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Meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ prepared by doctors, nurses and staff from Mt. Sinai Medical Center

Introduction: Maestoso ed adagio

1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Largo

Meditation by Dr. Ignacio Zabaleta – NICU

2. Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Grave e cantabile

         Meditation by Dr. Levi Diaz – Internal Medicine

3. Woman, behold thy son. Grave

         Meditation by Ms. Wilma Maranan – ICU

4. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Largo

        Meditation by Mr. Gino Santorio – Administration

5. I thirst. Adagio

         Meditation by Ms. Dharma Mirabent – Rehabilitation

6. It is finished. Lento

         Meditation by Dr. Tony Adams – NICU

7. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Largo

         Meditation by Dr. Leilany Irizarry – Internal Medicine

Coda: Earthquake

“Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

The end for this man is just beginning. But he knew exactly what a. he was to suffer.

Just the night before, he asks his father:

(Luke 22:42,44) “Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

“And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of

blood falling down upon the ground.”

The extreme distress of Jesus’ soul is manifest through his body.

Although Christ is a Divine Person, the human nature he has assumed gives him the full capacity to suffer and die as a man (Hebrews 2:14-15)

And suffer he has to this point. Scourged, the skin ripped off of his back by the whip.

Blindfolded, spat upon, crowned with thorns, famished, and exhausted, he is forced to carry on his back, the “instrument” of his execution.

Now, even now, as they are hammering nails through his hands and his feet, the Divine nature of his being emerges as he begs his father to forgive them their ignorance, their

sinful nature, their human weaknesses.

This brotherly love for his fellow man, total strangers, torturing and killing him can only come from his Divine grace.

I pray that Christ in his Divine Mercy, may help us all in this difficult time. Help us to look with mercy upon our fellow men and women, forgive them their and our short temper, near sightedness, selfishness, impatience, and hate. Only through and with his Divine Grace can

we overcome the suffering of this Pandemic.

 

Amen, I say to you, this day you will be with me in paradise.

In these last words, spoken in painful gasps, there is a hidden promise for all who choose to believe in their hearts, that Jesus is here to save us.

His offer of grace, forgiveness, and mercy to a hardened criminal on Golgotha, gives certainty that he is here for us too.

Our Lord knows our struggles in choosing mundane pleasures over him, evil vs good, as well as our repeated tendency to fall out of stray.

This is our call to have faith in God’s Mercy, our call to holiness because he wants us to be home with him, in his heavenly kingdom, in paradise.

In his pain and suffering, he makes a promise for those who believe, repent, and ask him to remember us in our own misery.

He confirms he is here to convert sinners, not the righteous, as a person who spent his life committing crimes recognizes his sins and encounters the open arms of the father.

Even in our last moment, despite our faults and sins, we can hope for heaven, because Jesus Christ our Lord came precisely to bring us there.

 

Woman, behold your son

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home (John 19: 25-27)

Jesus at the moment of his greatest agony remained selfless and was more concerned about those whom he loved. His third word was a radical service of love and grace. His message is clear: You belong to a family that not even death can destroy. There is God who surrounds you with the true love of a mother and the faithfulness of a true child. This is a precious moment to witness as Jesus entrusts Mary and John to one another as family.

The first part of the third word of Christ was addressed to his mother. He alone who knew the greatness of her love, could know the greatness of her sorrow and now his death is to inflict on her the hardest blow of all. From faithful love and as an example to all children, to all sons and daughters, he provided as well as he could on his deathbed for his mother. He confided her to a man who he was convinced, would fill his place as far as was possible and who would lighten the sorrow of Mary at the loss of her son. “Woman, behold your son.”

The second part was addressed to John. The Savior was troubled also by the grief and sadness of his disciple who so faithfully stood beneath the cross. To console him for the dire loss which he was to suffer in his death, Christ gives him his own mother as a compensation: “Son, behold your mother.” Hereby Christ reminds his disciple of his duty to care for Mary as a good child ought. And John, from that hour, took her unto his own.

The act of giving and receiving was not meant only for our Blessed Mother and John. It was meant as a command to all.

