“Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46). This is the last sentence that Jesus spoke before he died on the cross, for us. In the Good Friday service of the Catholic Tradition, this is also the last sentence that the presider recites before the entire congregation kneels down in silence and acknowledges the harsh reality of Jesus’ death. These few words, simple and child-like but pregnant with poignancy speaks so much of Jesus’ reckless abandonment to his father – it reflects his radical trust and complete surrender to God.
Chris reflects on the very last words of Jesus, and what they mean for our Christian mission here on earth.
Mission Accomplished. For the longest time in my childhood, the words “Mission Accomplished” were my two favorite words in the English Language because they always appeared with the completion of a particular level and/or scenario in a video game. Be it Super Mario Brothers, Harvest Moon or Grand Theft Auto, I enjoyed playing these games as they required the fulfillment of a designated mission. The completion of a mission often gave me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. More importantly, however, the completion of a mission opened up yet another (unknown) level that I could further explore and with it came another mission to be fulfilled. This cycle was repeated until I finished playing the entire game.
Greg reflects on how a healthy spiritual life requires care of both body and soul.
“I thirst.” The New Testament tells us he said this in order that he may fulfil the Scriptures. Bible scholars say that it is at the moment of accepting the wine-soaked sponge that the 4th Cup of the Passover was drunk (For more on this SUPER interesting concept, click here!). To me, it also reminds me that Jesus was fully human, fully Divine. Whilst there are other passages where his human nature is shown, it is this moment that his most basic human desire for water is explicitly mentioned. For me, this passage is extremely sobering. It reminds me that a part of my human nature is to NEED food and water. It reminds me that no matter how hard I try, I CANNOT overcome my humanness. I must accept this Divinely created humanness.
Greg shares his reflection on these somewhat mysterious last words of Jesus on the Cross.
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Something we hear often enough – every Holy Week in fact. As Jesus was dying on the Cross, one of his last words was this very phrase. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Growing up, this phrase meant different things to me. As a child, it felt like a cry of helplessness from Jesus. That He had to bear this suffering for all of mankind. It saddened me as a child, listening to this lament of Jesus. It felt like He had given in to His fate in dying on the Cross. But as I grew into a youth, I was fortunate and blessed enough to have met numerous people who helped me to mature deeper into the faith. A priest shared with me that this cry of Jesus was more than a simple, sad lament. It was a promise. A promise of salvation. A promise of abundant Love of God. A promise of Hope. Because what started off Psalm 22:
Chris reflects on the truly self-sacrificial love of Jesus, and how this love can be an example for us.
What pain and what agony Jesus must have felt when He said those words to his loved ones. What pangs of loss and anguish that Jesus must have experienced knowing that He would be (momentarily) separated from His mother and His beloved disciples. Separation: have we all not experienced this in one way or another before? Have we all not felt pain through separation, death and loss? Separation implies a dis-connection – to separate is to break away, to break apart, to be divorced from community; indeed the oft-used phrase “to go our separate ways” is undeniably tinged with melancholy and sadness. Here, then, we see a visceral portrayal of Jesus’ humanity – His desire for community and intimacy. Indeed, apart from being the savior of the world, Jesus was also a beloved son, a beloved brother, and a loving friend. Similar to you and I, Jesus also wanted to love and be loved by those around Him, especially in seasons of sorrow and loss.
Chris reflects on the paradox of the ‘good thief’ who came to conversion by Jesus’ side on the Ctoss.
Imagine a middle-aged man who has lived a life of debauchery, decadence and waste. A man whom society would probably consider a menace, a “good-for-nothing” and an absolute failure in life. Imagine that this man whom many have given up on – possibly including himself – decides one day that he has had it, that an ultimatum is nigh. He thus commits a heinous crime: he steals something very valuable, clearly violating one of Moses’ 10 Commandments, a crime that requires him to be executed – hanged on a cross to die on Mount Golgotha … right next to Jesus Christ.
Greg reflects on Jesus’ request that His persecutors, and our own general ignorance of our inmost selves.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
The Greek philosopher Socrates was said to have uttered this line as he awaited judgement at his trial. For the unaware, Socrates was accused of corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens, and sentenced to death by poison. This was due to the fact that Socrates made the “learned” men of the community appear foolish by questioning them about their beliefs and ideas. In the process, he revealed the lack of understanding they had of their own thoughts and beliefs.
In short, Socrates realized that the only person in Athens who acknowledged his own ignorance was himself. I think this implies that most, if not all of us, are ignorant. And indeed, I think the more we look into ourselves, the more we realize that we don’t know a lot, even about ourselves. I think this point about our ignorance always gets me strongly, particularly when I look at the Passion. “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).