PAID IN FULL

Friday of the Passion of the Lord    

            Imagine you have a ₱10,000,000 debt. Someone comes to you and writes out a check for ₱10,000,000 saying, “This is all for you, to cancel your debt.” “You don’t have to do anything but reach out and take it, and it’s yours.” In disbelief, you take the money and pay your debt. You are now debt free. You are totally and completely in the clear.

            One of the Seven Last Words of Jesus is: “It is finished.” In Greek it is only one word: “Tetelestai.” Scholars had an insight into the precise meaning of this word when archeologists unearthed a tax collector’s office in Jerusalem with all the billings and tax records well preserved. There were two files of tax records. One file was marked “pliroteos,” meaning “payable, still due.” The other was marked “tetelestai,” meaning “paid in full.”

            When Jesus said, “Tetelestai… It is finished,” our bill was paid in full. The debt we owe God for our sins has been “paid in full.” Jesus went upon the cross and gave his life for us. Jesus did not just die for our little transgressions; he died for all of our sins. He paid the price in full.

            That is what happened on Good Friday: Jesus paid the price for our sins. We did nothing to deserve it. We did nothing to earn it. It was a completely free gift but a gift that cost his life. Jesus died so that we may live with him. And he died for the sins that we are too ashamed to admit to and confess. Jesus died for all. We have to accept that and live a life of gratitude.

            The healthiest response – actually, the only proper response – to a wrongdoing is to simply admit that we did wrong. Admit that we are at fault and that we are guilty. What do we do with the guilt? Well, we do not beat ourselves up and languish in negative feelings. We turn to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. He died to take away our guilt, not to add to it.

            No matter what we may have done, how big or small the offense, if we confess our sin, if we are contrite, we are forgiven. We are guilt free. Jesus took the guilt upon himself. “Tetelestai” – our debt to God has been “paid in full.”

            How do you respond to this? What are you to do? All you have to do is to say: “Amen… So be it.” All you have to do is to believe, in your heart, that these words apply to you personally – no matter the gravity of the sin you have been involved in, no matter the grievousness of the wicked things you have done, no matter the great amount of debt you owe. Your debt has been paid in full. All you have to do is to say: “Thank you, Lord Jesus.” And learn to be grateful all your life.

            That is why we come to Mass every Sunday… That is why we celebrate the Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving.” That is why we express our profound gratitude by living out the spirituality of stewardship, by being mission partners of Christ, by trying to be loving and kind to others. That is also why we try to avoid sin. If Jesus has paid all the debt that I owe to God, I must see to it that I do not go about accumulating more debt.

            As we look up to the Cross today and contemplate Jesus dying to make the full payment for our sins, let us thank him… let us promise him that our whole lived will be one unbroken song of thanksgiving to him who gave his life to make full payment for the immeasurable debt we owe to God.

            “Tetelestai… It is finished… It is paid in full.”

            Let us pray: Father, You so loved us that you gave us your only Son. Thank you for this Precious Gift. Thank you for his sacrifice that I too often take for granted. Today, may I especially show my gratitude for this Incredible Sacrifice. I am not only to admire and appreciate his suffering and death, but I am to give myself to others. Let me put to death my selfishness, and let me die to myself each die to bring life to others. May I live a life of remembering how much Jesus loves me: He died for me. I do not deserve it. I can only accept it and live a life of gratitude. As Jesus gave his life for me, may I give my life for Him. And may I live a life that honors You. Amen.         

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