Seven Last Words

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The Seven Last Words (Spanish: Siete Palabras) is a Filipino Catholic tradition in which devotees commemorate the words spoken by Jesus before he died on the cross. It is observed every Good Friday, starting from noon to three in the afternoon.


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The Seven Last Words

The phrases were originally spoken by Christ in Aramaic but only one of the seven remained in its orginal form, the “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani” or “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” which is also the opening verse of Psalm 22.


Here are the traditional order of the seven words:


1. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

“And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots."” (Luke 23:32-34)

This is the word of forgiveness. It is believed to be Jesus' statement of forgiving the people who crucified him.


2. "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."

“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)

The word of salvation. Jesus promised the malefactor, Dismas, in the middle of their suffering, that he would be with him in paradise because he believed in him.


3. “Woman, behold thy son” . . . “Behold thy mother!”

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:25-27).

The word of relationship. Jesus entrusts his mother Mary to one of his disciples as an example of each man's acceptance to every other person.


4. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"” (Matthew 27:45-46)

The word of abandonment. It is the only expression that appeared in more than one Gospel. In the verses of the two Gospels immediately following the words, the spectators who hear Jesus’ plea understand him to be calling for help from Elijah.


5. "I thirst!"

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. (John 19:28)

This is the word of suffering. This shows how Jesus suffered like any ordinary human being. He was able to feel pain, hunger and even thirst. But he was even more thirsty from mankind's understanding and love. He was forsaken by many during his trial and suffering on the cross.


6. “It is fnished!”

“Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:29-30)

The word of triumph. It is theologically interpreted as the declaration of the end of Jesus’ life on earth and the fulfillment of what the prophets had written.


7. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"

“And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:44-46)

The word of reunion. These words are interpreted as the announcement of Christ joining His Father in Heaven.

Tradition

After the procession of The Way of the Cross, the cross is brought to the alter where the image of the crucified Christ is erected. The friar would reflect on each last word or sometimes, a guest is invited to speak about his own reflection. Each word is followed by a prayer and a song.

At exactly three in the afternoon, the image of Jesus is brought down from the cross—the nails, crown of thorns and wooden plate that says “King of the Jews”—are all removed. Afterwards, the devotees may come near the alter for the Pahalik sa Krus.

At six o'clock in the evening, a solemn Funeral Procession is held. Different images of different saints present in the Way of the Cross are paraded with the hearse where Jesus is laid is placed last. No mass is held until night of Black Saturday in which the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated.



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