St. Peter's on Capitol Hill
Seven Last Words of Jesus
What to do this week?
(John 19, 28)
Next to the crucifix in the chapels of every convent that Mother Teresa founded are written these words, “I thirst.” These words of Jesus hanging on the Cross are not just the fulfillment of the prophesies of the Old Testa-ment. They are, above all, his statement on why he is suffering for you and me. He thirsts for us. He desires to be with you and me, to be in us in the Eucharist, to be above us on the Cross and to be with us on our journey to him in heaven.
Thought for the Day:
Pray with Blessed Teresa
"Jesus is God,
therefore His love,
His thirst, is infinite.
He the creator of the universe,
He asks for the love of His creatures.
He thirsts for our love… These words:
‘I Thirst’ –
Do they echo in our souls?”
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
(Matthew 27, 46)
In order to really understand what Jesus is saying as he cries from the Cross, one has to read the entirety of Psalm 22.
The psalm speaks of human misery, but concludes,
“Save me from the lion’s mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls. I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the assembly I will praise you.”
Jesus did not just pretend to be human; he was human. He entered into the depths of human misery because that is where he knew he would find us. Into this despair he brings light. From the jaws of death, he carries us to eternal life.
His prayer is one we all can understand – did God forget me? The answer is no, we just have to remember to call upon him when things seem dark. The way out may not be easy, but it will be healing if Jesus is brought into our sorrow. The key, as the psalmist explains, is to proclaim his name both in the light and the dark.
Thought for the Day: Pray for two things: 1) To remember to pray when things seem especially dark. 2) For those in our lives who are in despair, especially if we are not aware of their sadness.
Today you will be with me in Paradise.
(Luke 23, 43)
This is the promise to the repentant thief whom we call Dismas. We don’t really know if that is his name, all we know of him is this story from the Gospel and that he is in heaven. There is lore told of him that when Jesus was a little baby Mary was bathing him in the yard. Mary took Jesus inside to dry him. A woman came by with a leprous child. She snuck into the yard and washed her child in the bathwater. Immediately the child was healed. That child grew up and fell into a life a crime. It was only on the cross that he met the one who had cured him many years before.
This fable is meant to teach what truly happens in the waters of Baptism. We are healed. When we move far away from Christ, we can always come back, even at the moment of our death. However, what a shame it is if one waits too long.
We are called to be the agents that help people find Christ. There are so many Catholics who have fallen away. We meet them every day, Their hearts yearn for the promise of paradise.
Thought for the Day: Pick one person who is away from the Church and pray for him or her often. In what small way can I show him or her about God’s love?
Behold, your Son. Behold. your Mother.
(John 19, 26-27)
At this moment John represents the whole Church. Mary cares for us and we are to care for her. We turn to her with countless “Hail Mary’s” but we are also asked to protect her. How?
Mary is a mom. Respecting Mary involves a deep respect for the family that God has put in our lives. When we walk into St. Peter’s and see the image of Mary at the foot of the Cross, say a prayer to love your family and friends as honestly and lovingly as you can.
We also protect Mary by protecting the Church. Mary is a model for the Church. As she bore Jesus into the world, so we are asked to bring Jesus to the world. As she stood at the foot of the Cross, so we are asked to believe when it is difficult to trust. When someone criticizes the Church, we need to realize that we, like St. John, have been asked to protect and defend her even if it is socially awkward.
Thought for the Day: Say a decade of the Rosary for your family and for the courage to speak up when someone criticizes the Church.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
(Luke 23, 34)
In the Gospel of St. John, we learn that just after Jesus’ death, the soldiers did not break his legs but one soldier thrust a lance into Christ’s side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (Jn. 19, 34) From Jesus’ wounded heart came the life of the Church: the blood of Christ is the Eucharist and the water of Christ is Baptism. Life from death, blessing from wounds. This is the essential mystery and paradox of Christianity.
Our Lord’s prayer to his Father to forgive us shows that blessings flow from his pain. Although our hurts are real, no wrong that we suffer can ever equal the injustice done to Christ on the Cross. The spotless lamb led to slaughter for you and me. As we recall his words, pray for his generos-ity to flow down upon you. Remember, there are no grudges in heaven. Leave them in confession.
Thought for the Day: Think of someone who has hurt you and whom you need to forgive. Hear Jesus pray on the Cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do…” Let his word come now from your mouth.