Lenten Meditations from the Pastoral Concerns Dept – Day 36 “SEVENTH WORD ON THE CROSS: FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT ”
[The Pastoral Concerns Department of the Church of South India brings out devotions for the 40 Lenten Days in 2019 beginning from the Ash Wednesday. A group of CSI Presbyters from the five states of South India prepared these devotions and published on this official website of the CSI Synod, Official Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/csisynodcommunication/ and the official WhatsApp Broadcast from the number +91 9840577404. You can read/download the English version of the devotion here. The writer of the devotion presents the same in a video on the day. Watch here Rev. C. George Vinod, Presbyter, CSI Karnataka Southern Diocese gives a meditation “SEVENTH WORD ON THE CROSS: FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT”
Lenten Meditations- Day 36 (for 16th April 2019)
“SEVENTH WORD ON THE CROSS: FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT”
Selected Text : Luke 23: 46
Human life is always a grateful event towards God for it is the gift of God. Since both life and death are inevitably rooted in God, life finds its meaning and fulfillment in God himself. Therefore, one should understand that the purpose of life is to fulfill God’s will and to our desires. It is our calling to be more conscious about the meaning and purpose of our life in the light of God’s plans for our life and be committed to live worthy of our calling. Jesus Christ, our Lord had exhibited a radical commitment towards God when he denied himself to take human form and offered himself to bear the cross and shame for our redemption. While all the words of dying persons are full of interest, there is special importance attached to the last of them. This being the Last Word of Jesus on the cross it claims particular attention, and offers a message to emulate.
God is the source of life
The final word of the dying Saviour was a prayer. Not all the words from the cross were prayers. One was addressed to the penitent thief, another to his mother and his favourite disciple, and a third to the soldiers who were crucifying him; but prayer was distinctly the language of his dying hours. It was not by chance that his very last word was a prayer; but it was the expression his radical commitment. In this act of prayer and committal of his spirit, Jesus re-affirmed that God is the source of life; it emanates from him and divulge in him. Every Jewish parent used to teach their children that God is the source as well as the sustainer of life. Teachings of the synagogues too were to prepare every Jewish child to affirm this belief until death (Psalm 31: 5). This teaching had a deep influence on Jesus. Moreover, Jesus had a clear vision of Life and the mission for which he was sent. Hence, amidst all challenges Jesus never compromised with his mission. Unless we have respect and commitment towards life graced by God, we can be tempted to fulfill worldly desires in accordance with the vested interests. Polluted mind can pollute the world we live in and the creation of God thereby destroying the purposes of God.
Death is a symbolic status of contentment of life and its commitment
‘Life is to die’, is a popular statement. Though life is an inevitable journey towards death, it is the most precious gift given by God. Jesus had exemplified through his life that death is only temporal; challenges and hardships are indispensable part of life. He knew that his missiological commitment was stronger than the fear of death (“Father, if you are willing, take away this cup from me. Yet not my will, but yours” Luke 22:42). For Jesus, death was just a status rather than a burden for he viewed death as a reward. The writer of the Hebrews says in Chapter 12, verse 2 that Jesus, for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. When Jesus handed over his spirit into the hands of the Father, one can see his radical commitment and at the same time the contentment for fulfilling the will of the Father. Jesus’s life becomes an inspiration not only to live but also to die by entrusting our lives into the hands of God.
Accepting death is a sign of belief in Resurrection
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" his speaks of his confidence in God, his Father. He found security in his Father’s hands and in so doing pointed the way to all who die believing. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, left this life with the same security. "Lord Jesus" he said, "receive my spirit." This statement of radical commitment has been used by countless believers in Christ ever since. This is the security that comes from knowing "him whom we have believed and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him." Yes, there is eternal security in the Cross. In addition, Christian faith is based on Resurrection that is made known to us in and through Jesus Christ. By the power of Resurrection, Jesus encountered the abuse and conspiracy of his enemies. Even though Jesus had foreseen the horrible experience of his death he knew the purpose of his passion and death.
On the cross, death is completely defeated and a new community of understanding, affirming and living of God’s Purpose is sprouted (Luke 23:47). This is a call to understand the incarnation of God’s life in our living. Very importantly, this consciousness is a persistent call to introspect our commitment to celebrate the fruits of life graced by God with the fellowship of Resurrected Christ. May Our Lord Jesus Christ be our help and succor to understand the purpose of life and death and be committed to live a life worthy of our calling. Amen.
Eternal God, enable us to understand the life that we have in your son, Jesus Christ and help us to learn to fulfill and celebrate your purposes. Anoint us with Your Holy Spirit to accept death as your son did and bless us to participate in the celebration of Resurrection graced in Jesus Christ. Amen
Rev. C. George Vinod
CSI Karnataka Southern Diocese