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Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus

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Based on his talks at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Good Friday 2015, the New York Times bestselling author and editor at large of America magazine offers a portrait of Jesus, using his last words on the cross to reveal how deeply he understood our predicaments, what it means to be fully human, and why we can turn to Christ completely, in mind, heart, and soul.

Each meditation is dedicated to one of the seven sayings:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

“Woman, this is your son” . . . “This is your mother.”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

“I thirst.”

“It is finished.”

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

With the warmth, wisdom, and grace that infuse his works, Father James Martin explains why Jesus’s crucifixion and death on the cross is an important teaching moment in the Gospels. Jesus’s final statements, words that are deeply cherished by his followers, exemplify the depth of his suffering but also provide a key to his empathy and why we can connect with him so deeply.

144 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2016

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About the author

James Martin

56 books841 followers
James Martin, SJ is a Jesuit priest, writer, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, and consultor to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication.

Fr. Martin grew up in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States, and attended Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1982 and worked in corporate finance at General Electric for six years. Dissatisfied with the corporate world, he entered the Society of Jesus (more commonly known as the Jesuits) in 1988, and after completing his Jesuit training (which included studies in philosophy and theology, as well as full time-ministry) was ordained a priest in 1999. He received his Master's in Divinity (M.Div.) and Master's in Theology (Th.M.) from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology (now part of Boston College).

During his Jesuit training, Martin worked in a hospital for the seriously ill and a homeless shelter in Boston, with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Jamaica, with street-gang members in Chicago, in a prison in Boston, and for two years with East African refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, with the Jesuit Refugee Service. In addition to his work at America magazine, Fr. Martin has written or edited more than 15 books, most of which are about spirituality and religion. He is a frequent commentator on religion and spirituality and has appeared on all the major networks, served as an expert commentator for ABC for the papal conclave that elected Pope Francis, and has written for many outlets, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Father Martin's best known books The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything (2010) and Jesus: A Pilgrimage were both New York Times bestsellers; My Life with the Saints was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book; and all three were winners of the Christopher Award.

He has received over 15 honorary degrees from Catholic colleges and universities, and in 2017 Pope Francis appointed him as consultor to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 144 reviews
Profile Image for 7jane.
671 reviews251 followers
March 12, 2018
I've read at least one book on Jesus' seven last words before (the Fulton J. Sheen one, which also included sentences from Mary). It's a book of meditation on the last 7 sayings of Jesus from the cross and what they show of what he felt for us, and why they are helpful for in turning to him in our troubles. The tradition of mediating and preaching on the sentences has been going on since the 16th century. The book is based on the author's homilies at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral on Good Friday 2015.

The sentences are:
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
"Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (said to the good thief)
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (quoting a psalm starting with this)
"Woman, here is your son... Here is your mother." (said to Mary, and John the Apostle)
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
"I am thirsty." (No wonder: I don't think he had got much to drink since the Last Supper)
"It is finished."
- three from Luke, three from John, one that is shared by Mark and Matthew. One has to remember that each gospel's had some personal source, as well as common ones, when their books were put together - so the sentences being sometimes only in one can be explained.

I found some new ideas from this author, on the sentences. Like: Jesus might have wondered if the disciples would have it in them to continue on the mission He had given them - this might be because his humanity wouldn't give Him a full sight into this, before death. The author also believes that because of human side of Jesus, His realisation of his divinity and purpose only gradually came to Him (I think it might've made it easier on Him, in waiting to start his preaching career, and made Him sympathise with the humanity better, both before and after His death.). I might not agree with this completely, but it's not an impossible idea.

