Look back over the retreat
Speak candidly to Jesus, as you would to a close friend
The reflective content of this concluding session has been edited based on the Final Chapter of Fr James Martin’s book, Seven Last Words. Used with permission from HarperOne.
- In reflecting on Jesus’s Last Seven Words we have been invited to come to know him more deeply. They have offered us a privileged access into Jesus’s life and therefore and entrée into who he is. These last words reveal him to us more fully.
- Good Friday was a single day in Jesus’s life. In other words, Jesus’s life was not all suffering and pain. Most of his public ministry was centred on joy. Indeed when Jesus encountered suffering of any kind, his first response, after listening to the person’s problems, was to alleviate the suffering. Imagine what is must have been like to see Jesus bringing an end to suffering, as when he effected one of his miraculous healings. Encountering Jesus meant encountering the joy that characterises the reign of God.
- Still, as we have seen, Jesus suffered. Even before he stepped onto the world stage, during his life in Nazareth Jesus suffered the physical and emotional pains of human life. The disciples didn’t always understand him; he was persecuted frequently by some religious authorities. He wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Thus the sufferings of human life were not unknown to him. On Good Friday he clearly felt abandoned by his friends and by God, experienced physical pain, and suffered disappointment.
- What has all this meant for you?
- How have you encountered Jesus more deeply? Was there a particular moment in this retreat that struck you or surprised you, or brought you closer to God?
- How has reflecting on Jesus’s suffering changed you?
- How does it help you?
- There are few things as isolating as suffering, for suffering is largely incommunicable. The physical problems you deal with are by their very nature private, since no one else can climb into your body and experience your pain. Overall the struggles you face about almost any part of your life are so private, so personal, so unique, that even when you do explain them, you may feel that you’ve given someone the wrong impression. But there is one person who understands you fully: the Risen Christ.
- The Risen Christ - alive and present to us in the Holy Spirit - is with you in your suffering. He is with you in his divinity - that is, he knows all things and therefore understands you fully.
- He is with you in his humanity - he experienced all of these things. If you’ve ever felt alone in your struggles, you no longer have to. You can know that Jesus understands you in every way. Take a moment to become aware of this now.
- When you pray to Jesus, you are praying to someone who understands you. This may help to feel less alone. Knowing that Jesus understands you may help you to speak to Jesus more openly in prayer too. You can let your guard down. Open up. Be honest with him in prayer. Jesus wants to hear about your struggles, and he understands them. You can even have a go now! In these final moments, speak candidly to him, as you would to a close friend. This is relationship with Jesus, which is what he thirsts for.