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General Audience: Pope reflects on last words of Jesus on the Cross

2012-02-15

FULL TEXT OF CATECHESIS:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our continuing catechesis on Christian prayer, we turn once more to the prayer of Jesus on the Cross.  Saint Luke relates three “last words” of the crucified Lord.  In his prayer: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34), Jesus intercedes for his executioners and shows the depths of his reconciling love for sinful humanity.  In his words to the Good Thief: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43), he offers sure hope to all those who repent and put their trust in him.  His final cry: “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46), expresses Jesus’ trust-filled surrender to God’s will, born of that unique relationship to the Father which had shaped his own life of prayer.  From the Cross, Jesus teaches us to forgive and love our enemies, to pray for their conversion, and to commend ourselves into the Father’s hands, trusting that they will continue to sustain us amid the sufferings of this life until they embrace us in heaven.

I welcome the priests taking part in the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College.  My greeting also goes to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Toronto, as well as to the many diocesan, parish and school groups present at today’s Audience, especially the students of Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell, Scotland.  Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, including those from England, Ireland, Norway and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s blessings!