This is the final meditation on Jesus' seven last words from the cross. I hope they have helped you enter more deeply into the mystery of the Lord's suffering that he endured out of love for all humanity. The following were his final words as he entrusted himself one final time to the Father's care.
‘It was now about the sixth hour and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”. When he had said this, he breathed his last’ (Luke 23:44-46).
The end was near. He was in great distress, overcome by pain, his mind in turmoil. His last words were crucial for they would give us an insight into whether he had kept faith right up to the end. Despite the terrible circumstances of his death and how he was broken in mind and in body, could he make that last and final push over the line and abandon himself to his Father as he had done all his life? His prayer ‘Into your hands I commend my spirit’ was his leap of love from life on earth to life with the Father. Those words were the password into God’s presence, into those hands - those safe hands stretching out to receive his weary soul. Not for him the fear of judgment, for in him there was no sin. For us, there may be fear indeed for we have sinned and have, at times, turned our back on him. Yet even at our final moment, we can turn one last time to him and, like Jesus, make our last words like his: ‘Father into your hands I commend my Spirit’.
At that moment, all that we ever had will be left behind. At that moment, we will be stripped of everything except our ability to repeat those words and entrust ourselves one final time to the God who awaits us. Listen to these beautiful words of Andrew Robinson, a young seminarian, who wrote them as he was about to die from cancer: ‘As you get closer and closer to the finish line you feel the exhilaration, you begin to smile and shed a tear of joy, one final push and you cross the line. You enter that light in all its glory. Death is that moment of transition when, please God, I will be fully reunited to the Father’ (Andrew Robinson, Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn). At that moment he is waiting for us to tell the story of our lives which only he can understand. He knows the burdens we have carried, the struggles too, the reasons for our failure and our sins. He will whisper into our ear: ‘Come!’ Then we shall enter, happy and ready to wait until purified and made worthy to be with him and to rest forever in those loving arms.
Lord Jesus, I embrace your cross, Lord of eternal love. Have mercy on me. Receive me into your love. And when I come to the end of my pilgrimage, when the day begins to decline and the shadows of death surround me, may I speak your last words at the end of my life too: ‘Father into your hands I commend his spirit’. Amen.