Hello, Saint Vincent’s Family!
It has been a long standing tradition at our Parish, and the Catholic Church, to reflect and engage in the Seven Last Words of Christ. These phrases were spoken directly from the mouth of Our Lord as He hung from that rugged cross and, later, died for the sake of our world. It is apt, then, that we continue this tradition as we witness our suffering world.
The current pandemic is threatening to take away all the things that we treasure as a Church: our faith, our health, and our since of community and our fellowship with God. There is no coincidence that these are all of the things that the evil one threatened to take from us thousands of years ago, when Jesus’ death on the cross seemed to be the end of His mission.
These mini reflections on the Seven Last Words from members of our Parish not only reflect and engage the final sayings of our Redeemer, but they speak life into our seemingly dead world. They assure the world that the Resurrected Christ is still very much alive!
Terrance Fulton & Mary Laver
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34
The first Word of Jesus on the cross is very potent, powerful and the most beautiful word ever spoken and heard in the planet. Here, Jesus pleaded the Most High God to forgive those torturing Him. In addition He said they are ignorant of what they are doing.
Reflecting on the first Word, my Lord and savior was nailed on the cross, why? Not because I put Him on the cross, but through my sins, ignorance, and lack of faith in the person of Jesus Christ. It is my duty as a Christian to learn from Him, who is on the cross pleaded to the father to forgive His torturers. What a loving Jesus we serve! By His wounds, the wounds of my ignorance will be healed.
As I ponder on the first Word, I ask our savior to heal my ignorance, forgive me my sins, increase my faith in Him and lead me back to the fullness of life.
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sinned against us”, to me this phrase is immense, Forgiveness is the key for eternal life. Therefore, I am obligated to forgive my fellow human beings with love and simplicity.
In my (our) live, I (we) receive forgiveness, not because I (we) act in ignorance, not because I (we) did anything to deserve it, but because of God’s grace, mercy and love that was revealed on the cross.
So brothers and sisters, it is my (your) duty to learn from our Leader Jesus Christ to forgive myself (yourselves) so that we will live today and forever in the reality of the forgiveness we have in Chris Jesus, Amen.
“Verily, I say unto you, today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:43
Today you will be with me in Paradise.
These words speak to me of hope. What would our lives be without hope? Hope is one of the many gifts God has given us to navigate our journeys. To lift us up, over, and beyond all the pain and suffering that we can bear. Hope enables us to endure, giving us the opportunity to understand pure joy and oneness with God. Hope is the pathway, the conduit between the deepest pain we can feel, and to the purest joy that we can’t even fathom on this earth. Hope is knowing and believing that in our darkest hour God’s light will shine on us and guide us home.
When I read Luke – 23:43 My eyes are drawn to the words of Luke – 23:42:
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
There is hopefulness in these words. Even when Jesus is beaten, broken and nailed to the cross with death approaching, He finds a way in His heart to give us hope. The message being, we can enter into His kingdom. We only need to ask and we will be delivered with Him into Paradise.
Frank M. Palmieri
“Woman, behold thy son. [Says to disciple] Behold thy mother.” John 19:26–27
Through the Spirit of Resurrection, we share all things in Christ, through Jesus. We are co-inheritors by faith. Incredibly, in a true act of Mercy, he gave up himself for all us. For all of humanity, whom He loves, He emptied himself, and through the Power of the Holy Spirit, became incarnate in Our Blessed Mother. When he rose from the dead, the dead were raised. His Mother became our Mother: A Mother to comfort, encourage, and protect us all.
To go to her is to come to Jesus; Liberator of all.
How truly an honor it is to be in her Presence. She never abandoned Jesus, and never abandons us in prayer.
In Philippians, Chapter 4, it states:
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
To go to Our Blessed Mother, to honor her, in our home, and in our lives, is to come to Jesus. This is made possible through Christ, who empowers us.
All things are made possible through Christ.
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46/Mark 15:34
This phrase really rings true in these times, but not just in the way that people may think.
Jesus is God made flesh. Jesus came down from heaven and became human. In these last words we get a glimpse of His humanity. He feels abandoned.
He knew that this suffering was only for a moment and that He would be resurrected from the grave. But in this moment, He feels the full weight of the human suffering. Jesus – despite being God – felt afraid. He was afraid of what was to come and He felt wholly abandoned by His own Heavenly Father. But, ultimately He knew the will of the Father and so He continued in this mission, despite his ability to free himself from this suffering.
We need to keep this in mind as we consider the times that we are living in today! Today we suffer and the world suffers from this pandemic and we are fearful and doubtful. But we can be comforted knowing that Jesus, who also suffered and was fearful and was doubtful even though He was fully God, is always with us. Emmanuel! God is in our midst!
So if we’re going to do what Jesus did and cry out to God “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”, then we must persevere as Christ did, through His suffering, so that we too may be exalted!
I love you, Saint Vincent’s Family!
Dorina Pina Opferman
“I thirst.” – John 19:28:
“I thirst”, part of Jesus’ last seven words, reminds me of a song that goes:
“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul needs You Lord. I’m thirsty God, You’re the living water. And my soul, Jesus, it needs You Lord”.
Upon His death, Jesus reminds me that I need Him. The same way that I thirst for water every day and drink it in order to survive; I must also go to Jesus everyday in order to survive.
This is something that I struggle to do and because of that struggle, I thirst.
But similar to Jesus dying to lift the burden of my sins, His thirsting in death allows me to be spiritually contented in life.
“It is finished.” – John 19:30
These powerful three words, said from the cross, were not words of the finish to the pain and agony of the cross. They were words of the finish of Jesus’ mission his Father gave him from his incarnation. He had to be fully human and fully divine in order to spread the Good News of the Gospel in words and actions. The lesson learned through his death and resurrection was that this was the only way for us to have salvation and forgiveness. And to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Have you ever had a task to complete which would effect the lives of others? We do now and it’s called Coronavirus. Jesus taught us the how to love, our brothers and sister be they black, white, brown, young, old, those that live on the margins of society and the world. We were His missions, his task and He fulfilled it through His suffering, death and His , “it is finished”.
In this new age of the Coronavirus which has brought us suffering, death, fear and isolation we have to deal with a new reality. I pray that we can hold on to the fact that Jesus loved us enough to deal with the humiliation of the cross to show us how to deal with tragedy and the racial disparity that COVID-19 is forcing us to deal with. That’s our lesson to learn during the challenges of life. We don’t have to be hung on the cross, we just need to carry this cross called COVID-19 and go through that cross. We are a creative people of faith, hope, charity and now it’s our turn to move towards “it is finished”.
“Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” – Luke 23:46
Despite all of the trials and tribulations that Jesus endured, He trusted in His Father.
He endured it all because He loved us. In these uncertain times, many of us are enduring tremendous anxiety, fear, isolation, and living under a barrage of negative news. In spite of all of this, we need to trust in the Lord that we will get through.
Take it from me! I lived and worked in New York during 9/11. I have faith that we will not only get through this but we will find opportunities to – in some manner – find a way to support those who are less fortunate. As somber as those times were, we did get through it. We found a way to listen to our hearts, maintain our humanity, and have faith. I did. If not for 9/11, I would not have returned home to work in Philly. I would not have been offered the opportunity to get to be a part of the St. Vincent’s community.
“All things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28