Reflecting on the Seven Last Words of Christ

As we reflect on Christ’s sacrifice this Good Friday, the Seven Last Words give us powerful insight into His thoughts as took all the sins of mankind upon Himself. With these words, He forgives His enemies, forgives the penitent thief, cries out to God, and declares the end of His earthly life. May this brief reflection guide you in your observance of Good Friday.

The First Word

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

The Father already knows what the Son is thinking, but through these words, the Father and Son invite us into their thinking. They make us aware that forgiveness is offered to us through this sacrifice, and that through forgiveness, we are freed from the sin and lies that trap us.

The Second Word

 “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

The penitent thief acknowledged his guilt and wickedness and was welcomed by Christ. We, too, can find salvation if we acknowledge our sinfulness.

The Third Word

 “Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” John 19:26–27

This word turns our gaze from the drama of the cross to those standing at the foot of the cross. It establishes Mary not only as John’s mother, but also our mother in the faith.

The Fourth Word

 “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34

Jesus is quoting Psalm 22– He embraces His suffering by speaking to the Father with the Word. That Psalm resolves in triumph and hope, as will Christ’s suffering. The Father doesn’t abandon Christ; rather, Christ abandons himself to the Father.

The Fifth Word

 “I thirst.” John 19:28

At the beginning of Mother Teresa’s ministry, Jesus appeared to her and told her to form a community that would satisfy His thirst for souls. Similarly, at the cross we see Jesus’ thirst, not just on a physical level, but on the divine level, expressing His longing for us to come to know and love Him.

The Sixth Word

“It is finished.” Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34

With these words, we see the healing of creation. The Father’s wrath is satisfied. His compassion is delivered to His people, and we are gifted with freedom, cleanliness and grace.

The Seventh Word

“Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46

Jesus bows His head and hands over His spirit to His Father for all of us. This momentous and glorious moment proclaims that the past is finished, and a bright future is open to all. The crucifixion points to a path of hope, taking the redeemed to a never-ending future with Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit.

Adapted from the Basilica’s 2018 Lenten Reflection Series.

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