It Is Finished

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In St. John’s gospel, these are the last words Jesus speaks then he “bows his head and hands over the spirit.” John 19:30.

These words it is finished’ used in John’s gospel can also be translated ‘’it is fulfilled.’ Jesus truly completes his mission on earth as he dies on the cross. His suffering is now over, and his blood flows from the cross and over the rock of Calvary, reaching the ends of the earth as the ultimate sacrifice for us all. Jesus knew his earthly purpose was fulfilled, but that his journey was not over, for he would join his Father, along with the good thief, in paradise that day.

Jesus had a divine mission on earth. God also has a holy purpose for each one of us in this life, and God determines when our purpose has been fulfilled.   All of life’s daily joys and challenges are an opportunity – an invitation – for us to live our mission. Sometimes we struggle with suffering or prolonged hardships, wondering when the ordeal will end. Perhaps we struggle with a chronic medical condition such as arthritis or diverticulitis. Perhaps we care for an elderly parent, or a spouse whose health is significantly declined.   Perhaps we have struggled financially for many years, or we have wayward children whom we desperately want to be healed and reunited with God. Perhaps we struggle with depression or anxiety, which can make daily routines feel enormously burdensome.

Whatever the prolonged suffering might be, God is still working in our lives and if we cooperate with him, we will fulfill our mission on this earth, and be with him in heaven. Leave the mystery of the purpose of your suffering to God. Embrace your cross, and know that one day, your earthly purpose will be fulfilled; your life will have furthered the kingdom of God. God will welcome you into paradise, as he did the good thief and Jesus on that Good Friday. Our merciful Lord will say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Matt. 25:21

It is finished.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy;  They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee. Isaiah 51:11

Sharon Bohlen is a teacher at St. Andrew, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School sharon-bohlen-new

I Thirst – Reflection 2

Of the Seven Last Words, this is the shortest, only 2 words. But after reflecting on these two words for some time, I have identified 3 very different meanings to these 2 words.

First, I’ve always thought that this phrase of the Seven Last Words truly demonstrated Jesus’ humanity. He is thirsty. What could be more human? His journey to the cross has taken him several days. He has walked miles from the Upper Room in Jerusalem to the Garden of Gethsemane, across the Kidron Valley into Jerusalem to be sentenced, back across the valley again to be imprisoned and scourged. Then to Jerusalem to be sentenced to death and begin his journey carrying the cross through the city. It was likely hot weather when he began to carry the cross through the dusty city streets, where he was spit upon, taunted, beaten and finally nailed to the cross and raised to hang in humiliation. Is it no wonder he was physically thirsty? So, why did he refuse it when they offered him a drink? For what else could he be thirsting?

Second, at the foot of the cross, there were only 3 people, his mother, Mary Magdalen and John, the disciple he loved. The apostles were hiding in fear for their own lives and the crowds who clamored around him begging for healing were nowhere to be found. In his book, The Seven Last Words, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen says it was not earthly water for which Jesus thirsted but for human love. He says, “The Creator cannot live without the creature, the Shepard without sheep, the thirst of Christ’s love without the soul-water of Christians.” He was thirsting for you and I. Sometimes I try to put myself at the foot of the cross. When I heard Christ say, “I thirst” I don’t think I ever thought he meant for me.

As I continued my journey, the third thing I thought was Jeusus was thirsting for his Father. I have been blessed, as many of us have, to be with someone of faith who is nearing their physical death. As they approach the end, they realize the inevitable is nearing and a great peace comes over them. They are closer to God than they have ever been and realize it is very good. During Lent we sing the Psalm, “My soul is yearning for you my Lord, my God.” Hopefully, we realize that what we have worked for our entire life is almost here.

I thirst!

Dear Lord, help me to always dig deeper into your Word to be able to understand the true meaning of your life and death, as well as mine.  D29BF91F-326B-4778-8E20-A127888D1370.medium

Cathy O’Toole

I Thirst

img_0026Water is vitally important to us in our daily lives.  We need it to bathe, give water to our lawns, our pets and to our plants.  Our clothes are made clean using water.  The human body is 60% water.

Whenever I make an appointment to meet with my doctor, he always tells me to be sure to drink plenty of water in order to remain healthy.  The MAYO Clinic advises us to drink 9-13 cups of water every day to help keep hydrated.

