'It is finished'

We begin by entering into a bodily and mental stillness that helps us become aware of God’s presence within and around us.

Let whatever is on your mind today come to consciousness…

How do you feel within your body? Perhaps you are aware of a level of tension, or of some stiffness, tiredness or pain… or perhaps you feel quite relaxed. Just sit for a while with whatever you notice…

The end of Jesus’ life is described in John’s Gospel in one brief sentence: he drinks the vinegar, speaks three words and lets go into death. His final cry, ‘It is finished’ could be interpreted as an admission of defeat, ‘it’s over’. But it could also be understood as a cry of victory, ‘it’s accomplished – I’ve done it!’ How do you hear his words?

In his famous poem about the journey of the Magi, the poet Eliot has one of the wise men ask himself if they had travelled to witness a birth or a death. For him the event in Bethlehem was both birth and death. Jesus’ death on the Cross carries can be seen in the same way. Jesus dies, but from his broken body is born the Church, his living body on earth. How do you experience this moment of Jesus’ death?

We listen now to a read from John’s Gospel, chapter 11, verses 20-33:

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.

Jesus weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus. He proclaims himself the resurrection and the life, yet he still feels the pain of loss and separation. He experiences that same loss to the bitter end in his own death. He even gives his mother into another’s care. He is utterly alone as he dies, feeling the full impact of his life’s end. ‘It’s finished’ – but what is finished? Is this the end or is it a new beginning?

The world’s great artists have depicted those who stood at the foot of the cross as Jesus died: Mary his mother, the beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene, the Roman soldier, the Jewish authorities, the mocking crowd. Where do you find yourself in this scene? What thoughts are in your heart right now?

You have given all to me
To you Lord, I return it
Everything is Yours
Do with it what you will
Give me only your love and your grace
That, is enough for me.

6. 'It is finished'
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