The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross

The cross of Jesus is the Tree of Life. It is there for our bliss, not for sorrow. The lightness of a Mozart or a Haydn, that lightness that suddenly rises up from D minor which we may rightly call grace, is not a flight from but the fruit of the cross. It chimes with an anticipation of heaven where we will eternally sing of the mercies of the Lord (Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo). Of course, reading the Bible the way you would read a newspaper is not reading it at all. If it is the Word of God, that is, the word of my Creator, Savior, and Lord, I cannot approach it as if I were attending a show or following the news. It speaks to me, it pierces me like a sword, especially when I reach its ultimate, most wrenching point: the Passion of the Word made flesh. I read it only to the extent that I read it within my soul. I read it only to the extent that I let it test me. As I listen to the Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross, I can spend a pleasant, moving hour, but one which leaves me fundamentally untouched, like a moral add-on to my physical comfort. I'm sitting in an armchair, listening to music, looking at art. But the truth, more mystical and concrete, is that I am at the foot of the cross. The groans of the tortured, the many people today disfigured by suffering and sin, are at my doorstep! I may not recognize it, but as much as I may admire and feel myself a Christian, I am like those passers-by who derided him, wagging their heads (Mk 15:29). In this sense, Kierkegaard got it right. The words of the Lord aren't looking for our admiration or our understanding, but for our confession and our conversion. We are protagonists in this story: He gave himself for our sins (Gal 1:4). We have no choice but to identify ourselves with one of the characters in this scene: either the bad or the good thief (as in Luke). Or the scribes who mock: Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him! Or perhaps one of the men who, with the centurion, confesses: Truly this was the Son of God! (as in Matthew and Mark). Or one of the soldiers gambling for his vestments, his tunic. Or the disciple who welcomed Mary into his home (as in John). 7