Is That All There Is? ~ Br. Chip Noon

Transitions are often hard to live through, aren’t they?

Today we celebrate probably one of the toughest transitions that human beings had to suffer: The Ascension of our Lord. I remember as a kid thinking about this day, and feeling with the disciples, that they had really lost a great friend and source of strength. I also imagined myself in their place and staring up into the sky, looking into the clouds. One of my personal traumas as a child was watching my father storm out of the house when he was angry. So I acutely identified with the disciples on this day.

Now today our family is going through a particularly poignant transition. We have been told by my mother-in-law’s nursing home staff, and by our own observations, that she is in the last stage of her life. She is 93 and has been bedridden for the past nine months. She has also prayed every day for God to take her home. Particularly heart-wrenching prayers to accompany her physical sufferings.

But what did Jesus tell us, over and over, about times like this? He said that this is not all there is, didn’t he? Even as he was ascending, he promised that the disciples would receive some gift in the future. The gift of the power of the Holy Spirit.

And yet, even at these last moments, his disciples continued to show that somehow, they were not really getting the message. “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority…”

But as we watch Irene in her nursing home bed, I sense around the room a true feeling for her that this is not all there is. Yes, there is sadness and anxiety, but as her oldest daughter said, “I think Mom is continuing on the path to her new life.”

You see, time and again in these days after Easter we hear Jesus telling us, “I am with you always, until the end of the world.” It is in today’s Alleluia. It is in the 2nd Reading: “…the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.” It is in the 1st Reading: “This Jesus…will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” The Promise. The Prize. The knowledge that while we may suffer today, mourn today, and weep today, that is not all there is.

Yes, Jesus had to tell his disciples many times, sometimes in exasperation, that his kingdom is not of this earth, but also that his kingdom is indeed all around us. Again, this sounds like a Zen koan, “the identity of opposites” as the Buddhist monk and teacher says.

But that is what I was seeing in Irene’s room…her children and grandchildren recognizing that while their parent and grandparent was lying peacefully in bed, there was the realization that this mortal coil was unwinding to a grander and incomprehensible shape.

And that’s what Jesus was telling his apostles. Don’t worry, I may be physically gone, but all that I have taught you will finally be made clear through the power of the holy spirit.

Now I suppose that these people who had close daily contact with the person of Jesus, whom most of them could barely understand, would need an overt presentation of this comforting concept by the physical descent of the Holy Spirit. But we, who have been immersed in this salvation story all our lives, may just need the echoes of the Gospel, the readings, the Psalms, and the teachings of our ministers.

That’s what was in Irene’s room, at least for many of us. We could see her slowly slipping away from us, yes. But the thought was expressed – and silent – that she was going to the promised land and would soon be rid of her constant physical torments.

One final thought for today. This isn’t just a holy story out of our Bible and preachers’ mouths. This is much more. This is a call from Jesus show to the next generation, and those around us, that there is more to come than anything we could expect. “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

There it is.

Yes, the kingdom is at hand. There is more than our physical senses. There is something beyond what we know and see every day. So let’s rejoice! Let’s sing and dance! Let’s laugh and cry with joyful expectation.

But mark my words, let’s all go out and tell the whole world this story. It doesn’t belong just to us who have gotten the message. It belongs to everyone.

Go forth and proclaim the Good News!

Amen.

Father, help us to proclaim your word. Help us to share our joy. And help us to see your kingdom all around us as we profess it. And may Irene rest in peace.

Amen.

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Peace and Forgiveness ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

 

Reading 1: ACTS 15:1-2, 22-29

Responsorial Psalm: PS 67:2-3,5,6,8

Reading 2: REV 21:10-14, 22-23

Gospel: JN 14:23-29

Liturgical colour: White.

The saying of the peace been spoken in congregations such as in our church masses for thousands of years. The giving of the peace has become a ritual part of our sunday service. Before the Holy Eucharist, the priest blesses the faithful with the peace of the Lord. In many church congregations, the people shake hands at that time of the service and say, “Peace be with you.”

This is an important action, which is much more than merely the giving of a routine or friendly gesture. The giving of a sign of peace has its roots in the words of Jesus on the night before his death, and on the day of his resurrection. He wanted each to know that he was going into death and coming out again to bring us peace, and that all who share the belief in Jesus also share the common peace that our Lord gives.

