Skip to comments.What Are The Seven Last Words of Christ? (From Archbishop Fulton Sheen)
Posted on 03/27/2010 2:33:52 PM PDT by Salvation
What Are The Seven Last Words of Christ?
The Seven Last Words of Christ
The Seven Last Words of Christ refer, not to individual words, but to the final seven phrases that Our Lord uttered as he hung on the Cross. These phrases were not recorded in a single Gospel but are taken from the combined accounts of the four Gospels. Greatly revered, these last words of Jesus have been the subject of many books, sermons, and musical settings. The following meditations are based on the writings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary.
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Lk 23:34)
When Jesus was hanging on the cross he asked for forgiveness for the people who were responsible for this great evil, and he gave a reason that they should be forgiven. He said it was because they were ignorant of their deeds. Bishop Fulton Sheen says their ignorance was a great blessing to them. We often hear that you get to know life through experience. This is true in the areas of travel and fine dining, but it doesn't apply to everything. We should all desire to be free from the experience of sin just as a healthy doctor is free from disease. It is the disordered craving for knowledge that destroyed the unity that Adam and Eve had with God.
Keeping a safe distance from sin is what allows us to know how horrible it really is. You learn just how strong an enemy is by defeating it in battle, not by surrendering to it. If knowledge and experience was the key to happiness and morality then we would be the most virtuous people who ever lived.
Our Lord's Passion was so horrific because He was so innocent. Sinning against someone of infinite virtue brings with it infinite guilt, but as He hung there on the cross he asked that the offenders be forgiven. Through our sins we too are equal parties in Passion, but we have an equal opportunity to be forgiven. Only the Sacrament of Reconciliation makes it possible for you to be forgiven for the times you have experienced too much.
" Amen, I say to thee: this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Lk 23:43)
Our Lord's second last words were in response to the good thief whose words we say at Mass: remember me, Lord, when you shall come into your Kingdom. When you compare the good thief with the bad thief you discover that the difference between them is in their wills. One recognized the injustice of Christ's crucifixion and asked to be forgiven; the other mocked and blasphemed Our Lord. The good thief accepted the justice of his circumstances and was rewarded that day.
Everyone has his cross to bear and in bearing it we become perfected in God's eyes. We should not think of our suffering as a punishment because it is given to us for a reason. Even Mary, who was made free from original sin underwent the greatest of suffering. The tragedy in the world is not that there is pain, but that it is often wasted.
If we accept the unique crosses that each of us are meant to bear then we will be treated like royalty in heaven. The good thief only found his salvation because he was hanging on a cross. The reason we tend to be such mediocre Christians is because we refuse to let God use us the way He needs to. When the Virgin Mary heard the voice of the Archangel Gabriel, she did not ask what she needed to do; she said she would allow God to do what He needed to do. We too must be like clay in an artists hands. Fulton Sheen says our lives consist of only two things: active duties and passive circumstances. The first is in our control and should be done in God's name. The second is out of our control and should be submitted to in God's name. We are not made perfect by knowing the will of God, but by submitting to it.
Woman, behold thy son. To the disciple, Behold your mother. (Lk 19:26-27)
When someone says to you, You have your own life to live, remember that you live it along side everyone else. As a Christian, love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God. The value of relationships is exemplified in Jesus' third last words. The tragedy of the Passion united Christ's family just as tragedies continue to unite people today. As Our Lord was hanging on the cross he united His mother with all Christians.
By referring to His mother as woman He distinguished her from just being His own mother and gave her to all of us. The night before, Our Lord willed His body to us at the Last Supper. At the foot of the cross he willed us His mother too. For thirty-three years she saw God in Christ and from this moment on she would see Christ in all Christians. And like a mother giving birth to a child, she become the mother of humanity in equal pain and anguish. It is no disservice to Christ to honor His mother. Just as Christ was formed in her, so must we be formed in her. Only she who raised Christ can raise a Christian.
