Sister Doreen’s Reflections
“It is accomplished” (John 19:30)
From the Tree of the Cross Jesus spoke words of healing, seven important qualities we all need if we are to help complete God’s vision for humanity: in this sixth word spoken from the Cross for healing: LOVE’S CONSUMMATION
Dreams, plans, hopes, sorrows, destinies, perfecting, conclusion, consummation, completeness
A leaf of healing held out to us and to the world.
This 6th word is interpreted as the announcement of the end, the completion. It is as if the words were saying “I have done the work you gave me to do”. There is a sense of satisfaction in this 6th word from the cross. This is the second time that God expresses deep satisfaction with his work. In the beginning in Genesis God looks at all he had made, and he says “It is very good” and he rests from his work. “It is accomplished, finished” is perhaps the greatest single statement in human history. And in each case what is finished is just beginning.
I believe it is finished means much more – the human work of God is done, and now God is ready for us to do the work of continuing and completing the work that God started. Here is the big challenge – to transform humanity and renew the face of the earth. We can think of these words now as providing the cosmic body in which each of us will live and participate as active members.
All of us know what a tremendous relief it is when some great task has been brought to a successful conclusion after long and sustained effort. If it is a problem we have struggled with, or relationship that needs working at, a failure we have come to terms with, a traumatic incident in our life that has changed life for us – all of these incidents need to have pronounced over them – “it is accomplished” in triumph and satisfaction. And then we move into what is next. It is like ‘the more I understand and the more I know, the more I understand that there is more to know and understand”!
To remain with something – not necessarily win or succeed, just remain, hang in there, finish – until its done, so few of us unfortunately do that. Our human tendency is to quit too soon. Our human tendency is to stop before we cross the finish line. Our inability to finish what we start is seen in the smallest things: a half tidied yard or mowed lawn, a half-read book, a half-written letter, an abandoned diet …. You can fill in your own litany, just as I also have a personal litany of the unfinished or abandoned in my life. It shows up in life’s most painful areas: an abandoned child, the inability to stick at a job, an estranged relationship.
How often have we considered giving up? And yet these words of Jesus – “It is accomplished – finished” – are words of encouragement, words of determination, words of healing. We are all familiar with the prayer that contains the line … it is not in the beginning but in the finishing that brings the true glory.
A human “yes” or “no” is the most simple and the most convincing response we can make during our lifetime. The simplicity implied in saying “yes” or “no” in response is simple for its depth, for it comes from a place of honesty where one’s very being and self-mystery senses its worth is at stake.
It is finished: healing words assuring us that we have a capacity to see things through. We have response ability to God’s call and God’s love in our lives: an ability to respond.
It is accomplished can only be pronounced over a life which contains in it an answer of “yes” to life and a promise of commitment. To live life like this we must believe that God himself is really present, hidden perhaps, but among and between and in ordinary people, events, times, and places making them special just because he is there. As we have considered the healing leaves of forgiveness, intimacy, responsibility, loneliness, companionship and love’s priorities – so we consider also promise and commitment as elements of deep healing held out to us in this word from Jesus – “it is accomplished”.
God has been – God is – reaching out to us, drawing us to himself. This has been true long before we even understood his love.
God’s promises are breath taking: to those who overcome, I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the garden of God. I will give you the crown of life. He judges us as we dare not judge ourselves, he promises us what we could not dream of promising ourselves, but more amazing yet, he honours us as we dare not in our most foolish vanity honour ourselves.
Wisdom is confidence that we are not in the world alone or operating on principles that we thought up ourselves yesterday. God himself set all things on earth in motion, and invites us to be partners, and we have an underlying faith that God will not forsake us, that in some sense God’s order will prevail.
In Max Lucado’s words:
Are you close to quitting? Please don’t do it. Are you discouraged as a parent? Hang in there. Are you weary with doing good? Do just a little more. Are you pessimistic about your job? Roll up your sleeves and go at it again. No communication in your marriage? Give it one more try. Can’t resist temptation? Accept God’s forgiveness and go one more round. Is your day framed with sorrow and disappointment? Are your tomorrows turning into nevers? Is hope a forgotten word?
Remember, a finisher is not one with no wounds or weariness. Quite to the contrary. Mother Teresa is credited with saying, “God didn’t call us to be successful, just faithful.”
The sixth word from the Cross “It is accomplished, finished” speaks a word of healing – of faithfulness, of remaining, enduring and finishing. It is an immense relief and joy to know that we have given something our best, all our energy. It is healing to know that this faithfulness and not our success is the call to which we are responding. Keep on, just one more time, in faithfulness … we have the ability to respond, to go on and bring something to the finish: ah the relief, the healing balm. What encouragement to us in our daily round!
What kind of encouragement are we speaking to those small or great challenges that we face?
What kind of encouragement are we speaking, to those around us, to the world?