There are entire books and web paged devoted to “famous last words”. Having lost my family, I can tell you that I carry their last words close to my heart always. The last thing my father ever said was to me and it was, “I love you too, Pumpkin.” My mother’s last words as she leaned on my chest and I cradled her in my arms were, “You are wonderful.” My husband told me he was going “just around the corner.” They were all sentiments delivered with love by people who knew their time on this earth was coming to an end. They were important enough to them that at a time when energy and effort are a fading currency they chose to spend it in that way.
Take a moment to think about yourself in situations other than death too. What is it you say before being wheeled back for a surgery (even if it is minor)? What do you say to those who see you off before you board a plane or go for a long trip? Now that you have thought about that, let us consider the last words spoken by Jesus on the cross.
“Forgive them father for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
At this point, Jesus’ human body could not have been more broken. He had been scourged (John 19:1). Which, in Roman times, scourging meant 39 lashings with a lead tipped whip. He had been mocked and a crown of thorns placed on his head. He had been on the cross by this point for hours, and each time he spoke or breathed he had to push himself up with his feet (which need I remind you had a nail through them?) to do so, because part of the crucifixion process is a suffocation. The weight of the body, placement of the arms, made breathing very difficult and as the body weakened would cause organ failure. This was the condition of Jesus as he spoke those words.
He spoke them to the people who had cheered to have him crucified, yes. More than that though, I believe, he was crying out to the Father for all humanity throughout all time-past and future. Because, you see, it wasn’t just the Jews and the Romans of the time who caused his death. It was all of us, from before then to after now. We all put him there. Not one of us is innocent, and not one of us knows what we are doing, even today having a ‘more complete’ picture of it thanks to those who documented the scripture then.
Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault-by what I have done and what I have failed to do.
He asked that the Father forgive us, but have we asked for forgiveness? Have we really realized that we are the reason he hung on the cross? Have we embraced that absolute love that those words proclaim?
The choice is ours. Food for thought and prayer…
Here I am, Lord, send me!
Lisa Lee Brandel, Kolbe Evangelization Commission.