We have reached the literal last word of Jesus, which leaves his Body with his final breath: “Father, into your hands, I commend my Spirit.” He cries it out in a loud voice, in a voice that all can hear; in a voice that leads us to contemplation. Our Lord has left us with a crying voice, but not with sadness. Jesus’ cry is a cry of triumph, as the plans of God are perfectly carried to completion. His last breath has left him, but his Spirit goes to God the Father. Jesus’ final words are a new beginning for the whole human race to realize. Jesus, the Son of God, calls out to his Father so that we, united with Jesus, also affirm our newborn condition as children of God. Now God is truly Our Father as Jesus promised, as he taught us, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come…” (Lk 11:2), and now Jesus brings this prayer to fulfillment.
Yes, this fulfillment is a new beginning for each of us. Jesus’ death lets us discover who we really are: children of God, called to be sons and daughters in the Son. As St. Paul tells us: “…if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). And as the Catechism affirms: “By his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by His Resurrection, He opens for us the way to a new life. [Justification] brings about filial adoption…” (CCC 654). Every moment of every day needs to be marked with the awareness of what the saints have called our divine filiation. As St. Josemaria advises: “Child, when you really are one, you will be all-powerful” (Way 863).
Yet, to live our lives as a child of God is not trouble-free. Jesus’ last breath reminds us of that: like Jesus we encounter suffering if we are faithful to our vocation and mission. We must live out practical consequences that really reflect our dignity as God’s children. These practical consequences include: a sincere piety and commitment to prayer; a love for the Church, and in particular a participation in the Church’s liturgy and acceptance of all her teachings; a constant spirit of service to God as Our Father and to all persons as brothers and sisters; and finally, a firm and humble desire for conversion, to turn toward God and away from sin. But with to God’s grace we can lovingly carry out our Christian duties as children. And so, today is a perfect day for us to tell God Our Father: “into your hands I commend my spirit; to you, Father, I dedicate my life!”
(From a homily given on Good Friday, at St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh, PA. Painting detail: Crucifixion, by Eric Armusik. It is found at parish of St. Sebastian, Akron, OH).