“Woman behold your son”, with these words, Jesus is entrusting all of humanity to Mary’s motherly care. He is making her the spiritual mother of all. Symbolically, she represents the Church. Next, Jesus speaks to John, the beloved disciple. “Son, behold your mother.” It is the conviction of the Holy Church that at that moment, John represented the entire human race. Following John’s example, let us welcome the Blessed Mother into our hearts.

 

My God, my God why have you forsaken me:

Hebrews 13:5

For God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.

And yet the Lord, from the cross yells out asking why God has forsaken him.  This may be a glimpse into the true suffering during those darkest hours that the Lord went through to cleanse us of our sins and God’s giving of his only son to save us.  The Lord’s questioning of God forsaking him may also reference Psalm 22.  In the first verse of Psalm 22 from the Hebrew old testament, an individual is crying out to God for abandoning him and asks God to save him.  God does save this individual in the final verses of Psalm 22.  And so, God did not forsake the Lord, but rather answered the call and saved him as he would all of us.

 

I thirst

“After this, knowing that everything had now been accomplished, and to fulfill the Scripture, Jesus said, ‘I thirst’” John 19:28 

… and a sponge with sour wine was given to him, and he tasted it, because Jesus the man was indeed thirsty at the cross, but Jesus the Messiah was to complete his mission, to drink from the last cup of wine. To be finished.

Mother Teresa tells us that Jesus thirst for our love; that He thirst for us to come to him.  He loves us for who we are. Jesus thirsts for us to accept him, for us to be forgiven by him, to give our life to Him.

Today, after a year of isolation, disease, pain, loneliness, Jesus still thirsts for us to come to him. To walk through the desert and seek his shelter. To bring our troubles to Him, and He will make them light.  For us to live the hope that only comes from His love.

Today I thirst too.  I thirst to again be close to my loved ones and to each other. I thirst to share in His Spirit; I thirst to follow in His life.  Like the Samaritan woman, I want to drink from the living water and not be thirsty again.

How do I quench your thirst, Lord?  Is it in praying with conviction? Is my service to others a reflection of your love?  Is it living a life with your purpose? Is it in finding our own intimacy with you?  How do we all quench Jesus’ thirst?

Jesus, I want to satiate this thirst. Help me see what you want from me.  Help me be like a cup of good wine and satisfy your thirst.

 

It is Finished…

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

It is NOT that Jesus is finished but rather that his mission is finished. Thru his death and resurrection, he came to fulfill the covenant of the father. His ultimate purpose was point and united us to the father, and to save us from our sins.  His mission was completed in the short span of his life. Jesus in a humble and obedient way expresses to the father the completion of his mission, and in the ultimate expression of love died for our sins.

Each and every one of us has a mission to fulfill, a mission which God thru grace, reveals to us.  A mission which ultimately brings us and the entire humanity, to a closer relationship with the father to fulfill his will.  What is our mission?  Do I have the courage like Jesus to fulfill this mission?

Father, grant me the grace to know thy will and fulfill your mission, to be able to say to you at the end of my journey on earth, “mission accomplished”, and to hear you say, “well done my faithful servant”.

 

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit

The Unimaginable Happened

The Son of God, our Savior, died like a criminal on the cross.

He died for each of us…for our sins, our redemption.

Despite his human nature, he never complained, uttered insults, took revenge, or even tried to defend himself – truly the Lamb of God.

At the hour of his death, after being tortured, humiliated and suffering, Jesus said “Father unto your hands I commend my spirit.”

We might think that this is a phrase of despair or defeat.

I think of it as surrender, but not in the sense of giving up, but rather, more like He is submitting to the Father’s will and His love for us.

His was the ultimate sacrifice.

It is an accomplishment – a triumph of life over death, all part of His plan.

For through His death, we are reborn.

We too are called to put our blinded trust in the Lord, so that “His will be done.”

Jesus taught Love, yet we still resorted to hatred.

He came to exonerate us from our sins, yet we found Him guilty.

He came to heal us, yet we crucified Him.

But His mission was accomplished…by His grace and example…He reveals his unconditional love for us, despite our faults and failures.

Let us transform our lives so that we too can become beacons of love.

That we can heal this ill world, with kindness and compassion.

That we become vehicles of life.

Let us take up our crosses, and live our lives in accordance with His teachings, that we too can say in those times of trouble and tribulation, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”