foot of the Cross, to imagine Him on it, holding your loved one in His arms.

Each of these words stands alone (and whose idea was it to call them “words” anyway when they’re phrases and sentences?). Any one of them could be a complete sermon, but in putting them together, we are given the gift of something so much more comforting.

Not easy, mind you. Comforting.

Jesus hung on that Cross for you, for me, for that loved one who’s trudging along on an interminable path of suffering and pain. While he hung there, he offered these words for us. And in them, I find hope.

Reading Assignment:

Chapters 50-52

Discussion Questions:

1. Which of the Christ’s Seven Words spoke most deeply to you?

2. How can you share the hope and message of one (or more) of these Seven Last Words with someone in your life this week?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • PSCM

    Short Reading
    Judith 8:25-26,27

    “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God who, as he tested our ancestors, is now testing us. Remember how he treated Abraham, all the ordeals of Isaac and all that happened to Jacob. For as these ordeals were intended by him to search their hearts, so now this is not vengeance that God exacts against us, but a
    warning inflicted by the Lord on those who are near his heart.”

    This was the reading from yesterday’s morning prayer in the liturgy of the hours. It made me think along the same lines. The indignities and challenges of aging are indeed ordeals, as is the task of a loved one accompanying them in their journey. And yet, is it not all expressive of love? We can focus on hardship and suffering for their own sake (the negative aspect) and come to despair or we can look deeper as we reflect that choosing to embrace our cross is manifesting our love, and come to hope. I recently read in a meditation, that Jesus died not only because it was necessary for our salvation and so he was forced to suffer in this way … But because of his LOVE for us. He CHOSE to die for us. We matter that much to him.

  • Mary Therese

    That was touching Sarah, and true. I’ve been there too, and you’re right, a good thing to ponder on. What touched me most in this chapter, was Sheen’s reflection on the third word, “Woman, this is thy son. This is thy mother.” Maybe it’s just the stage of life I’m in now, with kids in late teens, early 20s, starting careers, college, contemplating marriage, other vocations? It is so hard to let go of them, to let them choose for themselves. “It cost Mary something to have men as sons. She could give birth to Jesus in joy in a stable, but she could give birth to Christians only on Calvary, and in labors great enough to make her Queen of Martyrs.” I could go on and on quoting this section–it just really spoke to me, both comforting and challenging. My “job” as a mother is not done, it growing and changing, and yet I have the comfort of having the Blessed Mother to guide my way.

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