The ritual of the giving of the peace of the Lord goes back to the very first Easter. Jesus appeared to His Apostles in a locked room and twice said, “Peace be with you.” He then sent them to bring peace to the world by granting the forgiveness of sin in his name. To each of us who know our sins, this greeting is a refreshing shower of the Lord’s grace.

In the early days of the Christian Church the peace was given not as a handshake, but was given as a kiss. This kiss of peace is spoken of at the end of several of the letters of the New Testament. In the early Church all who received and gave the kiss of peace then received the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In the congregation, after those who were still learning the faith were dismissed, the kiss began at the altar and was passed all the way around the church. Only those who received and gave the kiss were welcomed to the Lord’s table.

In a document called the Didascalia from the early third century A.D. it is told of a scene where the kiss of peace suddenly comes to a halt as two people refuse to kiss each other. There was a disagreement. We don’t know what the disagreement was about, but it was probably much like the kind of disagreements we have between people in our own church congregations today. The service then immediately stopped and the presiding minister left the altar and went to where the kiss was blocked. Only after reconciliation of the disagreement did the peace continue on its way around, and only then did the liturgy proceed.

This tells much about how early Christians lived in a congregation. To them the peace of God was a indeed truly a real thing, it was expected to be received by everyone, and to be shared by everyone. There was to be no withholding of forgiveness between the gathered flock. If two people would not share the peace, no one could until those two were brought together.

Does this situation bear any resemblance to our congregations today? It is well known that we have times when we are not always at peace with each other. Within our congregation there have been persons who do not even speak with one another, let alone share the peace. How many of our families have been at odds with one another? And yet week after week we come to the Lord’s table together. Do we know what we are doing? If we want the Lord’s forgiveness and peace but will not forgive our brother or sister in Christ, what can we expect to receive in return from the Lord our God? First we must be at peace with our brothers and our sisters, we need to seek their forgiveness and also to forgive them, and then we may come to the Lord to receive his pardon.

We clearly see this reflected in the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer. We ask God to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Jesus taught that we are to forgive our brother or sister not only seven times, but seven times seven times. We are always to forgive those who ask for our forgiveness. To withhold forgiveness is to decline the Lord’s forgiveness for ourselves.

During the Easter season especially, the Christian Church is filled with the peace of the Lord. His sacrificial death for our sins brings peace where there once was only guilt. The news of his resurrection spread among his friends and followers and  is remembered in the preaching of the Words of Life that ring in our ears, “He is risen!” The sight of his body, wounded but now healed and filled with glory, points to the future clothing that God will drape upon every person who is truly part of his faithful flock. It is a body that will be raised without any illness, disease, and age. Yes, the time of Easter is one of great joy and peace.

That peace must be shared among us and between us all. Wherever there is any type of division and bad feelings the peace of the Lord must replace that. We cannot truly celebrate the peace of Easter and still be holding a grudge against a fellow brother or sister. If we do, we are only imagining the peace of the Lord rather than truly receiving and giving it. We can shake a hand, we can mumble the words of peace, we can even kiss othere on the cheek, but if there is not full forgiveness in our heart, we do not have the peace that the Lord is giving.

The peace of the Lord is forever. Knowing that we have been completely forgiven by God and that he will never forsake us is powerful knowledge.

It gives strength to everything we do. It doesn’t matter if we are working, studying, raising a family, or lying in bed in a nursing home with no hope of recovery. Knowing that Jesus died and rose to give us eternal life is the most peaceful of all experiences. It gives us the strength to cope with any hardship. It calms the restless soul. It lifts the lowest spirit. It is the only true peace we can ever know in this earthly life.

So when we say the Peace at mass and give each other the sign of the peace of the Lord, are we truly doing it from the depths of our hearts and forgiving each other as Our Lord forgives us,  or are we merely doing it out of habit, or routine? Let us look deeply within ourselves to ensure we are doing it with the whole purpose with which the Lord intended.

The peace of the Lord to you all!

Hardships and Heaven ~ Br. Chip Noon

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

Today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles is from the story of Paul and Barnabas who were spreading the good news to the Gentiles. It comes directly after the end of their first mission.