I think this book would work well with a 'week's daily read' use, and it's kind of a companion to his other book, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage", which I plan to read soonish. The book certainly gives one something to think about, maybe search for some paintings of His Passion, which I like. A good little read, this one.
Profile Image for Juliette.
339 reviews
April 19, 2017
This was like meeting somebody wonderful, and we’re three dates in, and he’s great. He’s funny. He’s kind. He’s so smart. He’s got those eyes, oh. And that smile, ooh. And he’s so smart. And sometime in the middle of comparing nerd theories on who was really a Cylon (because we all know the Final Five was a lie), I glance down, and he’s not wearing socks with his loafers. Does he not like socks? Socks are hugs for your feet. Does he not like hugs? Also — his feet will stink. Is that enough to stop liking this wonderful guy? Of course not. But seriously, how could he?

I love Fr Martin, but I’m not smitten anymore. All of his books are well-written, and every word seems carefully chosen. He’s funny and kind. Even his Facebook posts are thought-provoking, and he encourages everyone to be kind to one another. (Have you seen Facebook lately?) He’s engaging. I love him, and I love most of his writing.
I didn’t love this. This was supposed to be my Lenten reflection. I planned on reading one chapter every week, and being so blown away by his insight that I would need the rest of the week to contemplate it. That didn’t happen.
I thought that Fr Martin’s analyses were vapid. They were the trite lines that Christians say about Jesus: “[W]hen you struggle in the spiritual life, when you wonder where God is, when you pray in dark and darkness, you are praying to someone who is fully human and fully divine, to someone who understands you fully.” (69) I don’t deny that, but Fr Martin can produce something better.
Maybe I would have felt warmer to his reflection if I were sitting in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Good Friday. Maybe I would have been moved to tears. That didn’t happen. I didn’t feel much emotion. I expected more from Fr Martin.
Overall, though, this book was Mr. Wonderful not wearing socks. It’s weird. It’s kind of lazy. I wish it didn’t happen. But Fr Martin is still wonderful and thought-provoking, and I’ll always love him. (In a completely not creepy way.)
Profile Image for Erin Davis.
137 reviews
April 14, 2020
My original intention with this book was to read reflection each week of Lent as a way to set up a devotional schedule. This did not go according to plan with other books, COVID, and forgetfulness getting in the way. I ended up reading 3/4 of this book on Good Friday and it was a beautiful way to intentionally meditate on the day. Part of why I love Fr. Martin is his ability to write complicated theology simply while not leaving out any of the important doctrine. Instead, he delves into the nitty gritty and walks with the reader through each of Jesus' seven last words. Fr. Martin's writing style and Jesuit training present a book that has Jesus' mission in mind, to meet each person where they are. In each chapter, he presents several different scenarios and perspectives as a way to get the reader into the headspace of Good Friday. I have struggled with much of my life to see how Jesus could understand or care about me since I wasn't "super religious" in the sense that I haven't read the whole Bible or live and breathe Catholic media. Fr. Martin's writings (along with others) have shown me that this is not what makes someone important in God's eyes but that all are important and valid simply because they exist.
This book was a quick read and could have been easily read in one day. I intend to use it as a Lenten/Good Friday devotion in years to come!
Profile Image for Laura Kisthardt.
434 reviews7 followers
April 15, 2022
Father James Martin is a wonderful storyteller. This slim volume is based on a service he preached on the seven last words (sayings) of Jesus. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who wants to think faithfully about Good Friday and the death of Jesus on a cross. This book would also be good inspiration for a preacher.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
217 reviews3 followers
March 28, 2017
One of my goals this year is to read more religious / faith based books (not a hard task given that "more" here essentially amounts to "any"), and I thought this would be a good one to start with knowing some about Father Martin. I was not disappointed.
Profile Image for Rachel.
126 reviews9 followers
August 23, 2020
This book is plagued with errors and misconceptions.

1. Right off the bat Fr. Martin attests to Marcan Priority and the “Q Theory” which was an automatic red flag to me as I read the introduction. That teaching is completely absurd, with many holes and little evidence to back it up. Consequently, he dates the origins of the Gospels completely backwards and sets up an interpretation of the Seven Last Words of Christ on a false foundation.