Jesus, the Christ, as He was about to die on the cross said, “I thirst!” He wanted water.  The barbaric form of execution by crucifixion resulted in bleeding and dehydration.  I always think that had I been at the foot of His cross, I would have done whatever I could, then and there, to  relieve his thirst and bring him comfort with a drink of water.

When I worked as a hospice nurse frequently I was at the bedside of someone who was actively dying.  The person had no desire or need for food at that point in his life but often would ask for water.  They would take tiny sips of water through a straw or from a teaspoon and found relief.  It could be seen on the person’s face that water had given them some form of comfort.

In the Old Testament in the book of Psalms, David the writer of Psalm 63 tells us his soul it thirsting for God! It is said David wrote this psalm while in the barren desert of Judah, lands parched, lifeless and without water. His source of life, he knew from lived experience, was his God.

My soul is thirsting for my God also.  Not just because of Lent.  I feel today that I too am in a desert.  A desert of crime, murders, racism, misleading TV discourse, angry news reports, uncertainties in our country, my church, the world and my friendships. I thirst also, my sweet Jesus.

I thirst.

Help me to come to You and the Father, not just in this Lenten season but every day of my life.  Let me seek Your fountain of loving waters to refresh my soul, my spirit, myself, now and at the hour of my death.

Marcy Schutte

Marcy Schutte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

img_0026Have you ever thought to yourself when things aren’t going the way you think they should, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Recently, I have had multiple health issues, none potentially serious on their own.  This has gone on for several months and by now has completely depleted me of energy, causing me to be tired all the time.  I have had to cancel most things on my schedule because it just seems overwhelming to even consider these functions.

Then, this past weekend as the temperature outside dipped to 20 degrees, my furnace went out and couldn’t be repaired until Monday morning.  And, guess what crossed my mind?  Father, why have you forsaken me?  I felt abandoned.  As soon as I thought that, I was sorrowful that my faith was so weak. Do I really have so little trust in God to even think that?

As I was feeling sorry for myself, I thought about the many people that I work for at Hope Emergency who have so many health issues and I realized how truly blessed I am.  They not only need food to supplement their meager budget but blankets to keep them warm all the time.  The furnace man is likely not coming to them in the next 2 days.  Their health issues will also not likely be settled over time with a few medications and bedrest.  I wonder how I could have ever thought God had forsaken me.

And now during Lent, as I put myself at the foot of the cross and see Jesus raise his head to the heavens and hear Him whisper, “My God, why have you forsaken me”, I realize this may not be a lack of faith but rather the human trait of feeling abandoned.  Even Jesus, the man, reached this point when his suffering became so great, he could take no more!  He thought he had been forgotten by his father. I’ve never thought of Jesus as being weak but rather a man of supreme faith and strength.  Yet, Jesus is saying the same thing that I was thinking.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen noted in his book, The Seven Last Words that, “It was the supreme act of atonement for three classes of people: those who abandon God, those who doubt the presence of God, and those who are indifferent to God.”

My God, never let me reach a point where I feel you have totally abandoned me!

D29BF91F-326B-4778-8E20-A127888D1370.medium                                                                                                             Cathy O’Toole

Woman, This is Your Son . . . This is Your Mother

When Jesus therefore had seen His Mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He said to His Mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He said to the disciple: Behold thy Mother. John 19: 26-27

 There she stood, His Mother, at the foot of the Cross, gazing at her Son.  She stood, not falling, not filled with self-pity.  She was strong for Him, and comforted Him as only a Mother can in those final hours.  The agony they shared was as indescribable as the love they had for each other.  Beside Mary was John, the disciple whom He loved.  John too was gazing at Jesus.  As Jesus hung from the Cross, John’s love for Jesus was so great and intense, that he could not have loved Jesus any more than he did at that moment.

Then, Jesus looked at Mary, and turned her gaze from Himself to John and said, “Behold thy son.”

Likewise, Jesus looked at John and turned John’s gaze from Himself to Mary and said, “Behold thy Mother.”  It was His final gift from the Cross, his most valuable possession – His Mother.  He was entrusting her to His Beloved Disciple, to His Mystical Body, that she might raise her spiritual children as she had raised Him.