One of the things they said to the disciples of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch was the quote “I started with hardships.”  In Paul’s case, one hardship was that he had just been stoned in Lystra, a town in the center of what is now Turkey. Stoned! And still Paul and Barnabas believed in Jesus and continued to spread the good news, even with the wounds of the stoning.

Let us put ourselves in Paul’s place. A stone is thrown at us and hits us in the arm. Then another in the stomach. As we curl up and turn our backs, more stones are thrown and strike us in the back, buttocks, and legs. And eventually one or more hit us in the head. I have a lot of trouble imagining that. I have never had that kind of beating. But it had to be brutal, since the people stoning him thought Paul was dead, so they dragged him out of the city.

But Paul got up when the disciples gathered around him. He got up!

I don’t know about you, but I’m felled by a cold, in agony over a stubbed toe, laid low by spinal stenosis. Yet Paul was almost stoned to death! I cannot even imagine what he went through. Or what Jesus went through during his passion.

And in the Second Reading, I find what strengthened Paul. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be nor more death or mourning, wailing or pain.” Paul was not living in this world. He was living the world of Heaven, the world of God because the new Jerusalem had already come down to him.

This past week I went to one of my physical therapy sessions. The pain of spinal stenosis I mentioned before has got me in its grasp. And the therapist said to me, “You can’t give in to it. You must move on. You can’t get down because of the pain.”

What? My physical therapist is preaching the Gospel to me! “You can’t get down.” Is that how Paul was handling his pain? He was living in the new Jerusalem. He was spreading the good news. He was loving the people as Jesus had loved him. If Paul is living like that, does he have room to consider the pain? Does he have time to worry about his back? Or the slashes in his skull? Or the bruising of his legs?

“For the old order has passed away.” The “old order.” And Paul and Barnabas have moved on. As Mark says: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” And if I may be a little more up to date, as Jimmy Dugan says to Evelyn in the movie A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying. There’s no crying in baseball!”

We are not taught that once we become Christians there will be no more pain. Of course, there is pain. This is the world. But we can live in this world, or, as Paul did, we can live in the new Jerusalem. But believe me, I can talk about that, recommend that, suggest that, preach that…but ask me if I have found the open gate to the new Jerusalem. Go ahead, ask. I ask myself that every day.

The answer is no, I haven’t. But I can see it. I can almost feel it. No more death or mourning, wailing or pain. It takes that step through the gate, and try as I might, my feet stumble.

But I have God to lean on, and my patron saints to pray for me, and my community to say to me, You must move on.” I can taste it. I can smell it. I can almost feel it. I can remember what Jesus told us, “I have loved you.” And in the loving of others, I can knock on the gate and be sure that eventually it will be opened to me.

So the answer? I can try to be “not of this world.” I can watch the new Jerusalem constantly coming down to earth, to replace earth, to offer us the way of God. I can work every day to remember that there is no crying in baseball.

Brothers and sisters, as I look into your eyes, I can see a new heaven and a new earth. Talk to me of your love.

Lord, let us continue to look above and move forward, shaking the dust off our sandals and stepping into your glory.

Amen.

The Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles, The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Liturgical colour: Red.

Reading 1:1 COR 15:1-8

Responsorial Psalm:PS 19:2-3, 4-5

Gospel:JN 14:6-14

My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate the feast of not just one, but two of Christ’s Twelve Apostles, these being, St. Philip and St. James. Both of  these Apostles worked tirelessly for the sake of the people of God, and just as the other Apostles had done, they spread the Good News to many.

St. Philip is also known as Nathanael, he was a learned and a wise man of Israel. He was told he needed to be fluent in Greek, and eventually he went on to preach about the Lord and His truth in regions of Greece and of Roman Asia, he went from city to city, preaching to the masses and he gained for the Church many new converts and members.

St. Philip even managed to convert the wife of the proconsul of a region where he ministered, by his miracles and from his preaching. The proconsul was enraged and ordered St. Philip to be arrested, and he together with the other Apostle, St. Bartholomew, and other disciples were crucified upside down. And  St. Philip preached to the crowd gathering there from his execution cross, in such a way, that they wanted to release him, but St. Philip refused to allow this.

The other Apostle which we celebrate today, St. James the Greater, was the brother of St. John the Apostle,  a fisherman along the Lake of Galilee, whom Jesus called together with His other Apostles, St. Peter, St. Andrew and St. John his brother. St. James played an important role in the early Church, spreading the Good News of God’s salvation after Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven.

