On the Reason Why Our Lord Cried with a Loud Voice when He Yielded up the Ghost.
To-day, my soul, let your attention be fixed upon our Lord at the moment when He breathes His last. The chalice of His Passion has now been drained to the last dregs, and the moment of dissolution has come. Our Lord wrestles with death; a cold sweat breaks out of every pore, and at this instant, the most momentous, the greatest the world has ever seen, He raises His head and with a loud voice He cries: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” (St. Luke xxiii. 46.) It was a loud cry, a piercing cry, one which rang through the heavens and the earth; let us proceed to consider the cause of the loud cry which the dying Saviour uttered.
1st. It was a cry of pain. By it our Lord desired to make known the acute pain which the act of dying occasioned Him, the immortal God. The time had come for His sacred soul to disunite itself from the body which it had informed for three and thirty years, to which it was bound by the closest bond of affection. If two true and loving friends separate, if their separation is compulsory, it is a great sorrow for both of them. And whenever were two friends so closely united together as were the body and soul of Christ? for they had conjointly, working in perfect concord and charity, accomplished man’s salvation and fulfilled the will of our Father in Heaven in every particular. Never, never had they stood in opposition to one another, in dissension and strife as is the case with sinful mortals. Hence it was that the moment of dissolution was so exceedingly painful for our Lord. Let it be your prayer that our Lord will vouchsafe to make death easy to you, for the sake of the bitter struggle His death cost Him.
2d. This cry is an expression of strength. Our Lord cried with a loud voice to show that He still possessed sufficient force and vigor to prolong His life, and hold death at a distance had He so wished. Dying persons, as we know, do not generally speak in loud accents. Christ died, He made the sacrifice of His own life for our redemption by His own express desire, as He Himself declared: “No man taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself; and I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again.” (St. John x. 18.) Thus it was not under compulsion but of His own free will that He suffered death for love of us. May it be granted to you, my soul, to yield up your life to God freely and joyously, in the same dispositions in which you now consecrate it to the service of God, in order that ultimately you may be able to close it as our Lord did, with the same words on your lips: “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”
3d. This cry that our Lord uttered at the point of death was one of triumph. We read that Gedeon in days of yore by breaking pitchers and blowing trumpets terrified the Madianites to such an extent that he conquered them easily, and in like manner our victorious King, triumphing from the cross, when His sacred body was broken by cruel torture and acute pain, and His voice was lifted up like a trumpet-blast in one last, loud cry, vanquished the devil, burst asunder the brazen portals of Limbo, and inspired all the spirits of hell with terror. That is our Lord’s pæan of victory that now resounds from the cross. If, my soul, you hope and desire in your last moments to raise this same cry of victory over the enemies of your salvation, you will be able to do so on one condition and one only: you must, like Jesus, die on the cross; you must, that is to say, be crucified to your own will, to the world and to the flesh. Would death find you thus prepared if this day it were said to you: “Give charge concerning thy house, for thou shalt die and not live” (IV. Kings xx. 1)?
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
Copyright © 2013. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.