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