The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Sufferingis the perfect meditation resource for Lent. Author Daniel P Horan, O.F.M. took the Good Friday talk on The Seven Last Words of Christ he gave in 2011 to his brother Franciscans in Manhattan and turned it into this book. His fresh perspective on this topic leaves us owing him a debt of gratitude for sharing it with us readers. Daniel states in the introduction “so often the good news of the Gospel becomes nothing more than a muted version of an overused tone. By highlighting the ways in which our Christian discipleship is dependent on our sharing in the passion of Christ, it is my hope that this Lenten retreat – this invitation to take time and reflect on the Seven Last Words of Jesus – serves as a source of renewal and motivation.”
The book works it way through the Seven Last Words of Jesus:
The First Word – “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
The Second Word – “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Third Word – “Woman, behold your son.”
The Fourth Word – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
The Fifth Word – “I thirst.”
The Sixth Word – “It is finished.”
The Seventh Word – “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Each of these sections is divided into a Scripture passage, a reflection, reflection questions and a prayer.. There were many highlights in the book and I will share a few that really spoke to me as I worked through the meditations.
One point Daniel made really jumped out to me in the section The Third Word. “My guess is that most of the disciples ran away because they wanted to save their lives. They, in the real face of danger, could not deny themselves to take up their crosses, so they were forced to deny Jesus and leave him alone to carry his cross. They didn’t understand, but really – when we’re honest with ourselves – do we?”
Another, that would make anyone stop and reflect, appears in The Fifth Word based on Jesus uttering the words “I thirst” from the cross. Daniel puts forth an interesting analogy between thirst and our modern use of water. “Jesus continues to thirst in the lives of those hanging on the crosses of poverty and oppression. What is that we have done or failed to do to serve the least among us? Do we work to alleviate the suffering of our brothers and sisters, helping to fight against injustices that allow for nearly half the human race to go without basic sanitation and clean water? Or do we flush our resources down the toilet and water our lawns with what could sustain the least among us without a second thought?”
These and more await the reader in this great meditation. The last words of Jesus hold so much meaning for us all. This meditation on love and suffering is a must read for the Lenten season. We all owe Daniel Horan deep gratitude for bringing his talk to print for the general public to grow and learn from.
I received a copy of the book for this review from the publisher Franciscan Media.
You can read my interview with author Daniel Horan here.