The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 26

The Evangelists have preserved Seven Words, as they are called—seven short sentences spoken by The Words our Divine Lord during the great Three Hours when He hung dying upon the Cross. Seven times His Voice broke the silence during His Dread Agony. Before He spoke of the Thirst of His Soul and Body, and of the mysterious dereliction of His Spirit, before He declared that He Had fulfilled the work that His Father had given Him to do, and gave up the Ghost into His Father's Hands, He was mindful of the needs of men. The first three Words of Christ spoken from the Cross agree in this, that in each case they have an immediate application, and that in each case they are intended to reach the hearts of men as long as the world shall last.

"Father forgive them, they know not what they do " —this prayer was offered first for those who did our Blessed Lord to death and were directly responsible for the Crucifixion. But to the end of time all sinful men and women may find supreme consolation, when they remember that the dying Saviour pleaded for them from His Cross of pain—nay more, that He deigned to make excuse on their behalf. The Jews knew not what they did. The full extent of their malice was not before their minds when they clamoured for God's Blood, and spat in His Face, and crowned Him with the mock Crown of Royalty, and drove the nails into His Hands, and tore His bleeding Feet, and fastened Him to His hard deathbed. Not only those who actually joined in His Passion—but we too, poor sinners, who, though we were not physically present on Mount Calvary, have crucified our Lord anew by wilful sin, may remember, to our souls comfort, that we also were included in that merciful prayer of Christ: " Father forgive them, they know not what they do," and may take heart to pray to God for Mercy through Jesus Christ

His Son our Lord. " We have a High Priest who hath compassion on our infirmities, who, in the days of His Flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offering up prayers and supplications, is entered into Heaven itself, that He may appear now in that Presence of God for us." (Heb. iv. 15 ; v. 7 ; ix. 24.) The Heart of Christ still pleads with God on behalf of sinful men. " They cannot perish," writes St. Bernard, " for whom the Son entreats that they perish not--on whose behalf the Father has given His Son to death that they may live."

"This day shall thou be with me in Paradise." This Word was spoken immediately to the Good Thief who, after a life of crime, acknowledged and confessed his misdeeds : " These things we suffer justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds"; and cried to Jesus: " Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom." But in every age all have a share in the wondrous promise made to the Good Thief, who, like the Thief, seek pardon, where pardon can never be sought in vain, from the Heart of the world's Redeemer. He will remember us too when He cometh into His Kingdom, and will give us a place in the Paradise of God.

"Behold thy mother" These words were spoken immediately to the Disciple whom Jesus loved—to that disciple who, listening, tells us himself that from that hour he took Mary to his heart and home.