The Words of Jesus on the Cross
The Seven Words From the Cross
Dedication: For all those who are suffering; you are the light of the world.
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
Our Blessed Lord showed us how to carry our crosses to His Cross in His seven last words. The people humiliated, beat, and persecuted Him. They made Caesar their king, played with His garments, whipped Him, put a crown of thorns on His head, and nailed Him to the Cross. Our Blessed Lord's response was "They know not what they do." That was His excuse for us. It is because we do not think. What kind of a Savior would He be if He sent the wrath of God to us? Notice that He did not ask for an apology, but understood why they did it. Our Blessed Lord always sees us as children. He knows our ignorance. We however, always demand what we want. We forget to ask the Holy Spirit for the Gift of Understanding.
For example, we may not understand why a person may be angry with us. We do not understand that maybe the person has just gone through a tough time at his job or has had a disappointment or is in need or maybe he has a problem at home. We always demand that others respect us and treat us the way we want to be treated. Like the world, we think "If you respect me, then I will respect you." Our Blessed Lord's command however, was "Love one another" not in order to be loved or for what someone can do for us, but because the each person has dignity. No matter how small, how good, how old, or how bad the person is we must love them because human life has dignity and everyone is a child of God. We must understand people's ignorance and pray for the Herods, Pontius Pilates, and Judases so that there will be the Mary Magdelenes, Pauls, and Augustines
"This day you shall be with me in paradise."
Our Blessed Lord said these words so that we would not be in suspense about the kind of reward He gives to those who are humble. The world hates two kinds of people: those who are too good and those who are too bad. The thief of the left hated Our Blessed Lord because He was too good, and hated the thief on the right because he was too bad. The thief on the left thought only about himself. That is why he commanded Our Blessed Lord, "Save yourself and us." He does not think that he has a beam in his eye. Fulton Sheen said that the evil are those who look for the faults of others, and as a result, they never see their own. They point to the other thief so that their wrong doings will be justified. The thief on the left whines and complains about the cross he has to carry.
Not only that, he did not want Our Blessed Lord to carry His Cross as well. This is the work of Satan. Satan commanded Our Blessed Lord to make stone bread, not because he wanted Our Blessed Lord to be filled, but because he did not want Him to do the Father's will. The same way goes for the thief who tempted Him to not carry His Cross and do the will of the Father. Our Blessed Lord however, did not save Himself because He thought about us. He especially thought of the sinners of the world, including the thief on the right. He knows that if He saves Himself, there will be no paradise for us. Then there is the thief on the right. This man does not try to look for the faults of others to justify him. He knew he was wrong. That is why he said, "We have been condemned justly, for the sentences we received corresponds to our crimes."
Our Blessed Lord knew what was in his heart. As terrible as the man was, He still hears his prayers: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." The thief did not complain about his cross, but offered it up. This is why Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." We should all imitate the thief on the right. As Sheen said, "In that way you become another Good Thief, for a Good Thief is one who steals Paradise!"
"Woman behold your son. (Son) behold your mother."
Jesus told Padre Pio that only at the foot of the cross does one learns how to love. It is no surprise that Our Blessed Mother would be there. We also know that the disciple was also there. Tradition tells us that John was the disciple. When John wrote his Gospel however, he used the word "disciple". This implies that to be a disciple, you must carry your cross all the way to Calvary. It means that you must be at the foot of the Cross, where you will learn how to love. A disciple however, should not be alone. He must take the Woman with him. We know that it is hard to follow Our Blessed Lord all the way to Calvary. Our Blessed Lord knows this also. This is why He instructed us to take His mother.
Our Blessed Mother leads us to the Cross. In fact, we alone cannot go to the Cross without taking Mary as our Mother first. The disciple did not go directly to the Cross. He had to take the hand of Mary first. We read in the Scriptures that "from that hour the disciple took her into his home". Mother Teresa once said that love begins at home. This is the place where the Mother teaches her son about the Cross. It's where she teaches obedience. The Mother's role is to bring love to the home so that we can learn how to love God all the way to Calvary. So on dark nights, Our Blessed Lord gives us His mother as the moon so that we will always remember that like Good Friday, we can look at the moon to know that there is a Sun-day.
"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
It is natural for a man to complain when he does not get what he wants. It is also natural for us to cry for help when our sufferings are too much for us to bear. Our Blessed Lord however, did not complain even though it sounds like He did. Even the crowd thought He could not bear His Cross. They thought He was calling for Elijah to take the Cross away from Him. This however, is not the case. This was actually praise. Many Biblical scholars would say that He was reciting Psalm 22. We know that Psalm 22 ended with a cry to glorify God. Here, Our Blessed Lord was acting as a Mediator for man. He took our sufferings and put meaning behind them. He made suffering praise to God. He also showed us that it is not wrong to give our human nature to God. Complaining to God is not wrong. Complaining to man about God however, is wrong.
Our Blessed Lord had a human nature and He did not hide it. We too should complain to our Father about our needs. We have to be like children who cry when we don't have what we need. Always cry out to God when you cannot carry your cross even if it is halfheartedly. Take the example of Augustine when he said, "Lord, grant me chastity....but not yet." We need to be like children always who need to be spoiled and want their Father's company. We need to be selfish about God. This is our human nature. This is what made Francis Thompson cry out, "Save me, save only me." We need a thirst for God. It is the only way we can have peace. As Augustine put it, "Man, who is but a portion of your Creation, wishes to praise You. You excite him so that he may find pleasure in praising You, because You made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." One finds joy when he glorifies the one who he loves.
