SEVEN LAST WORDS – ‘ACCOMPLISHED’ & ‘INTO YOUR HANDS’

  INTRO:  We have listened to Jesus in dialogue from the Cross with first His Father, then with his criminal companions in death, finally with the Church (expressed in Mary and John). Then we listened as he cried out his need from the place of His and our despair, in ‘forsakenness’ and desperate thirst. Now we listen to and reflect upon the remaining ‘Last Words’ that speak of Abandonment to Abba, Father in which we find the perfection of love.

[1] ‘It is accomplished’  (John 19: 30). Sometimes Jesus’ words are translated ‘it is finished’, which sounds like ‘it is all over’ – but it is only just beginning! As the moment of total abandonment in death approaches, Jesus’ mission as Messiah and Servant King reaches the climax. Everything about Jesus, from his conception, hidden in the womb of Mary and the overshadowing of the Spirit, through his three short years of healing, prophetic preaching, courageous conflict, forming community, commitment to the poor and despairing, through these years of Love made Flesh especially for the Poor, to this ultimate moment of Sacrificial Love, – all is gathered up into these three tiny words – ‘It is accomplished!’. 

[2] But what is accomplished? – it all seems a miserable failure! No prosperity Gospel here! No successful global Revival! Jesus is dying – alone except for Mary, a few women and one solitary young disciple! His friends that he laboured over during those three years now betrayed, denied and deserted him – and when he needed them most!  And of course there were present the soldiers and the jeering, taunting crowds and religious leaders (‘Come off the Cross now and we will believe in you (Matt 29: 40-42) – the final temptation, foreshadowed in the 40 days in the wilderness when he was tempted to attract ‘converts’ by using the spectacular instead of the loving – jump off the pinnacle of the Temple!’). There is far more a Theology of Failure in the Gospels than a victory ride! We should not seek success, but faithfulness; not obsessed with being effective and efficient but obsessed with being loving and compassionate. So what is accomplished – the Perfection of Love. The word used here in the Gospel means ‘perfected’. Love is perfected – that sums up Jesus’ whole being and doing, His Presence and His Mission – to bring about in Human Flesh the Divine Word (the Divine Event) of Perfect Love! The Love that reaches into the depth of the human condition, into the guilts with forgiveness, into the loneliness with life-giving community, into the wounds with healing, into all (and whoever) held captive with freedom, into the oppressed with justice! In the surrender that is the sacrificing of everything and the whole self for Love’s sake – Love is perfected and all that the Incarnation of the Word made Flesh is for – it is accomplished! 

[3] These simple words call us to journey to the Perfection of Love. We are the people of the Eucharist, the People who gather around the Table of Broken Bread and Poured out Cup – who touch and embrace the one unique Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. We eat and drink this Perfection of Love that is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the Crucified and Risen One.  Will we become what we eat and drink – will we allow Love to be made Perfect in us by the Holy Spirit, the wellspring of Divine Love welling up in the Cave of our hearts? 

Will we  build together in the Spirit of Christ a community of Perfect Love, a Field Hospital Church bringing healing and safe space to the hurting? a Sacrificial Church of the Poor, for the Poor? Will we be the Prophetic Word of Perfect Love that is Good News to the Poor, the outcast, the ‘stranger among us’, bringing to birth in our world a perpetual Jubilee of Freedom, Justice, Forgiveness, New Beginnings.  Will we echo in our lives this Word from the Cross – ‘It is accomplished’ – Love is Perfected! 

[4] And how can we become the echo this Perfected love to our world? By doing and being as Jesus does and is: ‘Abba, Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit!’ (Luke 23: 46). This very last Word of Jesus sums up, ‘recapitulates’ his whole life in his humanity and His eternal Being in the Divine Trinity – all that was, is and will be forever is Love abandoned into the Father’s hand and Will. He holds nothing back for Himself, all that he is, is gift received from Abba, Father, and gift returned to Abba, Father. Jesus is the Flesh of Divine Gift, total Other centred-ness. Nothing else matters, nothing else is of importance – just being Gift to the Other, to God, to Us, to God in us, to us in God. His words, ‘All I have is yours and all you have is mine and in them I am glorified’ (John 17: 10) are now fulfilled. His entire ‘High Priestly’ prayer that concludes the Last Supper in John ch 17 expresses His self-consecration to the Father’s will and His sacrifice that equally consecrates us – this is achieved in Jesus self-abandonment. In that Abandonment is the Perfection of Love, in that Abandonment is a new explosion of the Holy Spirit – this time recreating the face of the Earth – through us who are now the Body of Christ, the Christ of the contemporary 21st century world.

[5] Our journey in holiness and authentic humanity is a journey to our Abandonment into Abba, our Father’s,  hands with a love and a trust beyond all measure! It is living out our Baptism – the Baptismal commitment we make afresh at our Easter Liturgy. If we have already died in Christ and already risen in Him in our baptism then we need not fear for already we are dwelling in the eternal Life and Love of our God. We are safe in our home in the heart of God, just as God is at home in our heart. As St John Henry Newman says ‘heart speaks to heart’. Being so utterly and infinitely beloved of God we are free to give ourselves (like Mary did at the Annunciation and everyday that followed) to whatever is asked of us, whatever happens to us, because ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus’ (Roman 8: 38-39). 

Father, I abandon myself into Your Hands.
Do with me what You will, For whatever You do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all,
Let only Your will be done in me
And I ask nothing else my Lord.
Into Your hands, I commit my spirit,
I give you myself, O Lord, with all the love of my heart,
For I love You, my God, And so need to give,
to surrender myself Into Your hands
With a love and a trust beyond all measure,
… because You are Abba! my Father!

[adapted prayer of Bl Charles de Foucauld)

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