Those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus saw his hours of agony and heard him cry out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” as he gave up his spirit. His final words from the cross were not a cry of painful defeat but a shout of triumph, because he had accomplished all that the Father sent him to do: “It is finished!”
Richard Fairchild, a Protestant pastor, has this reflection on Jesus’ last words: What a sigh of relief! What a cry of deliverance, that finally, after seemingly endless pain and gasping torment… it is over at last. The suffering is ended. The ordeal is finished and nothing remains but the blessed peace of the absence of all sensation. When all there is, is pain its ceasing is the greatest blessing of all even when its ceasing comes only with death. But Jesus’ cry is more than just welcoming the ending of pain it is more than joy at the deliverance death brings. He does not merely say, “It is over”, he says, “It is accomplished… fulfilled… achieved.” Jesus’ cry is not a cry of defeat and despair. It is a cry of success and triumph – even at the moment of death – that the race has been run… that he has endured to the end… that the strife is over and the battle is won. Jesus’ cry is a cry of relief to be sure, but it is also a cry of victory: “The work I came to do is complete.” There is nothing more to add. “It is finished.”
When Jesus died, he shared in what all of us must experience. But far beyond that, he did what none of us can do: He paid the price for our sins that we might be forgiven and have eternal life through faith in him. “It is finished!” was Jesus’ shout of victory because now, through him, we can escape the power of sin… we can live and be free.
We call the Friday on which Jesus died Good Friday. What is good is not the suffering inflicted on Jesus or the killing of Jesus by those who condemn and execute him. What makes all this good is the love with which Jesus voluntarily, in loving obedience to his Father, accepts all the suffering and death inflicted on him and submits himself to the will of his Father for our sake – even as they are torturing and killing him. Yes, God is able to make all things work together unto good for those who love him and in this case, not only for Christ’s good, but for our good. (Bishop Bacani)
It is said, “We can turn all the evil in our lives into good by submitting them to the Divine alchemy of love.” Are you inflicted by the evils of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy, and pride? Is your marriage rocked by the evils of infidelity, extra-marital affair, and betrayal of trust? Is your family attacked by the evils of quarrel and violence, of anger and hatred, of unforgiveness and bitterness? Are you overwhelmed by various forms of evil? Submit them to the Divine alchemy of love.
What does this mean? It is letting God’s love be a real power in us – enabling us to overcome every form of evil from within and from without. Let God’s love forgive us of our selfishness and sinfulness… let it empower us to respond to the call to conversion… let it empower us to live out the gospel values of simplicity, poverty, generosity, sharing, and self-giving. Let God’s love heal our wounded and broken relationships… let it empower us to let go of resentment and bitterness… let it empower us to forgive from the heart and to reconcile with our sisters and brothers. Let God’s love inspire us, move us, spur us to true greatness… let it empower us to follow Jesus closely and faithfully… let it empower us to become the best persons that God created us to be – image of his goodness and beauty.
Yes, God is so good… and can turn our evil into good. Let us welcome God’s goodness and submit ourselves to it, so that we ourselves may become truly good. Let not all the goodness shown to us by God in the suffering and death of Jesus be wasted on us but be for our good.