2. A couple pages later ... Discussing the LITURGIES of the Seven Last Words on Good Friday, Fr. Martin writes, “Most churches choose seven different speakers, each of whom reflects on one of the sayings. In the Jesuit church in New York where I often celebrate Mass, the pastor usually invites Episcopal priests (both men and women), Baptist pastors, Lutheran clergy, members of Catholic religious orders, and laypeople from various walks of life for a wide variety of perspectives on Good Friday.” ... Here is why that is a problem. First of all, that “Q Theory” I mentioned above? Yeah, that’s a Protestant idea. We need to be careful when listening to Protestants preach because they have a lot of whacky ideas (which usually originate from German Lutherans in the 17th and 18th centuries) - like the “Q Theory.” The second problem is that Fr. Martin is saying that non-Catholic ministers (who are improperly ordained)are preaching on words from the Gospel in the context of the Liturgy on Good Friday. If you see a female Episcopalian minister walk up to the ambo on Good Friday and start preaching on the last words of Jesus from the Gospels, you should be wholly alarmed and shocked. Only Catholic deacons, priests, and bishops are to preach on the Gospels in a Catholic church.

3. Fr. Martin attempts to make strange guesses about Jesus’ interior thoughts and emotions. He explains that the Good Thief calls Jesus by his first name rather than “Teacher” or “Rabbi,” which is what other men typically call him. Then Fr. Martin writes, “Maybe [Jesus] hadn’t heard the name very much lately. Maybe he missed being called by the name his parents used.” So that’s why Jesus was so gentle with the Good Thief? Because he missed being called “Jesus”? Uhm.... Anyway, an overall good rule of thumb is to not extrapolate on Jesus’ inner ruminations, because you’re probably wrong.

4. On writing about the Wedding at Cana, Fr. Martin writes, “She informs Jesus that the party’s hosts have run out of wine. ‘Woman,’ he says to her, ‘what concern is that to you and to me?’ (Addressing your mother as ‘woman’ was as sharp a comment in those days as it would be today.)” - Not true. In the original Greek in this passage the term “woman” is in the vocative case. When the noun “woman” is used in this way, it is always meant as a term of respect, or even endearment. It would be like calling her “ma’am.” So really this is a slight translation problem. Fr. Martin, as a priest, should really know something this basic. It appears that while being very educated in the Protestant “Q Theory,” he doesn’t know very much about the Biblical languages. Also, we must always assume that Christ’s words are righteous - disrespecting his mother would be far from righteous.

5. Again, when writing about the Wedding at Cana and also Mary’s encounter with Jesus in Capernaum, Fr. Martin writes, “Its likely that Mary went through her own journey of understanding Jesus. She moves from confusion about his ministry which prompts her to come to Capernaum, to encouraging him to begin his miracle working in Cana. ... Indeed she seems to grasp Jesus’s vocation before he does - perhaps because she’s had more time to think about it.” ... So, I almost don’t have any words for this one, except “wow.” I think Fr. Martin has a fundamentally skewed understanding of Mary and Jesus’ knowledge. Mary understood from the Annunciation exactly who Jesus is - that He is the Messiah. She was present when Simeon exclaimed that Jesus is the light to the Gentiles and the glory of God. Elizabeth, her cousin, immediately exclaimed her delight at the presence of her Lord in Mary’s womb. Then, Mary proclaimed the Magnificat, praising God for choosing her to bear the Messiah. She may not have always known exactly HOW He would save mankind or been able to predict His every move, but I wouldn’t say that she was by any means “confused” about his identity. She knew He was God and her will was in perfect union with His will. She lovingly trusted and followed Him, and she knew that whatever He did was an act of God. Also, Jesus definitely knew before she did what He was called to do - we see Him already teaching in the synagogue at the age of twelve. Christ had infused knowledge, and through His divine knowledge he had the understanding He needed to perform His ministry and sacrifice.

