FRIEDRICH OVERBECK (1789-1869)
WATER-COLOUR ON BOARD - Vatican Museum
Jesus dies on the cross
V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
From the Gospel according to Luke 23:44-46
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness
over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed;
and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
And having said this he breathed his last.
After the agony in Gethsemane,
Jesus, on the cross, is once again face to face with his Father.
At the height of indescribable sufferings,
Jesus turns to him and prays to him.
His prayer is above all an invocation of mercy for his torturers.
Then an application to himself of the prophetic words of the psalm:
the sign of a feeling of lacerating abandonment,
which reaches at its crucial moment an experience in his whole being of what kind of despair sin leads to in its separation from God.
Jesus has drunk to the dregs the cup of bitterness.
But from that abyss of suffering, comes a cry that breaks the desolation:
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Lk 23:46).
And the feeling of abandonment becomes entrustment into the arms of the Father;
the last breath of the dying man has become a cry of victory,
Mankind, which had strayed far away in the vertigo of self-sufficiency,
is once again received by the Father.
Jesus, our brother,
by your death you have reopened for us the way blocked by the sin of Adam.
You have gone before us on the road that leads from death to life (Heb 6:20).
You have taken upon yourself the fear and the torments of death,
changing radically their meaning:
you have turned around the despair that they provoke,
changing death into an encounter of love.
Comfort those who today are setting out on your same road.
Reassure those who strive to divert their minds from the thought of death.
And when for us that dramatic and blessed hour should come,
receive us into your eternal joy,
non because of our merits,
but in virtue of the marvellous things your grace works in us.
exhaling your last breath you entrust your life into the hands of the Father
and you pour out on the Spouse the vivifying gift of the Spirit.
R/. To you praise and glory for ever.