The reflective content of this session has been edited based on Chapter 7 of Fr James Martin’s book, Seven Last Words. Used with permission from HarperOne.
- Settle into a comfortable position for prayer, become aware of the presence of God. Imagine God gazing at you in love. You might want to imagine looking into Jesus’s eyes, or simply imagine sitting next to him as you would a friend. Just rest in that place now…
At every step of the way Jesus is trying to carry out the Father’s will
- Did Jesus know what would happen on Easter Sunday? As we close our meditations in this final session, I would like to invite you to return to that important question. As a fully divine person, Jesus would have known all things, with the consciousness of God the Father.
- All along, though, there was one thing Jesus knew for sure: his governing desire was to do his Father’s will. Here is another intersection between Jesus’s life and ours.
- At every step of the way, even if he may not have fully understood his vocation, Jesus is trying to carry out the Father’s will. And in the garden of Gethsemane he reaches the ultimate decision point. Gethsemane is one of the clearest windows into his humanity, for Jesus doesn’t immediately say, “Oh, yes, God, whatever you want.” No, first he says, “Remove this cup from me.” Only then does he say, “Yet, not what I want, but what you want.” This is an utterly human response to impending suffering. Hold this in your mind as you hear today’s passage from the Gospel of Luke…
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Jesus knows that the more we give ourselves to the Father, the more new life can come from whatever we give
- During his time on earth, Jesus took his body throughout the land then called Palestine, walking from town to town, giving himself to people, listening to them, healing them, feeding them, doing whatever the Father asked of him. He gave of himself in his public ministry. And on the cross he gives himself over completely: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” It is the greatest sacrifice the world has ever seen: body and soul he gives himself. Jesus gives himself entirely. This is what we’re all called to do: give ourselves totally to God.
- Here is another intersection with our lives, another place where Jesus understands us. Jesus understands that when we give ourselves to the Father, we may not know what kind of new life will come from our offering. And he knows that the more we give ourselves to the Father, the more new life can come from whatever we give.
- There’s often a part of our lives that we keep from God: a grudge, a sinful habit, a pattern of selfish behaviour, a desire for status and power, a need to acquire more possessions. In general, we lead good lives, but we usually withhold a part of ourselves from God. We say, “You can have everything else, God, but not this.” But we are asked to turn it all over to God.
Talk to God
The more we give of ourselves, the more we know who we are
- Giving ourselves entirely to God means surrendering to the future God has in store for us. We may not know what it is. We may not understand it. We may even fear it. But we are called to surrender ourselves to that future. As Jesus did. How do you regularly give yourself over to God? Perhaps this is something you have not done before but would like to…Wherever you are with this surrender, sit with the Lord and talk to him about it.
- The more we give of ourselves, the more we know who we are. The more we give of ourselves, the fuller lives we will lead. And so, as we close this retreat, you might want to pray these words to the Lord: “Into your hands, O God, I commend my spirit.”