6. When discussing the verse “Woman, here is your son. ... Here is your mother” Fr. Martin only addresses half of this verse, which is a little irritating. One the one hand, I really loved what he said about the first part (“Woman, here is your son”). He says that Jesus was making sure that Mary was provided for after His imminent death. That’s very beautiful and definitely a point that most people probably miss. So I really appreciated that. However, Fr. Martin ignores the opportunity to discuss the second part (“Here is your son”) and teach about Mary’s universal motherhood. Perhaps he chose to skip this point because many other spiritual writers have covered it so well; but, at the same time, he really is missing the most important part of Jesus’ fourth Last Word. Jesus’ mother becomes Our Mother in that moment. The Theotokos, the God-bearer, suddenly becomes a woman who is called to bear the hearts and prayers of all mankind. She is the new Eve. She is our mother because she leads us to our Savior, the God-man; she lovingly guides us to her Son who she held in her womb for nine months and in her arms for thirty-three years.

7. Fr. Martin explains that proof of Jesus’ true feelings of abandonment are evidence by His shift in how He addresses God the Father. In the Garden, Jesus called the Father “Abba,” while on the cross Jesus called the Father “Eloi.” In other words, he uses an intimate address in the Garden and then a formal address on the cross. I think this is a stretch. Jesus’ intention was clearly to connect his death with Psalm 22, which ends with hope. Jesus’ intention wasn’t to show that He lost hope in His Father’s love, but actually that He still trusted His Father. The message of Psalm 22 is trust in God even in the midst of suffering and loneliness. - Take note, I’m not saying Jesus didn’t suffer. He obviously suffered in both body and soul. My problem is that Fr. Martin’s “evidence” for this is shaky.

8. Fr. Martin writes, “[Jesus] may even have fallen in love with a girl in Nazareth.” What he’s trying to say here is that Jesus had manly experiences. He ate, he drank, he slept. Good. Yes. Jesus is a human and therefore had similar human experiences to us while he was on earth. But do we really need to speculate about His love life? I don’t think that helps, and it can lead to many misconceptions about Jesus’ humanity. All we need to know is that he lived a celibate life. Again, Fr. Martin writes, “Jesus pulled muscles, got headaches, felt sick to his stomach, came down with the flu ...” There is no evidence of any of this. In fact, did the flu even exist in Palestine at this time? There is a reason why St. Thomas Aquinas remains vague on this question. Aquinas affirms that Christ suffered human infirmities and defects (fear, bodily suffering, death). But, Aquinas never extrapolates and says that Jesus suffered the flu or got headaches. The fact is, Jesus is human not because he suffered every possible infirmity, but because he could have. In other words, Jesus lived his whole earthly life never suffering from Covid-19, but that doesn’t make him less human. The fact that he has a body which could have contracted Covid-19 is the real focus. To try and pinpoint exactly which illnesses Christ experienced is ridiculous. Then Fr. Martin writes, “Everything proper to the human being, to the human body, he experienced - except sin.” Therefore, Jesus threw up, scratched, and sneezed! He experienced every possible defect! I mean... no. Go read some more Aquinas.

9. Fr. Martin rarely connects the Seven Last Words of Jesus to the Old Testament. The Old Testament must be read in light of the New Testament, and vice versa. For example, he missed a great opportunity to connect the “I thirst” verse with the hyssop used in Exodus, and the thirst and vinegar mentioned in Psalm 22 and Psalm 69. I’m aware that Fr. Martins intentions aren’t necessarily to write a comprehensive treatise on the Seven Last Words. But at the same time, to truly understand what Jesus was actually saying we must turn to the Old Testament.

10. Connected to point three, Fr. Martin speculates whether Jesus was worried about how his “project” would last after his death. “Did Jesus know what was going to happen after the crucifixion? ... whether his followers would continue to do what he charged them to do. In other words, whether part of what you might call his ‘project’ would survive.” Uhm, yeah. How about “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Continuing, Fr. Martin writes, “That is a kind of suffering too, the suffering of seeing something seemingly come to an end. The suffering of knowing that something may be over. Perhaps this is another way to think about the words, ‘It is finished.’ ... Accepting the possibility that his ‘project’ might not endure must have been difficult.” No!!!! This is so off base!!!! Have you read what Christ said to Peter? “You are Peter and in this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Or the promise he made to the Apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete to aid them after he left? How could he say these things if he didn’t know his “project,” as you call it, would survive?

