Famous Last Words


“Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!”  And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”(John 19:26c-27) An article in the March/April edition of Biblical Archaeology Review, Dr. Ben Witherington of St. Andrews University in Scotland commented on the last words of Jesus on the cross. “Truly, I say to you-today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:42-43)  “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

That article made me think about my recent trip to Southern California visiting my wife’s family. My mother-in-law is about to turn 80 and living in a nursing home. It was  fun to say hello to her and give her hugs and buy her things; but then it was time to leave. My wife held her the longest time, my step daughter hugged her as well. It seemed that the good-byes would go on forever. None of us seemed to have the “closing word” or rather the “last word.”

Dr. Witherington wrote that on the cross it was legal to make a last will and testament. He points out that the brothers and sisters  of Jesus were not involved whatsoever in the caring of Mary. Jesus directed what was to be done “and from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” The affairs of my mother-in-law are taken care of (as far as I know). The manager of her facility is a good man and I believe there is an atmosphere of trust between us that ‘mom’ is being taken care of very well.

As I had 900 miles to think about things, I realized the ‘last words’ I did not use were the simplest; we did not pray. Not one prayer to the Lord in thanksgiving. We said what now seems frivolous words; “see ya soon”, “take care”, “eat your vegetables.”

I missed it! The most perfect opportunity to pray and I missed it! All I can now hope and pray for is another chance with her to have the best “last words”; prayer.

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