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Gloria Crucis by J. H. Beibitz

VIII THE SEVENTH WORD

|Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.| ST. LUKE XXIII.46.

The consummation of sacrifice, the union of the human will with the Divine, leads to the perfect rest in God.

1. We have tried to deal with the Seven Words as constituting a revelation of the Divine Sonship of humanity. From this point of view it is significant that the first and the last begin, like the Lord's Prayer, with a direct address to the Father.

The service of the Christian man is that of a son in his father's house, of a free man, not of a slave. The Fatherhood of God is the very key- note of the Christian view of life and of death. In both alike we are the objects of the Father's individual care and love; in both we bear the supreme dignity of |the sons of the Most High.|

That dignity belongs inalienably to our human nature as such. Baptism conveys no gift alien and extraneous to our manhood. Rather, that union with the Only Begotten Son is not an addition to, but the restoration of our nature by Him in Whose Image it was created. United thus to the Eternal Son, we are placed in a position to realise the possibilities of our being, to become that which we are constituted capable of becoming. That is the true answer to the question, how can we be made children of God by Baptism?

And through work, and prayer, and suffering, we are to grow into, and perfectly realise, our Divine sonship.

2. These dying words of the Son of God breathe no spirit of mere passive resignation. That is the spirit of the Oriental fatalist, not of the son conscious of his sonship, of his heirship. Even the Lord's Death was not the yielding to inexorable necessity, to the inevitable working of the laws of nature. It was, if anything in His Life was, the deliberate act of His conscious Will. |I commend,| rather, |I commit My Spirit.| |I lay down My life . . . therefore the Father loveth Me.|

Submission to the Will of God is not necessarily a Christian virtue at all. What is Christian is the glad recognition of what manner of will the Divine Will is, how altogether |good, perfect, and acceptable,| how infinitely righteous, and holy, and loving; the doing of that glorious Will with mind, and heart, and will, and body; the praying with all sincerity and intention that that Will, which is the happiness and joy and life of all creatures, may increasingly |be done, as in heaven, so on earth|; the free and glad surrender, in life and death, to that Will which is the perfection and consummation of our manhood.

3. Such an attitude of our whole being, which is what is meant by being a Christian, can only be ours by virtue of the Spirit of the Son of God dwelling and working within us, and moulding us into His perfect Likeness. In Him alone we can come to our sonship, to that which is from the first, potentially, our own. |Ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as were baptised into Christ did put on Christ.| Work and suffering, life and death, can only be borne, and lived, and endured by us in the spirit of sonship, so far as we are actually |in Christ.|

Let us pray that the Mind and Will of the Son of God, disclosed to us in these Seven Words, may be ours in ever-increasing measure. They can be ours, if we are in Him, and He in us.

The foundation fact of the Christian life, that which alone makes it possible, is our union, through sacraments and faith, with Christ; our actual sharing in His Life, imparted by His Spirit to the members of His Body. We are meant to be ever drawing upon the infinite moral resources of that Life by repeated acts of faith. For, as with all other gifts of God, so it is with this, His supreme gift; we only know it as ours -- it is, in a real sense, only truly our own -- in proportion as we are using it.

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