Fr Billy Swan
‘After Jesus had taken the wine he said: ‘It is finished’; and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit’ (John 19:30).
Obedient to his Father’s will, Jesus had accomplished the work that he had been given: to take our pain and death, upon himself. He had come through it all: from being born in a stable in poverty, to working as a carpenter until he was 30; to being an itinerant preacher and worker of great deeds that drew great crowds and popularity at the beginning. As time went on, his popularity declined and some became more hostile and then even more. He had escaped their plots and scheming several times for his hour had not yet come. But now his time had come for him to be handed over and to be crushed by suffering. His mission ended in apparent failure. The crowds deserted him and even his closest friends betrayed him and denied him. Yet they could not destroy his integrity, his faith and his commitment to what the Father had sent him to do. Hoping against hope that this was the Father’s will, he trusted that somehow God’s kingdom would come about despite his death and because he had been faithful to his mission from the Father. Therefore, he cried out ‘It is finished’.
He had become man in order to endure the pain known by many in wars, famines and tragedies. Neither did he spare himself from human agonies of soul: mental anguish, betrayal, abandonment and loneliness. Do you know suffering? So did he. Have you felt abandoned by God? So did he. Have you been humiliated, despised, insulted? So was he. Perhaps you have been misunderstood, vilified. So was he. He too walked in the dark, entered the tomb lifeless and defeated, vanquished. But death could not win. His body could not be imprisoned. He rose again, victorious over death and sin. He has made all things new. It is finished. His work is done. There will still be wars and famines and people will go on suffering. But because of what Jesus has accomplished, a seed of hope is hidden in pain, hope is hidden in despair and joy is concealed in human sadness. Jesus said the words ‘It is finished’ because every human suffering possible had been embraced by him, touched by him and because this is true, no one is left without hope.
Lord Jesus Christ, you were sent by the Father so that we might have life and have it to the full. In your life you were no stranger to suffering and difficulty but despite everything, you never deviated from the path of obedience to your Father’s will and your faithfulness to what he had sent you to do. When my life comes to an end, may I too make your words my own: ‘It is finished’. May I rejoice in having done the will of the Father and finished the work that he entrusted to me. Then, may I rejoice with you forever and may what has finished become the beginning of life forever with you. Amen.