John 19:28-30

After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), "I thirst." A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

It is worth noting that Jesus died with none of the comforts of the Sacraments.  From a purely rational viewpoint, we can, of course, reply, "Well, he didn't need them" which is perfectly true.  But still, anyone with a heart can only appreciate more the sheer magnitude of the self-sacrifice he made for us.  Most of us will die in our beds, surrounded by family and friends, comforted by the sacraments of the Church and with caregivers giving care.  He died stark naked, covered with the blood of his scourging and the spit of his enemies, in murderous pain while the laughter of strangers rang in his ears.  It is grace beyond description that a race such as ours, dealing out death such as that, could receive in return the gift of Viaticum, the final  Eucharist for our journey to heaven.  When he cried for drink in his death agonies, we gave him vinegar.  When we cry for mercy, he feeds the very flesh and blood we tortured to death on the cross.  What love!

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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