When Our Blessed Lord said those words, He meant, "I want your soul." Yes, God has a want too. He does not need us, but He wants us. We however, need Him. We also want Him, but we just don't know that we do. At the wedding of Cana, Our Blessed Mother told Him, "They have no wine." This was when the wine ran short. Notice how Our Blessed Mother knew our wants and needs even though we don't know them yet. "They have no wine," meant, "They need your blood". In other words, Our Blessed Mother is telling Jesus to start His hour. We need His blood so that we would inherit eternal life. He performed the miracle because He wanted us to have eternal life so that we can be with Him. This was the same thirst He had for us at the Cross.
He cried out, "I thirst" so that the sacrifice of the Cross would be finished and we can partake in it by eating and drinking His Body and His Blood. We too need that same thirst for God. We also have to recognize that He had a thirst for us long before we had a thirst for Him. Christianity is not man making a quest for God, but God making a quest for man. He is always making that quest. We however, turn it down by thirsting on the wrong things such as money, big houses, nice car, sex, pleasure, pride, etc. We thirst for these things because we want perfect truth, life, and love. We would think that these would solve all our problems. But the fact of the matter is that it makes no difference where we are in life; either we are poor, rich, single, or have a big family. We will still have to carry our crosses. The material things will not solve our problems. Actually, nothing will. But when we thirst for God, He will make the water wine. That wine will not solve our problems or lessen our sufferings, but it will put meaning behind it. Thirsting for God means to let God work through us.
Remember that He is also thirsting for us and His thirst is greater than ours, and we need to give Him that drink. Not vinegar, but wine also. That wine is our love. That wine is our desire for Perfect Truth, Life, and Love. And that which is Perfect Truth, Life, and Love is God. The material things are just fractions of what is Perfect. Perfect Truth, Life, and Love is not money, big houses, drugs, sex, pride, or pleasure, but He who died for our sins, who thirsts for our love, and He who can only bring us our real thirst, which is peace and happiness. It is ridiculous to love something that cannot love us, but only bring us temporary pleasure. We must love who can love us back and who can thirst for our love.
"It is finished"
To understand these words, we must look back to the 5th word. The 5th word was "I thirst". His thirst also relates to His hunger. His hunger was "to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work" (John 4:34). He had this hunger since He was a little boy. He told His parents when He was 12 years old that "I must be about my Father's work" (Luke 2:49). His work was to fulfill every prophecy with a perfect sacrifice. In other words, He came to this world to die.
Death is every man's fear. Fear itself comes from the fear of dying. A person who has fear of heights do not fear because of how high it is, but because he gets this vision of himself falling and die. We fear death because we always get a temptation of thinking that there is no life after death. We also don't know what will exactly happen to us. Everyone gets this temptation. However, Our Blessed Lord had a work to do. He had to die for man. And so he said, "I thirst" so that He will drink the wine and finish His work. After He drank the wine, He said, "It is finished". He knew that He would die and no fear, or any temptation could stop Him. Unlike us, who desire to live, He desired not Himself, but the world to live. The similarity of our desires with Him is that we desire for ourselves to live, and He also desires our desires. And so, His redemptive work has finished, and He can rest on the 7th day, so that we can enter the new covenant on the 8th day.
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"
After Our Blessed Lord gave up His spirit, the centurion believed in Him. He said, "This man was innocent beyond doubt." The centurion learned how to glorify God and to love because he was at the foot of the Cross.
When Our Blessed Lord said, "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit", He did not say it in a whisper. He cried it out in a loud voice (Luke 23:46). This was to show that He has sacrificed His whole life to Him. Our Blessed Lord showed true humility. He gave up His majesty, power, and wisdom to become poor, weak, and ignorant like us. He literally emptied Himself. And He did it for us. We too should empty ourselves. We would see how much less we worry when we don't have to worry about what we look like or how much we have. We would learn how to love if we focus less on ourselves. We should not however, love apart from truth. We also cannot have a love of truth apart from the love of our neighbors. There are many hypocrites who uses the excuse of "love for truth" to justify their hate for man.
However, Our Blessed Lord made the love of God and love of neighbor inseparable. The love for truth is not to learn the truth so that you can use it as a weapon against people. Imagine if there were no evil or error, would you still have the same love for truth? Would you still have the desire for truth even though you cannot prove it to people by hammering their words out? Love for truth is the condemnation of the wrongdoings of and the false doctrine, not a condemnation against the person itself. You cannot use Truth as a gun, but you should use it as a Cross. A Cross where you teach people how to love.
If you do not have joy, it is because you have not loved your neighbor enough. It also shows that you have not forgiven your enemies. It means that you have hatred instead of understanding. If you do not have peace within you, it is because you do not know the truth. Either that, or you do not practice what you know. I am probably the guiltiest of them all. But I know that you are guilty as well. We must learn humility, leave everything we have, and walk to Calvary. There at the foot of the Cross is where we learn how to love. And once we know and practice love, we can also cry out in a loud voice, that we have Peace and Joy, just as He had Peace and Joy when He commended His spirit.
If this article made one person become closer to Our Blessed Lord, then it has been worthwhile to write it.
God love you,
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