11. Fr. Martin writes, “As a fully divine person, Jesus would have known all things, with the consciousness of God the Father. Therefore, he would have fully anticipated the Resurrection. But as a fully human person he would have known only what a human being could know ... By that logic, he could not have known what would happen to him after the Crucifixion.” Fr. Martin fundamentally misunderstands Christological dogma. It is true that Jesus knew everything a human being could know. Aquinas calls this infused knowledge. Infused knowledge is not bound by time. So to say that Jesus knew everything that a man can properly know means that he knew literally everything a man could possibly know. He knew where King Tut was buried. He knew C++. He knew Christopher Columbus would discover the West Indies. (Jesus learned over time just like any man, so he didn’t know these things as an infant. But by the time he was in his thirties his brain had developed fully, and he knew anything a thirty-three year old man could know.) He knew anything a man could know. Therefore, he knew he would rise three days after his crucifixion.

12. Fr. Martin writes, “Perhaps [Jesus] fully knew only [on Easter Sunday] who he was. As one theologian has written, on Easter Sunday perhaps Jesus’s identity ‘burst upon him in all clarity.’” - No. Jesus already had the Beatific vision during His earthly life and infused knowledge. He knew while he was on earth.

13. Fr. Martin writes, “For me, Jesus’s sacrifice on Good Friday is even more powerful if he did not fully know what awaited him.” Well there’s your problem Fr.

There are a few moments while I read this book where I was pleasantly surprised with what he wrote. But, despite those few moments, I really think most of what he wrote is plagued with error and poor teaching. In many places the book felt trite rather than deeply spiritually connected to the Catholic tradition. For only being about 100 pages and only taking around 1 1/2 hours to read, there sure is a lot of nonsense in it.
Profile Image for María Amparo.
252 reviews70 followers
April 7, 2021
Una forma didáctica, inteligente y muy cercana de ayudarnos a comprender las palabras que Jesús pronunció en la Cruz, y la forma en que podemos interiorizarlas en nuestro ser. No quita a pesar de su intención, sin embargo, que algunas afirmaciones pueden incluso ser no se si polémicas, pero sí algo desconcertantes, pues propone interpretaciones algo distintas a las comúnmente aceptadas. No obstante, merece la pena considerarlas pues nos acerca al misterio de Jesús Dios y hombre, y a pensar en Él siempre junto nosotros.
Profile Image for Felix Angel.
21 reviews11 followers
March 25, 2016
Another good book from Fr. Martin

Though not as complex as his other books, this newest publication is an excellent devotional for Good Friday.

I'm glad Fr. Martin was prompted to collect these meditations in book form, especially for those of us who didn't listen to him during the Good Friday service at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

I am especially grateful, as usual, for his humor and sincerity.
Profile Image for James.
373 reviews19 followers
October 17, 2018
From an early age I discounted myself. "I am abandoned. I am nothing. What's next?"

"Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" Feeling the suffering of Jesus on his cross, I asked God why. I did feel abandoned by my dad: not as a childish belief.

Perhaps there is solace in suffering here as well for you.