St. James went to preach the Good News to faraway regions such as the province of Iberia in what today we know as the country of Spain, where he spread the Gospel to the people there and helped to establish the Church far from its origins in Jerusalem. He was  renowned especially in the region known as Santiago de Compostela, where his body lies buried, because it was there where he apparently did his works of evangelisation.

king Herod arrested St. James when he returned to the Holy Land, and in order to please the Jewish authorities, the Pharisees and the chief priests, had him executed. St. James was among the first of the Apostles to meet his end on earth through martyrdom.

The tireless works and commitment to the salvation of mankind of St. James and St. Philip can still be felt as making an impact even today. Like these Apostles of the Lord, we  need more and more people who are willing to commit themselves to the Lord’s  service, and to walk in His path just as these two Apostles did.

Truly, it will not be an easy task for us, as there is worldly opposition against all those who are faithful in the Lord’s service and who keep their faith. But Jesus reminds us yet again in the Gospel, that we who believe in Him, have seen the Lord Himself through Jesus, and by our faith in Him, we have been justified. And because we know the Lord, we will also be obedient to Him, we would be blessed and saved.

During the last remaining part of the season of Eastertide,  let us reflect on our own lives, and on how we have acted in our lives so far. Have we been fully committed to our Lord, and have we been truly faithful to Him? Can we call truly ourselves Christians? Do we not only believe in the Lord through our mere words, but also through our actions?

The examples of the  lives and service of the Apostles St. Philip and St. James show us that there are still many things that we can do as the followers of Christ in order to fulfil the commands which our Lord has given us, within our lives in His service.  Both these Apostles served with tireless zeal and with vigour, and despite the challenges and the difficulties that faced them, these did not prevent them from carrying out the missions which the Lord had entrusted to them.

Let us all therefore look forward, and as we soon will celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, let us all recommit ourselves, and rediscover the true gifts of the Holy Spirit which have been given to us, and to make use of these gifts in order to help those who are still in darkness, by showing them the love of God manifested through each and every one of us as the faithful servants of our Lord, so that more and more souls may see the light of God and be saved.

 

 

 

 

Divine Mercy Sunday ~ Fr. Shawn Gisewhite, OPI

Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. If you have listened carefully to the prayers and readings, you will realize why the Second Sunday of Easter has that title. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of Mercy.” In the Psalm we repeated several times, “His mercy endures forever.” Besides mentioning the word, our readings illustrate mercy in action. But before going into the Scripture lessons, we need to ask this question: What does “mercy” mean?

To understanding the meaning of mercy, it will help if we examine its etymology. Our English word, mercy, goes back to the Latin: misericordia, which is composed of two words. “Cordia” is familiar to us from such words as “cardiologist” and “cardiac.” It means heart. The first part, “miseri” refers to suffering. Mercy, then, means to have a heart for those who suffer or, more precisely, to have a heart willing to suffer for others.

Today’s readings reveal that kind of heart in Christ and in his followers. When Jesus appeared to his disciples that first Easter, he said, “Peace be with you.” As you can imagine, that greeting meant more than “hello” or “good morning.” Jesus, in fact, desired to communicate to them something of great value. The peace which Jesus won for us had cost him his blood, his very life. What that peace involved, Jesus tells us clearly: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them…” To his apostles Jesus communicates the Holy Spirit with the power to free men from their sins. That freedom or absolution comes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

From the Acts of the Apostles we glimpse mercy in action. The early Christians were so filled with the Holy Spirit that “no one claimed any of his possessions as his own.” Rather, they “distributed to each according to his need.” It was not Karl Marx who invented the principle: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Marx lifted it from the New Testament, but made the mistake of thinking that it could happen by political coercion. His followers created a human inferno, but their failure should not cause us to reject the ideal. Part of mercy involves the effort to provide every human being with access to this world’s blessings.

The reading from Acts, then, calls our attention to the corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and so on. St. John’s letter, on the other hand, focuses on what are called the spiritual works of mercy such as: convert the sinner, counsel the doubtful and bear wrongs patiently. By doing those things we fulfill Christ’s commandments and help to extend his victory. “Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.”

