Devotion of The Seven Last Words of Christ – The Fourth Word – 29 March – Holy Thursday 2018
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. For centuries The Seven Last Words have been built into various forms of devotion for the consideration and consolation of the Christian people.
“Take your crucifix in your hand
and ask yourselves whether this is the religion
of the soft, easy, worldly, luxurious days in which we live;
whether the crucifix does not teach you
a lesson of mortification, of self-denial, of crucifixion of the flesh.”
Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892)
“As is well known, the initial cry of the Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, is recorded by the Gospels of Matthew and Mark as the cry uttered by Jesus dying on the Cross (cf. Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34). It expresses all the desolation of the Messiah, Son of God, who is facing the drama of death, a reality totally opposed to the Lord of life. Forsaken by almost all His followers, betrayed and denied by the disciples, surrounded by people who insult Him, Jesus is under the crushing weight of a mission that was to pass through humiliation and annihilation. This is why He cried out to the Father and His suffering took up the sorrowful words of the Psalm. But His is not a desperate cry, nor was that of the Psalmist who, in his supplication, takes a tormented path which nevertheless opens out at last into a perspective of praise, into trust in the divine victory.”…Pope Benedict XVI – General Audience 14 September 2011
The Fourth Word
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Gospel – From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”…Matthew 27:45-46 (Psalm 22(21))
Reflection: To ensure that He suffered every torment that normal man is prone to, Christ allowed Himself to experience despair. Up to this point, Jesus had suffered mainly physically. These torments had left His body racked with pain and agony. But now it was time for the ultimate pain, the pain a soul feels when it is separated from God.
The soul is spiritual being in the image of God. The human soul is like a plant is nourished by the bright sunlight of God. The human soul needs this light to grow and flourish. However, unlike a plant, the human soul does not die when it is separated from God because it cannot die. Instead the soul endures great and debilitating agony. It was this kind of agony that Our Lord willingly accepted on the Cross.
O sinful man, how can you claim that Our Lord does not understand the pain you are going through? He has suffered every imaginable punishment. He has felt the rejection of His own people. He has endured the dreadful physical pains of a brutal scourging and ignominious death on a Cross. He had endured the despair of a soul separated from God. He understands pain, agony, loss and despair. And He wishes to console you . He stands with arms out stretched on the Cross, looking to comfort you in all your distress.
Lord Jesus Christ, You know better than anyone what suffering I am enduring. I beg you to give me the grace and strength to endure these hardships, that I may offer them as penance for my sins. Help me to never refuse my cross, so that by taking it up daily I may be worthy of You one day. Amen.
Prayer of Abandonment to God’s Providence
My Lord and my God:
into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future,
what is small and what is great,
what amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot,
things temporal and things eternal.
Amen. Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.