Seven Last Words is awesome.
66 reviews
October 27, 2017
Simple and easy to read. Good for short reflections. I found the writing too short and bland though, not like other books of the same author. Might have been better to make this into a podcast or video.
Profile Image for Tom Wiley.
82 reviews
October 2, 2021
Fr. James Martin compassionately reflects on Jesus’ traditional seven last words. His reflection takes us to some of the powerful places in the human experience: forgiveness, death, familial love, abandonment, pain, disappointment, and self-sacrifice. It’s a great read for Holy Week.
Profile Image for Jane.
233 reviews7 followers
March 25, 2016
The perfect book to listen to during my Holy Week walks and travels.
Profile Image for JC.
437 reviews28 followers
March 28, 2021
I have a friend just starting in an Anglican seminary. He had grown up in the United Church of Canada, and for many years, he had contemplated becoming a Catholic, but eventually settled for becoming Anglican. He often shares James Martin’s social media posts and that is the primary way I became familiar with Martin. Martin has been demonized by much of the Catholic right for his outreach to the queer community. I am amazed because I find Martin so moderate and inoffensive to conservative sensibilities, I can’t quite comprehend how he’s received that backlash. His main point has that been that the Catholic church has in many ways failed its gay congregants, and has not properly ministered to queer Catholics, and that he is deeply concerned at the violence they face. As far as I know, he hasn’t even made any strong assertions about the theological acceptability of being queer, though I wish he would, but just that the Church should welcome them and minister to them.

Anyway, this book did not touch on queer issues once, so I will leave that discussion there. I should point out though that Martin is the editor at large for the Jesuit journal “America” which Dean Detloff writes for (he is a Christian communist that co-hosts The Magnificast podcast). Martin gets a lot of flak for how ecumenical America is in curating writers too. I am not catholic though so I should refrain from sticking my nose where it does not belong.

This book by Martin was composed of reflections on the so-called seven last words (more so, seven last phrases) that the canonical gospels attribute to Jesus as he died on the cross. It’s seasonal reading that I don’t often read outside of this period of Lent. If I’m honest, most of it was not as stimulating as I was hoping for. I think this book would be especially suitable for a more pious or devotional reader, which I unfortunately am not.

One issue that it did raise that I was surprised I had never thought of before was regarding a matter of Christology. As Jesus, according to orthodox Christian doctrine, is supposed to be fully human and fully divine, and his resurrected (human?) body is supposed to be the ‘first fruits’ of the harvest, then is Jesus to be eternally fully human and fully divine moving forward? Martin mentions that Jesus still bore the wounds of the cross after his resurrection when he appeared to his disciples, and that these wounds would eternally be with Jesus or something like that. This raised a few quandaries that I have not looked into yet though that I find rather curious. As Jesus is a member of the eternal Trinity of the ‘Godhead’ and was there in the beginning as John’s philosophical gospel states, was Jesus eternally fully human and fully God, or did that fully human aspect become realized at the moment of ‘incarnation’. And following the Ascension, does Jesus remain fully God and fully human, as the Kingdom of God is realized into the future with everyone resurrected, so on and so forth? Are humans still humans after the resurrection? I realize if people don’t read theology at all, this type of discussion seems so immensely banal and I suppose most could not care less about this stuff, haha. I on the other hand am always a little curious about how theologians solve these funny little puzzles. Whether it’s angels dancing on pinheads or obscure Bolshevik debates about Empiro-Monism, this stuff always makes fun discussion I find. Feel free to disagree. :)
April 1, 2021
Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus by Rev. James Marin, SJ, is a brilliant short book full of fresh insight to Christ’s final statements on the cross as written throughout the Gospels. Martin takes the reader on a compelling journey through each of the seven statements which testifies to both the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. If you have ever wondered who Jesus was and is as a person, the author gives a holistic perspective of Christ as a divine God and as Jesus of Nazareth, the simple man, son, neighbor, and carpenter. In this light, Jesus Christ becomes relatable to all people in any situation. This book inspires readers as it demonstrates that Jesus was also a man and understands firsthand our struggles, fears, and joys in mortal life. It exemplifies the notion that Christ knows and has lived our unique circumstances, so we are not alone in our difficult times, even if we feel like we are. Reverend James Martin, SJ invites readers to get to know Jesus and recognize the joy, not just the suffering, that was Christ’s life. From this perspective on the last seven statements, we learn the most important lessons that Christ wanted to teach us during his time on earth: who he is, who we are, and what our relationship is with him and with each other. Whether you are looking to start or strengthen your relationship with Jesus, soul searching, wanting peace amidst a difficult trial, exploring new perspectives on the topic, or hunting for something new to read, I highly recommend this book. This read is a perfect way to come to know and remember Jesus Christ, especially during this Easter season.
After reading this book, I realized that I can connect with Jesus Christ on a very personal level. I can talk to him honestly about how I feel, and when I do not know what to say, he understands that too. Martin reminded me to find Christ’s joy and apply it to my own life. Even though his life was full of suffering, Jesus laughed, he smiled, he loved, and he loved me enough to be that person I can turn to in any and every situation.
249 reviews3 followers
April 29, 2020
Fr. Martin is my favorite Catholic writer. He is filled with warmth and humor and has such a wonderful way of explaining things. My favorite book of his is The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything and also A Pilgrimage With Jesus. This book was not in the category of those, but still worthwhile. It is based on a homily he gave at St. Patrick’s on Good Friday 2015. It is a short book, and a good way to help you reflect on Jesus. I happened to read it during Lent, but I think it is good at any time. Fr. Martin talks about how the majority of Jesus’ life was filled with joy, especially healing the sick and even bringing the dead back to life. The 7 last “words” are “father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”; “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise”; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”; “Woman, here is your son...here is your mother.”; “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; “I am Thirsty”; and “It is Finished.” He also suggests you remember to let your guard down when you pray. Be honest and tell Jesus all of your struggles. That is what he thirsts for.
Profile Image for Phil.
326 reviews25 followers
April 16, 2022
This is another book that I read for a Christian Education series at church. It was a good choice, I must say, but, then, I really do like Father James Martin as a writer, so that was kind of a forgone conclusion. It is also an ideal Lent book, which is why we did it, with the added twist of getting some speakers to reflect on the words on their own as well.

