Finding Hope in the Seven Last Words
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.
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.
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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