Ultimately mercy results not so much from human effort as from God’s free gift. As Shakespeare said, “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.” During this time of Easter, we ask God to open our hearts so that we might receive into our hearts his Mercy – his Holy Spirit.

Easter Math…Christ Is Risen ~ The Rt. Rev. Jay Van Lieshout, OPI

Greetings my brothers and sisters on this day of our Lord’s breaking of the bonds of death and resurrection.  Christ is Risen!

Yes, the Lord is risen indeed!

It seems as if it was just yesterday that we donned our sack cloth and inscribed on our foreheads a reminder of our own mortality; that ashen cross which reminds humanity that the Creator fashioned each of us from star dust and by the grace of the Holy Spirit’s breath we came into being.  Then, just as the ashes were place on our heads, they began to fade with the day’s toil; so, too, do our lives slowly fade away under the wear of our trials and tribulations till we once again return to the dust from which we were created.  But it is not just our lives which suffer such attenuation, the weight of our transgressions and the trespasses of others slowly eat away at our souls, a process which can lead the greatest and least among us to an inevitable spiritual death. But today we rejoice as the sting all death is eradicated, the tight fetters are loosed, the ashes of our sins have been washed away, and our souls set free from captivity!

From Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, I have preached about how the ashen cross is not just a reminder of our human mortality, it is an open invitation to the Heavenly Banquet which bears the our Lord’s charge bring with us a guest, a “+1” if you will.  It is not merely enough to show up to the feast, even if we bring gifts of finest gold, frankincense and myrrh.  No, we are called to gather those who may not have received the invite, those who feel unworthy or unwelcome, the ostracized, the poor, the hungry, the dirty, the abandoned and lost, for as St. Lawrence taught us, these as the true treasures of Christ’s church!

It is basic ecclesiastical math.  The Creator has made each of us a single an unique creation, a gift brought forth from the Earth; therefore each of us begins as the Creator’s “+1”.  By the nature of our imperfections, our lives slowly ebb away, a fraction here and a jot there, the sum of which adds up to negative one “-1”. Every child knows that subtracting 1 from 1 results in zero, the null number (+1-1=0).  Each human lives this life equation, we come to earth in birth and eventually are place in the null set tomb of death.

It grieves me so that for many of our brothers and sisters, the same withering and eventual emptiness plagues their spiritual life as well; they are born, soul brightly burning in the image of the Creator’s endless love, the travails of life choke this flame with the ashes of remorse and regret, while others, because of their own imperfections and darkness in heart, seek to further suppress or extinguish the light of those around them in hopes that this might make their light seem brighter.  The final outcome are our brothers and sisters who feel as if they are worthless; like the proverbial  number zero, they represent nothing and have no value, the light of God’s love has been replaced by endless sorry and darkness.

On this day of our Lord’s Resurrection, I tell you my brothers and sisters, God’s light can NOT be extinguished but only hidden.  God has not and will NEVER abandon any of us, we have just been blinded to the truth by the wickedness of others!

The grace, compassion and love of our Creator has no limit. Our cries have been heard.  In one benevolent act of mercy, the world received the ultimate gift of the Son of Man; the perfect “+1” born to bring the light  of truth back into the world, the “+1” who brings the scriptures to fruition , the one who came to deliver us a from the oppressive bonds of our sins and the Good News to all of humanity.  And this man, Yeshua, this manna come down from heaven, allowed Himself to be tempted, pursued, betrayed, imprisoned, whipped, weighed down with the burden of His sentence, mocked, reviled, stripped, tortured and ultimately succumbed to death in order that He might serve as the atoning sacrifice for all our sins.  Yes, like all humans, Jesus carried out the full life equation from beginning to the end, from alpha to omega, birth to death, womb to tomb: +1-1=0 for each and every one of us.

Yet Jesus was no ordinary man, He was the Creator’s Son, the Christ, and our Creator lives and not even the bands of death can hold the Son!  In three days the great mystery unfolded: Christ has died and Christ has risen and we know He will come to each of us again!  On this Holy Easter and on every Sunday we celebrate Christ’s rewriting of the life equation.  The stone blocking the entrance to the tomb has been rolled away, the shackles of spiritual death are broken and so our sack cloth of mourning is replaced with the finest white linen of rejoicing.  The Son of Man has erased the debt cause by our transgressions and now our souls have been resurrected our spiritual light shines in brilliant reflection of His Victory over death!  By the “+1” of His life and the “-1” His death on the cross we have been forgiven.  By His Resurrection the zero is broke open, spiritual emptiness and death has been overcome, and an infinite amount Grace and a limitless number of “+1” places at the banquet table have sprung forth.  No longer is the cross to be a symbol of suffering and pain, it is now an emblem of God’s invitation to boundless grace and mercy; not a reminder of what we have committed but of all that He has forgiven!