This book originates in a series of reflections which Father Martin made on the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ, during his crucifixion. The seven words (or sayings) are dispersed through Matthew, Luke and John as statements of Christ from the Cross. Martin reflects on them and applies them to various aspects of the Christian life. I know that that sounds pretty flat as a description, but the reflections are touching, occasionally funny and often profound. I appreciated Father Martin's insights and really enjoyed reading them.

This is a book to read slowly and reflectively. It is, as I said, ideal for Lent or Holy Week. And it is really quite short. Take your time with this and I think you'll see the benefits.
149 reviews
November 19, 2019
Fr. Martin uses this exploration of the last words to bring us to a greater understanding of Jesus's humanity, and I learned much from this book. The mystery of Jesus's being fully God and fully man is truly a mystery, but I have a tendency to get spooked by going too far on the human side of the spectrum. I would love to chat with Fr. Martin and others to learn more about this. I found myself saying "No, no" when he writes about Jesus feeling abandoned (although I have heard this point of view before), and I was disturbed reading about how Jesus's family traveled to "restrain" him when his ministry began because they thought he was crazy. I don't know, I cringed at this, and maybe it's a mark of my immaturity; could Mary really have thought this? I'm not saying she did, it's just that this episode is so strange to me - I need to learn more about it. Great book - prompted a lot of reflection.
Profile Image for Megan.
136 reviews
February 16, 2019
This was a very quick read. I found some of the reflections to be comforting, if a bit simplistic. He doesn't get too in depth but that's fine if you're just in the mood for some spiritual calming and not a university-level theology lesson.

The one thing I found shocking that was mentioned in two of the essays was the comment that Jesus may not have known what was in store for him (such as what would happen at the cross, or if the disciples would spread the word or not). This allows us to be able to relate to him more because he does not know what is to come, just as we don't know where our lives will lead. This baffled me. I don't know what to think. Obviously Christians believe Jesus is both human and divine, which in itself is the concept to grasp. But I have never even considered that he couldn't clearly see the path ahead of him. Wouldn't that take away his divinity and the all-knowingness that comes with being God? To me, him being both human and divine means that he had human experiences but still knows all. I have never heard any Christian make this jump and quite frankly was shocked that Fr. Martin would. Is this a commonly held opinion I have just somehow not heard?
Profile Image for John Connolly.
Author 4 books1 follower
February 22, 2019
Fr. James Martin continues to be one of my favorite authors. His ability to connect with me through books like Between Heaven and Mirth, encouraging me to find the laughter and joy of life, is no less poignant than this incredible and sobering work, Seven Last Words. His command of crafting deep and profound truths of faith continually has me seeking the next book of his that I can find.

