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Fr Billy Swan.

Concluding the series


‘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'.


‘It was now about the sixth hour and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”. When he had said this, he breathed his last’ (Luke 23:44-46).

The end was near. He was in great distress, overcome by pain, his mind in turmoil. His last words were crucial for they would give us an insight into whether he had kept faith right up to the end. Despite the terrible circumstances of his death and how he was broken in mind and in body, could he make that last and final push over the line and abandon himself to his Father as he had done all his life? His prayer ‘Into your hands I commend my spirit’ was his leap of love from life on earth to life with the Father. Those words were the password into God’s presence, into those hands - those safe hands stretching out to receive his weary soul. Not for him the fear of judgment, for in him there was no sin. For us, there may be fear indeed for we have sinned and have, at times, turned our back on him. Yet even at our final moment, we can turn one last time to him and, like Jesus, make our last words like his: ‘Father into your hands I commend my Spirit’. At that moment, all that we ever had will be left behind. At that moment, we will be stripped of everything except our ability to repeat those words and entrust ourselves one final time to the God who awaits us. Listen to these beautiful words of Andrew Robinson, a young seminarian, who wrote them as he was about to die from cancer: ‘As you get closer and closer to the finish line you feel the exhilaration, you begin to smile and shed a tear of joy, one final push and you cross the line. You enter that light in all its glory. Death is that moment of transition when, please God, I will be fully reunited to the Father’ (Andrew Robinson, Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn). At that moment he is waiting for us to tell the story of our lives which only he can understand. He knows the burdens we have carried, the struggles too, the reasons for our

failure and our sins. He will whisper into our ear: ‘Come!’ Then we shall enter, happy and ready to wait until purified and made worthy to be with him and to rest forever in those loving arms.

Lord Jesus, I embrace your cross, Lord of eternal love. Have mercy on me. Receive me into your love. And when I come to the end of my pilgrimage, when the day begins to decline and the shadows of death surround me, speak your last word at the end of my life too: ‘Father into your hands I commend his spirit’. Amen.

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