Lent Day 38 - LIFE OF CHRIST, by Fulton Sheen
LENT DAY 38 – Maundy Thursday, April 13
“Our Lord spoke seven times from the Cross; these are called His Seven Last Words. In the Scriptures the dying words of only three others were recorded: Israel, Moses, and Stephen. The reason perhaps is that no others are found so significant and representative as these three. Israel was the first of the Israelites; Moses, the first of the legal dispensation; Stephen, the first Christian martyr. The dying words of each began something sublime in the history of God’s dealings with men.
In His goodness, Our Blessed Lord left His thoughts on dying, for He – more than Israel, more than Moses, more than Stephen – was representative of all humanity. In this sublime hour He called all His children to the pulpit of the Cross, and every word He said to them was set down for the purpose of an eternal publication and an undying consolation. There was never a preacher like the dying Christ; there was never a congregation like that which gathered about the pulpit of the Cross; there was never a sermon like the Seven Last Words.
The Seventh Word:
His sixth word was earthward; the seventh was Godward. The sixth was the farewell to time, the seventh, the beginning of His glory.
“Father, into Thy Hands I commend My spirit.”
These words were not spoken in an exhausted whisper, as men do as they breathe their last. He had already said that no one would take away His life from Him, but that He would lay it down of Himself. Death did not lay its hand on His shoulder and give Him a summons to depart; He went out to meet death. In order to show that He would not die from exhaustion, but by an act of will, His last words were spoken: “Crying with a loud voice.” (Matthew 27:50)
It the only instance in history of a Dying One Who was a Living One. His words of departure were a quotation from the Psalms of David: “Into thy hands I commend My Spirit; Thou, God ever faithful, wilt claim Me for Thyself. Let fools provoke Thee by the worship of false gods, for Me, no refuge but the Lord. I will triumph and exult in Thy mercy; it was Thou didst pity my weakness, and save Me when I was hard bestead.” (Psalm 30:5-7) He was not taking refuge in God because He must die; rather His dying was a service to man and the fulfillment of the will of the Father. It is difficult for man, who thinks of dying as the most terrible crisis in his life, to understand the joy that inspired these words of the dying Christ… The Word Incarnate, having completed His earthly mission, now returned again to the Heavenly Father Who sent Him on the work of Redemption.
On this day the Lamb of God was slain and all the prophecies were fulfilled. The work of Redemption was finished. There was a rupture of a heart in a rapture of love; the Son of Man bowed His head and willed to die.”
(Chapter 49, pgs. 815 – 818)
- Conrad Grebel: The Radical Reformer (c.1498-1526)
- Heinrich Bullinger: The Majestic Beard of Zurich (1504-1575)
- Hellen Stirke: The Ordinary Virgin Mary (died 1543)
- Hans Gooseflesh: The Accidental Reformer (c.1400-1468)
- Ulrich Zwingli: The Swiss Giant (1484-1531)
- Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley: The British Candle (martyred in 1555)
- Guillaume Farel: The French Firebrand (1489-1565)
- Thomas Cranmer: The Gospel Lobbyist (1489-1556)
- Johannes Oecolampadius: The Monasterys Lost Houselamp (1482-1531)
- Marie Dentiere: The First Lady in France (c.1495-1561)
- Martin Bucer: The Protestant Melting Pot (1491-1551)
- William Tyndale: The Underground Translator (c.1494-1536)
- Thomas Becon: The Monday Morning Protestant (c.1512-1567)
- Peter Martyr Vermigli: The Phoenix of Florence (1499-1562)
- Menno Simons: The Fearless Pacifist (1496-1561)
- Wolfgang Capito: The Protestant Peacemaker (c.1478-1541)
- Wibrandis Rosenblatt: The Bride of the Reformation (1504-1564)
- Philip Melanchthon: The Gentle Lutheran (1497-1560)
- Girolamo Savonarola: The Florentine Forerunner (1452-1498)
- Jan Hus: The Goosefather (1369-1415)