3716 Garden Ave. Miami Beach, FL 33140

Read the meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ prepared by Miami Beach Fire Department firefighters and command staff

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

Miami Beach Fire Chief Virgil Fernandez

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These were the first of our Lord’s final words upon the cross. Despite the tremendous torture and suffering he is going through his immediate thoughts are those of forgiveness.

We see Jesus’ natural instinct is to intercede for the souls that put Him on the cross, the souls that are persecuting him and ready to kill him. Jesus suffers out of love for us and shows us his willingness to die for the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness he is seeking is not just for them, it is for every person he is dying for and that includes me, you, and all of us.

In praying for his enemies not only did Christ set before us a perfect example of how we should treat those who wrong and hate us, but He also taught us never to regard anyone as beyond the reach of prayer and hope.

In our Lord’s prayer we ask for the forgiveness of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  To the extent we are willing to love and forgive those who do us wrong and to forgive ourselves is the extent we invite Jesus’ love and forgiveness into our hearts.

In my professional calling(career) many times I have seen the pain and suffering that humans inflict on their fellow man and the consequences of love and forgiveness not being our natural instinct.

I have also seen the natural instinct of men and women willing to put their lives on the line for individuals they don’t even know.

Let us pray to our Lord that we never lose sight that we are called to love one another as he loves us and to forgive as he forgives us.  Let us also pray that this becomes a natural instinct not only when we forgive those that we love, but also those that challenge our love for them.

 

  1. Today you will be with me in paradise

Division Chief Miguel Anchia

“Paradise” to every person, has a different meaning. It can be somewhere out of town, by the beach, with your family, or simply out of the office for the day. However, we as Catholics, must look at the bigger picture. Beyond our own paradises. Although these words were spoken with pain and agony, as Jesus was dying on the cross, he was praying for everyone but himself. He is selfless up until his very last breath. Even though they wronged him, and sentenced him to death, he still prayed that they would be forgiven and in paradise with him.

The paradise Christ speaks of, is his beautiful, heavenly kingdom. This is a call to our faith, and to show Christ, that we too forgive with grace and mercy, and we too repent our sins. To end up in the true meaning of “paradise”.

 

  1. Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother

Division Chief Jorge Linares

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘ Woman, behold your son, ‘and to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

 

This disciple whom Jesus loved, John, one of three disciples closest to him, is the only male disciple who is at the foot of the cross as Jesus is dying. The others are too afraid to be so closely identified with a man condemned by the Romans, as well as by the leaders of their own people But John is nearby, perhaps to accompany his own mother (Mary’s sister).

Some see Jesus’ Third Word as more than an act of family devotion, but rather the Beloved Disciple now joined to Mary. They picture Mary as being appointed as mother of the Church.

As I reflect on this Third Word from the Cross, I begin to see the extent of Jesus’ love. Here he is dying in agony, gasping for each breath. He sees his mother, the one who comforted him through all his childhood.

But now as he sees her at the foot of the cross, heartbroken, weeping, inconsolable, his heart goes out to her. Rather than being consumed by an understandable concern for his own welfare, he is touched by hers.

Jesus’ confirms that:

First, we must love our parents, no matter what.

Second, we are responsible for family obligations. Jesus was clear that his disciples must put commitment to him above family relationships. Our obedience to Christ must become primary and obedience to our parents must become secondary.

Having said that, just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we are absolved of family obligations. The Apostle Paul is adamant, when he says:

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Reconciling our primary commitment to Jesus with responsibility for our families sometimes comes with great difficulty. But to put Christ first doesn’t mean that we are free to neglect our other priorities, it means only that we get our priorities in proper relation to each other. God will give us wisdom to work this out.

 

  1. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Lieutenant Richard Quintela

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?” These words were spoken by our savior Jesus Christ in the last moments of his passion.  They remind us that our God incarnated himself in his only son Jesus Christ as the ultimate sign of love for us.  He showed us that he too as a human experienced pain, suffering and fear.   Not because he had to, but out of love for us.   Although I can’t say that I know exactly what Jesus was feeling at the time he spoke these words, I can say that I have had moments in my life were I have expressed those exact words, “God why have you forsaken me?”

