The seven last words or phrases are those spoken by our Savior Jesus Christ during his Passion. Father James Martin presents a wonderful meditation on the topic in his latest book Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus. The book came about from preaching Father Martin gave at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York at the invitation of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
The seven last phrases are those recorded in Scripture and are as follows. To give an idea of Father Martins approach to these meditations I have also included the chapter titles for each phrase.
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus Understands the Challenge of Forgiveness
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus Understands Doubts About the Afterlife
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus Understands Feelings of Abandonment
“Woman, here is your son….Here is your mother.” Jesus Understands a Parent’s Love
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Jesus Understands Self-Offering
“I am thirsty.” Jesus Understands Physical Pain
“It is finished.” Jesus Understands Disappointment
Father Martin states in the intro, “This book focuses mainly on how his sufferings on Good Friday enable him to understand us.” I think this book does something even more valuable. It shines a light on the vey real human side of Jesus. Sometimes we spend so much time focusing on the miracles of Jesus that we easily forget he was human just as you an I.
This humanity allows our Lord and savior to understand us……..completely. “The person to whom we pray, the man we hope to follow, the one who is risen from the dead, understands us – because he lives a human life, and one that, particularly in his final week, was filled with suffering.” It’s not to hard to imagine the humanity of Jesus f we stop and take a few moments to consider it. Undoubtedly the child Jesus scraped a knee or two. He was certainly betrayed by a friend or two (in addition to Judas). He likely suffered grief from the passing of a family member.
Jesus Christ was human. Father James Martin focuses our attention on that fact and shows us that because of his humanity, Christ understands our own suffering and challenges in this life. Once you realize this an entirely new dimension will open up for you in your relationship with Jesus. It becomes personal, it becomes one of friendship.
Meditating on the seven last words of Jesus can lead us to that relationship. Father James Martin has given us the tool to facilitate that meditation. Books that can fortify this relationship are truly invaluable. Father Martin closes his book with a paragraph that sums this point up well. “Jesus, then, becomes someone we can understand better, as we would want to understand any friend. And he becomes someone with whom we can enter more deeply into relationship. Which is what Jesus thirsts for.”
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I received a copy of the book for this review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.