When I was newly returned to the Catholic church, I bought a book on the seven last words of Christ during Lent. I’m not sure what book it was, the title now long forgotten, but I read it and struggled with it, finally bringing to to my priest, who was also my spiritual director. The look on his face when it handed to him was quite clear, something was wrong. As it happened, it was a reprint of a much older book, and the essence of the volume in my hands was harsh. Let’s face it, the Crucifixion is harsh, but the book offered a theology that was focused on nothing but suffering. The priest then gave me a much better book on the topic and my reading continued.
Needless to say, I cautiously approached all other books with the words “last words of Jesus” on the cover, rarely finding one that fully fed me. When I saw that Dan Horan OFM, had written a book about Jesus’ last words, I was instantly curious. The Last Words of Jesus, A Meditation on Love and Suffering from Franciscan Media, is an updated look offering us a fresh way of seeing the Cross.
In conversation with someone recently, I said precisely that, that this book is “updated” and “offers us a chance to see the Cross in a fresh way.” Those comments were met with a rebuttal about how there is no new way to see the crucifixion. While this book never deviates from a topic that is eminently clear, it is written in a most powerful way, one that I found refreshing as part of my own personal prayer and study. Unlike the book I read many years ago, focused purely on suffering, this book focuses on the depth and breadth of God’s love and mercy.
As an author Horan is skilled; his words are well crafted and wise. That he is a scholar is evident. With a clear sense of mercy, he offers us insights about the love given to us by Christ as he faced death that will satisfy both the mind and the heart.
Each chapter is focused on one of the the seven last “words,” or groups of words. For example, the third chapter is focused on “Woman, behold your son,” from John 19:26. What follows is not just a set of observations or a reflection on these words alone, but a much more far reaching and powerful place for us to bring our hearts in prayer. Whether we are considering the invitation to discipleship or thinking about the role of Mary, there is a richness and fullness to what is written in this book.
Horan takes us through Scriptural interpretation in each chapter, as well as offering us ideas around which we can frame our hearts in conversation and reflection with God through the use of reflection questions and a prayer in each chapter.
This book is a gem for anyone seeking something powerful for Holy Week or Lent, yet it can be used at any time of year. I can also imagine the book being put to good use in small faith sharing groups and other prayerful gatherings.
Readable, accessible, challenging, and comforting at once, The Last Words of Jesus by Dan Horan, is something is a fine
Would you like to win a copy of this book? leaving a comment before 11:59pm on Friday, April 11th, 2014 will be eligible to win. Want to learn more about the book? On Wednesday, April 16th, Franciscan Media will stream a live event with author Dan Horan, OFM. The time isn’t posted, but keep checking this link for updates.