At the start of Lent we were inscribed with a cross of ashes on our foreheads to remind us that we are all born out of dust and no matter how rich or how powerful, to dust we all will return.  Now we are called to wear this this emblem as an outward sign to others, an invitation to take our hand so that we might lift others up out of the dust, a promise to untie the bonds of injustice, a light to guide others safely around the pitfalls of life, a commitment to feed our brothers and sisters who are hungry, clothe them when they are naked, and comfort them when they are alone or grieving.  This cross we bear is no longer a reminder of our mortal shortcomings, it is the invitation Christ has extended to all humanity to  attend the Heavenly banquet, the gift of His Resurrection emblazoned on us so that we may always be an invitation to all those we meet to be our “+1”.

It Is Finished ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: IS 52:13—53:12

Responsorial Psalm: PS 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

Reading 2: HEB 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Gospel: JN 18:1—19:42

Liturgical colour: Red.

Roman crucifixion was designed to produce a slow, agonizing death. It involved as much suffering and shame as possible. This excruciating form of public execution was bloody, violent and extremely repulsive.  The Jews believed if you were crucified, you were under God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:23).  It was on a Roman cross that Our dear Lord Jesus, who knew no sin, bore the sacrificial price for all of our sin.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus was repeatedly mocked, he was spat upon and he was flogged. His body was beaten so severely, He was hardly recognizable. Soldiers stripped Him and led Him outside the city to die a criminal’s death.  While on the cross, passersby hurled insults at Him. The religious leaders taunted Him as they attacked His power to save. Even the two thieves who were being crucified beside Him heaped insults on Jesus.

For a short while, I want you to think about what Jesus has done for us all through his death on the cross. Visualise in our minds our suffering Saviour. Think about the love that God has for each and every one of us, and offer him our profound and sincere thanks. Let us each ask God to wrap us tightly in his love – forgiving us, watching over us, guiding us. If anyone feels that Jesus and his love for them are not real for a large part of their life, simply ask for his help, he will always answer your call.

Jesus died on the cross to get rid of the power of sin that condemned us. His death bridged the deep gulf between God and us. “It is finished”, Jesus cried.  But by saying this, Jesus didn’t mean he was finished? NO! He is now sat at the Right hand of God the Father, and will come again in Glory to judge the living and the dead. By Jesus’s  statement of “It is finished!”, Our Lord meant that the restoration of the friendship between God and humanity had been finished. The task for which God’s Son came to earth had been completed.

He has won forgiveness and  the possibility salvation for all people.

Nothing else needed to be done.

Salvation is complete. “It is finished”.

We call today “Good Friday”. It certainly was the farthest from being a good day for Our Lord Jesus. He endured excruciating pain, soul-wrenching agony, hanging by the nails in his hands, feet and side for hours, death on that rough wooden cross, for all of our sakes. We call today “Good Friday” because the cross is sure and definite proof of the powerful and ultimate love that God has for each of us. Here we see a love that was prepared to endure the ultimate in order to rescue us.

Paul writes, “God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! … We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son.” (Romans 5:8,10). That’s how much God loves us – Jesus died for us even though we don’t deserve it. His death has made us God’s children.

Jesus’ announcement, “It is finished” is clear and simple. Jesus has completed his task. The reason why he came as a human amongst us has been fulfilled. He came so that you and I can have forgiveness and salvation. He came to give us the victory over death. He came to ensure that we could enter his kingdom and live with Him forever.

Let us pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We remember today, the pain and suffering of the cross, and all that your Son, Our Lord Jesus was willing to endure, so we could be set free. He paid the price, such a great sacrifice, to offer us the gift of eternal life.

Help us never to take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us to be reminded of the price that was paid for our sin. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what your Son freely gave to fulfill your will for us, for the sacrifice that was done for us.

Amen.