To think that we have an almighty God that can relate to how we feel, especially during these moments of despair.

He understands our human weaknesses because he himself has experienced it.   I feel that Jesus expressed a moment of lost hope, although he knew his Father’s plan.  He knew the Father’s will, which was the ultimate victory over death, yet he still felt abandoned, by his followers, by his friends and in the end by God his father.  This feeling probably topped all the physical pain and anguish that he suffered.   Losing hope can go hand in hand with losing sight of God’s love for us and of his plan.  We must remember, He will give us the strength to endure the challenges that present themselves on a daily basis, struggles that may feel unsurpassable and even death on a cross.

Losing faith or trust in our God can break us not only spiritually but emotionally and physically.   In my line of work, we respond to our brothers and sisters that are in dire circumstances, some who are terminally ill, some may be facing the loss of a loved one and others are being caught off guard, with no warning with a terrible situation.  And while sometimes our efforts to help seem futile, I always pray that God make his presence felt.  In these situations, we can only strive to follow Jesus’ example, during the agony in the garden in which He said, (Luke 22:42) “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”  I pray that we can all turn our eyes to God when we think that all hope is lost.   May we all not only say but truly believe when we pray, “not our will God but Yours.”   Knowing that God’s will, which lies beyond our understanding, will eventually rise us up to be in his eternal grace and though we may feel forsaken, in the end God will never abandon us.

 

  1. I thirst

Fire Investigator Michael Sica

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

The modern-day Saint, Mother Teresa led by example, she created the missionaries of charity – collectively the calling exists to serve the poorest of the poor.

The words “I thirst” are written in every missionary of charity chapel to remind them: to quench the thirst of Jesus for souls, for love, for kindness, for compassion, for delicate love.”

We all face moments when the Lord challenges us to do something difficult, to brave the unknown. The Lord wants to act in our lives, but we, in our fear, sometimes hesitate or even turn our backs on the path where he is leading us.

Mother Teresa inspires us in those moments to consider our life choices in the context of Jesus’ thirst — as opportunities to satiate his thirst for our love: “Have we experienced His thirst? . . . Jesus came into this world to draw souls closer to His Father… Just think, God is thirsting for you and me to come forward to satiate His thirst.”

 

  1. It is finished

Firefighter/Paramedic Jairo Talavera

He said, It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.—JOHN 19:30.

These are the most profound words to have left our Saviors lips. As they echo throughout eternity, may they echo within our hearts. Jesus, having existed from eternity past, out of the abundant and everlasting love for His creation, humbled Himself and became a man to pay for our sins. We cannot possibly understand the depths of these three words until we can grasp that apart from Jesus and His finished work, we had no hope for eternal life. He became man to live a perfect and righteous life so that the Father may accept His life as the perfect payment for ours. If we were to reflect and examine ourselves with true sincerity, we would soon realize that we are all guilty of sin. The Bible is clear when it states that there is no one that is good except for God Himself. It only took Satan one single sin to have him cast out from the throne room of God. It only took one single sin from Adam to have him tossed from the garden of Eden into a world of death and decay. How many sins have we committed and what do we deserve for such? Herein lies the beauty and the riches of our Savior’s words.

It is finished because He finished it.

As humanity stared down into a dark, Godless, and fiery future, Jesus came down to impart upon us His perfect righteousness. Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God so that anyone who believes on Him will not have to. Whoever believes in Jesus and His finished work will now gain access to the Father and be adopted into the family. It is finished. Jesus gave humanity the gift of salvation by grace. He restored the relationship between God and man. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus redeemed us and gave us a new life. Jesus finished what He came to do. It is finished.

 

  1. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit

Firefighter/Paramedic Eric Cento

As Jesus suffered and died on the cross at the crucifixion, He said these words and took his last breath.  He is returning to the Father to be by His side after His mission on earth for 33 years of being fully human. He will now sit at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus sees His Father as His rock, His guide. We all look to our parents for guidance and advice to help us choose the right path. Our parents have the wisdom and experience we need to help us through our troubled times. Jesus was showing us through His wisdom, that He has not been defeated as many would think after His suffering and death. He is actually victorious and will live with His Father by His side. No matter how dark or hopeless things may seem, there is light and glory with God the Father.