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34)
Our culture is increasingly overrun with problems of addiction. Untold numbers of people struggle with alcoholism, pornography, and violence. These are the torments of a world in despair. Feeling abandoned we might call out the same words the Our Lord did, but His words had a different meaning. The fourth last words of Our Lord come from the first line of Psalm 21. This is the psalm that says, my bones have been numbered and they have drawn lots for my cloak. But while the first half of the psalm is about suffering, the last half of the psalm is about hope. It ends with an acknowledgment that whatever happens, we are assured victory over our enemies.
There was no darker hour for Jesus than His crucifixion, yet He trusted His Father in spite of all the contrary appearances that things would end well. He was not abandoned or forgotten but He had to suffer before claiming His prize. Just as there is no feast without our preparations and no success without failure, there could be no empty tomb without there first being a cross. For the person who has hope, there is no obstacle that can't be overcome. For the person who despairs, there can be only darkness. We must pray in confidence that every prayer of ours will be answered, and even when the answer is no, we have to be mindful that comes from the outpouring of a Father's love.
I thirst. (Jn 19:28)
The fifth last word of Christ echoes Isaiah 55:1, Come, all you who thirst. Whether you acknowledge it or not, everyone has a thirst for God. Everyone desires something deeper and seeks someone higher. As Our Lord hangs on the cross, He says that it works two ways. God is also on a quest for our souls: He is the Hound of Heaven. We tend to desire God, but we want proof before we will commit to a God who seems so far away. We fail to realize that it we who have distanced ourselves from God and not He who remains distant from us, for He seeks us like a shepherd seeks a lost sheep.
There are many people who hate God and His Church that can't seem ever break away from its influence. These people should be prayed for because they are like St. Paul before his conversion. They may do great evil but their refusal to abandon God can be the source of their eventual return. Despite the reasons they give for hating the Church, they most likely realize that problem is really within themselves and does not have to do with God. The consciousness of their sins creates a vacuum that only grace can fill. God thirsts for the souls of even the worst sinners and while no one can deserve God, everyone can receive Him.
It is consummated. (Jn 19:30)
The expression used by Our Lord can be found three places in Scripture. It is found in Genesis after creation, in Revelation at the end of time, and here on the cross. It means that what was done is now perfected and for Christ it marks the end of His hour. During the wedding feast at Cana Jesus first mentioned His hour. He told his mother that his hour had not come; it was not time to begin his mission. For His hour, which lasted three years, it would be a time of mortification, suffering and death. For us it has to be the same thing.
Many people are frustrated in their lives because they have rejected the cross. Instead of pursuing non-attachment in their lives, they fill them worldly substitutes. Instead of embracing the mysteries of religion, they embrace murder mysteries on television. They criticize people and religion for the very things they despise in themselves. They are consumed with themselves, yet defeated because self-perfection can't exist without self-denial. We must actively use our hour to improve our lives as Christians if we ever expect to find happiness. It is only in surrendering ourselves as Christ did that we become receptive to His grace.
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. (Lk 23:46)
Our Lord called out His final words in a great voice; meeting death head-on. Rather than wait for death to come and take Him, He used His perfect freedom and chose to die. There are two kinds of freedom. There is a freedom from something and freedom for something. Most people prefer the first kind of freedom because it is easier. Freedom from vegetables, freedom from oppression. The second kind of freedom is much more difficult because it implies a responsibility that can often be a burden. Freedom to choose, freedom to change. To understand the supreme nature of this kind of freedom we have to look at Christ on the cross.
There are only three things we can do with our freedom. We can direct it selfishly towards ourselves, we can scatter it among a thousand trivial things, and we can surrender it to God. The first option is by far the most damaging because when we believe we are free to act as badly as we choose, we become slaves to our addictions. As Fulton Sheen says, boundless liberty leads to boundless tyranny. Uncontrolled freedom will always lead a person into slavery. The second alternative can be found in people who have no direction. Their fleeting desires change without there ever being an internal change of the soul, and they are unable to choose between the many attractions and temptations in life. But there is hope because there is a searching. Those who are empty can be filled, but people who are intoxicated with their own egos have no room for God.
