MY HEART HAS BECOME like wax melting away within my bosom. My throat is dried up like baked clay, my tongue cleaves to my jaws; to the dust of death you have brought me down” (Psalm 22). Only this prophecy of the psalmist remained to be fulfilled, and now Jesus, parched with fever, cried:
One of the soldiers was touched by this pitiful cry. Taking a sponge, he soaked it in his wine and having attached it to a reed, a stalk of hyssop, held it up to the lips of Jesus. Thus, His last consolation was received from a stranger, a Gentile.
After moistening His lips with the wine, Jesus said:
“It is consummated!”
The work He had undertaken was completed. Now He cried in a loud voice:
“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” His head dropped, He was dead.
In the instant of His death all nature was convulsed. The curtain before the sanctuary of the temple was rent from top to bottom. Great quakes split open the earth, exposing the bodies of dead saints. And some of those cast from their graves by this terrible cataclysm arose after His resurrection and were seen by many in Jerusalem.
The terror created by these prodigies was heightened by the darkness which had continued since midday and was only now slowly lifting. When the centurion and his soldiers considered the way in which Jesus had died, and when they saw the strange portents which followed, they said, “Truly He was the Son of God.” And the centurion fell to his knees and glorified God.
The others who had witnessed His Passion were likewise shaken by the strange events that accompanied His death. The people from Jerusalem, including, no doubt, many of those who had joined the priests in deriding Him, now returned to the city lamenting and beating their breasts. But the mother of Jesus, the holy women who had followed Him from Galilee, and His friends and disciples remained at Golgotha, looking on from some distance away.
Meditation: The rending of the temple veil symbolized the completion of the Old Testament. At Christ’s death His Church was born and the era of worship in the temple ended. The Church He had founded was the new Israel, the new chosen race, the Kingdom of God on earth. All nationalism was gone; membership in the new Israel was for men of all races and nations without distinction. Racism or nationalism in religion is a denial that Christ died for all men.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 283-284. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.