The Seven Last Words, VII

The Seventh and Last Word:

THE SEVENTH WORD

“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”

He has cried with a loud voice, and the rocks have rent to its echo, and the earth is shaken, and the Veil of the Old Testament is torn from top to bottom as the Old Covenant passes into the New and the enclosed sanctity of the Most Holy Place breaks out into the world. And now, as the level sun shines out again beneath the pall of clouds, He whispers, as at Mary’s knee in Nazareth, the old childish prayer and yields up His spirit into His Father’s hands.

The last Paradox, then, is uttered. He Who saves others cannot save Himself! The Shepherd of souls relinquishes His own. For, as we cannot save our lives unless we lose them for His sake, so He too cannot save them unless He loses His for our sake.

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The Seven Last Words, Part VI

Continuing the Lenten Sermon of Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson, Part VI

THE SIXTH WORD

“It is consummated.”

He has finished His “Father’s business,” He has dealt with sinners and saints, and has finally disclosed to us the secrets of the Soul and the Body of His that are the hope of both sinners and saints alike. And there is no more for Him to do.

An entirely new Beginning, then, is at hand, now that the Last Sabbath is come — the Last Sabbath, so much greater than the First as Redemption is greater than Creation. For Creation is a mere introduction to the Book of Life; it is the arrangement of materials that are to be thrown instantly into confusion again by man, who should be its crown and master. The Old Testament is one medley of mistakes and fragments and broken promises and violated treaties, to reach its climax in the capital Mistake of Calvary, when men indeed “knew not what they did.” And even God Himself in the New Testament, as man in the Old, has gone down in the catastrophe and hangs here mutilated and broken. Real life, then, is now to begin.

Yet, strangely enough, He calls it an End rather than a Beginning. “Consummatum est!”

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The Seven Last Words, IV and V

Continuing Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s Lenten sermon, “The Seven Last Words”, Parts IV & V

THE FOURTH WORD

“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Our Blessed Lord in the revelation He makes from the Cross passes gradually inwards to Himself Who is its centre. He begins in the outermost circle of all, with the ignorant sinners. He next deals with the one sinner who ceased to be ignorant, and next with those who were always nearest to Himself, and now at last He reveals the deepest secret of all. This is the central Word of the Seven in every sense. There is no need to draw attention to the Paradox it expresses.

I. First, then, let us remind ourselves of the revealed dogma that Jesus Christ was the Eternal Son of the Father; that He dwelt always in the Bosom of that Father; that when He left heaven, He did not leave the Father’s side; that at Bethlehem and Nazareth and Galilee and Jerusalem and Gethsemane and Calvary He was always the Word that was with God and the Word that was God. Next, that the eyes even of His Sacred Humanity looked always and continuously upon the Face of God, since His union with God was entire and complete: as He looked up into His Mother’s face from the manger, He saw behind it the Face of His Father; as He cried in Gethsemane, “If it be possible”, even in His Sacred Humanity He knew that it could not be; as He groaned out on Calvary that God had forsaken Him, He yet looked without one instant’s intermission into the glory of heaven and saw His Father there.

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The Seven Last Words, III

Continuing from Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s Lenten Sermon on the Seven Last Words of Christ Our Lord, Part III, from “Paradoxes of Catholicism”.

THE THIRD WORD

“Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother”

Our Divine Lord now turns, from the soul who at one bound has sprung into the front rank, to those two souls who have never left it, and supremely to that Mother on whose soul sin has never yet breathed, on whose breast Incarnate God had rested as inviolate and secure as on the Bosom of the Eternal Father, that Mother who was His Heaven on earth. Standing beside her is the one human being who is least unworthy to be there, now that Joseph has passed to his reward and John the Baptist has gone to join the Prophets — “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, who had lain on the breast of Jesus as Jesus had lain on the breast of Mary.

Our Lord has just shown how He deals with His dear sinners; now He shows how He will “be glorified with His Saints”. The Paradox of this Word is that Death, the divider of those who are separated from God, is the bond of union between those that are united to Him.

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