The final choice is to surrender yourself to God and His will. Only when you have displaced the me can you find the perfect freedom that Christ had as He breathed His last. It was His self-giving sacrifice that made possible the Resurrection.
What would your seven last words be? The Seven Last Words of Christ are filled with meaning and help to establish the relationship between Christians and the Church, Our Blessed Mother and all Christians, and Christ and His family. To see how these last words relate to Mary's first words, I encourage you to read Seven Words of Jesus and Mary. Another excellent resource on the Seven Last Words from Fulton Sheen is The Cross and the Beatitudes. In a similar style, he compares the Last Words with the Beatitudes that Jesus preached during the Sermon on the Mount.
Is there another layer of meaning underneath these words of Christ?
I think so.
This article addresses some of them.
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I always thought His last words were said just before He ascended back to heaven. You know, go forth unto all the earth and make disciples of all the nations.
For meditation only.
The last seven words BEFORE He died.
This is talking about his words spoken with great difficulty from the Cross. He had to arch his back, push with his legs to fill his lungs with enough air to speak.
It’s worth praying about, I think.
Yes it is...Thanks for the post.
Verily is #2.
It is worth praying about...
Yes it is-if we make an effort to understand what Christ did for us, we will have a much greater appreciation for the Atonement, and love of The One that did for us what no one else could do, so we can prepare to return to God. Also of the Father that gave His Son.
In today’s world, that is prcious knowledge, as much as we can understand.
His final words from the Cross.
That is what makes those words so very special. Plus as my tagline says, those words speaks to us as individuals.
There are some very anti-biblical things posted there, ie: mary being the mother and we’re supposed to revere her and woship? Mary had quite a few children, Jesus was just the first, he had brothers/sisters. The only head of the church is Christ, no man can fill that place or speak for God, Christ interceded for us all, and the only hope of salvation is but through him, there’s a lot of man-made rules that got tossed in and in these days, it’s time to trim down and trust the word of God which is the holy bible. No other book has any authority from God, that is against the word of God as well.
One Lent a few years back, at a church in the downtown Hartford,CT, a special weekly Lenten lunchen had for seven weeks the last seven words as its theme. The very last Tuesday lunchen meetup, the church’s orgin played a meditation on the last of the last seven words, so people had to leave the meal to step in briefly for that presentation.
It is NOT a call to “worship” Mary. These last words of Christ from the Cross are from the VERY GOSPELS that you make reference to. What this thread is all about it is just a meditation during Holy of the last seven words of Christ. The part about Mary and John is that the former was the first Christian disciple as well as Jesus’s command to John to take care of his mother.
Christ talks to me several times a week.
It’s a Catholic website.
**supposed to revere Mary**
What did Jesus do? He went with his parnets to Nazareth and was OBEDIENT to them......so he did respect/revere his Mother.
**Mary had quite a few children**
Not true.....I hope you will stop believing the anti-Catholic propaganda you are being fed. “Brothers is used for the word brethren — if you study the Greek and Latin — that refers to cousins. There were no brothers. Even Luther, Calvin and Zwingli agreed with the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (I’ll post those links in the next box.)
**The only head of the church is Christ,**
You are right.........Christ is the head of the Catholic Church too. However, he was smart enough to know that He was going to die, and so he chose a leader — Peter. Please see the apologetics threads I have been posting on this subject.
**Christ interceded for us all**
Christ died for all men’s sins........many choose not to believe......we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints to pray for us............not die for us like Christ did.
Don’t you live by man-made rules — stop at red lights, not kill someone with a gun? These rules are guidlines......just like other rules.
I hope and pray you can open your mind to accept a little bit more of the truth. Have a blessed Easter.
There are some very anti-biblical things posted there, ie: mary being the mother...Really? Who is the Mother of Our Lord then? What sect or denomination do you adhere to?
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