Although I quickly absorbed this book in a just a few days I would highly commend it to anyone as a Lenten discipline or group discussion guide. As he mentions in the book, this came as part of a Good Friday service, I commend this to any who want to deepen their own walk during the reflective and holy season of Lent in some way.

Fr. Martin, THANK YOU!! You continue to inspire and help me in my own spiritual disciplines.
78 reviews
October 23, 2016
Everyone who is a Christian or thinking about becoming a Christian should read this! I've never read a book that so clearly and concisely communicates how intensely Jesus understands us. Christ is both human and divine, yet so often we focus on the divine elements (such as the miracles). In this book, Fr. Martin does an incredible job of illustrating the ways in which Jesus was human. I can't recommend this book enough.
Profile Image for Wanda Dossey.
27 reviews1 follower
July 6, 2017
Every time I read James Martin, SJ, I learn and grow. He either confirms what I know or brings up something that makes me see from another angle. I appreciate his stories, his insight and his knowledge. James Martin, SJ, is not afraid to make his writings fun and joyful even while discussing topics of importance. He also shares some great stories in his writings. This book was no exception. Read in one sitting, I want to go back to it time and again, as I do with his other books.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,112 reviews37 followers
April 3, 2018
A perfect read for Easter weekend. Father James Martin meditates on the last seven times that Jesus speaks during his last hours of great suffering. These last words show Jesus at his most human. Contemplating on Jesus's sense of loss and pain can make us feel closer to him when we suffer. I can no longer call myself a Catholic but I find much comfort in the work of Father James Martin. I feel restored.
Profile Image for Jacque Kelnhofer.
48 reviews1 follower
April 8, 2020
A Holy Week "Must Read"

Never before have I encountered Jesus so personally, so human...so much like me. How easily we forget that though he was divine, he was also "just a man." Too often we simplify Jesus' humanity to an unremarkable detail, when in fact, it's his humanity that is the ultimate assurance that we are truly understood and accompanied. Courtesy of Fr. Martin's insights, I am meeting Jesus anew this Good Friday.
Profile Image for jude.
111 reviews2 followers
September 7, 2020
“Jesus understands that when we give ourselves to the Father, we may not know what kind of new life will come from our offering. And he knows that the more we give ourselves to the Father, the more new life can come from whatever we give.
The more we give of ourselves, the more we know who we are.
The more we give of ourselves, the fuller lives we will lead.
And so, into your hands, O God, we commend our spirits.”
Profile Image for Margaret.
813 reviews
January 20, 2023
This very short book would make a good devotional for lent. I not only appreciate the amount of research ( and pray) that the author puts into all his books, but the fact that he admits that he doesn’t know certain things. I am much more trusting of a pastor/priest who says that they are not sure what the Bible means in a certain situation than one who tells you that they know exactly what it means. These are a lot of things in the Bible that are not 100% clear.
Profile Image for Crystal Hammon.
47 reviews5 followers
December 16, 2016
This is a lovely read, exploring a side of Christ that should be encouraging to anyone of faith. Although it is sprinkled lightly with Catholic doctrine that is not consistent with my beliefs (I don't pray to the Virgin Mary) it is no less valuable as a whole due to its exegesis of Christ's words on the cross.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,259 reviews23 followers
March 2, 2018
This book was even better than I thought it would be. I am a big fan of Fr. Jim for his gentle, clear communication but this piece is a short, beautiful work that shows so much humanity of Jesus that the conclusion brought me to tears. Good for my Lenten reading, but for anytime, especially when you need an understanding friend. 💜
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