As John took her into his home, he received the tender love, compassion and instruction of the Blessed Mother.  She formed him into “another Christ” and John’s love for Jesus grew even greater.  The same can be true for each of us.  For these words of Jesus from the Cross are not only about Mary and John, but about Mary and each one of us. When we take Mary into our “home” and allow her to be our spiritual Mother, she will help us to imitate Christ and love Him far more than we could without her help.

This Lent, allow yourself to receive Christ’s gift of His Mother as He speaks the third word from the Cross. Go to her often, in all your needs, and allow her to “mother” you as she did her own Son.  She will lead you to experience a love for Jesus that is so great and profound, it will change your life forever.

                                                                                                    JoAnne Lacey     JoAnne Lacey

Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise

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Two criminals, guilty and deserving of death, hang beside Jesus. When one mocks and blasphemes our Lord, the other rebukes him responding, “Do you not even fear God?”

He continues, admitting their guilt and the justness of their punishment, and recognizing that “this Man has done nothing wrong.” More amazingly, he recognizes Christ as the Messiah and King when he says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

We cannot know the reasons for this remarkable change of heart. Perhaps he was moved by Jesus’ patient suffering, or his request for forgiveness for his tormentors. This man was a career criminal, no follower of Jesus, and had done nothing to merit salvation. But Jesus answers, “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” and God’s forgiveness is immediate, and with it the assurance of eternal life.

Every word Jesus speaks in Scripture is important and significant, but none more than these. He teaches us to believe that the mercy of God is always ready to reach out to save a soul, and to generously open the door to heaven to those who repent. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matt 7:7. God’s goal from before creation has been to be with us, and for us to be with Him; this is our destiny as Christians. God’s love exceeds anything we can imagine and His mercy embraces and heals us, if only we ask, as the dying thief does. God’s great and perfect love requires a response: to love Him and each other, and to forgive as He forgives.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to forgive those who hurt us, just as it can be hard to believe that God can forgive us. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Real belief in forgiveness is the sort of thing that easily slips away if we don’t keep polishing it up.” Lent is the perfect time for “polishing,” as we reflect on Jesus’ dying words.Monica

Monica Clark

 

Look on me, Lord Jesus Christ, as You looked on the thief on his cross, and on every sinner whom You have ever forgiven. Call me from darkness to my Father’s house; give me a new heart and a place at Your side at the banquet of Your kingdom. Amen  

From the Columban Fathers 

Father, forgive Them, They Know Not what They Do.

goodthiefDuring his lifetime Jesus had repeatedly taught his disciples not to respond to violence with more violence but rather to forgive. In his final moments on earth he forgives the very man who had condemned him and those who drove the stakes through his body. Luke 23:34

When one of the crucified criminals joins in the course of derision that accompanies Jesus to his death, the other confesses his sins and ask for mercy. Luke 23:39-43 It is appropriate in light of this gospel scene and in light of our daily struggles for forgiveness and reconciliation to share this excerpt from the best-selling book, Dead Man Walking.

The author wrote, Lloyd LeBlanc, the author of the book said he would have been content with imprisonment for Patrick Sonnier (who murdered Leblanc’s son David). He went to the execution, he says, not for revenge but hoping for an apology.  Patrick Sonnier had not disappointed him. Before sitting in the electric chair he said, “Mr. LeBlanc, I want to ask your forgiveness for what me and Eddie done.” Lloyd LeBlanc nodded his head signaling the forgiveness he had already given.

LeBlanc says that when he arrived with sheriff’s deputies in the cane field to identify his son, he knelt by the boy’s body… lying down there with his two little eyes sticking out like bullets, he prayed the Our Father. When he came to the words, father forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, he had not halted or equivocated and said, “Whoever did this I forgive them.”  Mr. LeBlanc acknowledged that it’s a struggle to overcome the feelings of bitterness and revenge that well up, especially as he remembers his son David’s birthday year-by-year and loses him all over again: David at 20, David at 25, David getting married, David standing at the back door with his little ones clustered around his knees, grown-up David, a man like himself whom he will never know. Forgiveness is never going to be easy. Each day it must be prayed for and struggled for and won.

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

Deacon Tim Schutte is a life-long member of St. Andrew, the Apostle Church. He has been a Deacon for more than 10 years.