Friday, April 22, 2011
Good Friday- “It is Finished”
The last words of Jesus on the cross is, “It is finished” (John 19:30). In the original Greek, it is only one word: tetelestai. What is the meaning of tetelestai “?
In a recent excavation in the Holy Land, some archaeologists discovered an office of a tax collector. It was a rare discovery because the entire office was almost intact – tables, books, records and everything. They found piles of tax records and the word, tetelestai, on top of some of them. Those were the records of those who “paid in full.” These people have already paid everything they owed.
When Jesus said, “tetelestai”, “It is finished,” he refers to a debt that has been paid in full. We must remember that Jesus has always referred to sins as debts to God that must be paid. This was the prevailing notion among Jews at that time. In the prayer that he taught us, Jesus used this term in business: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” In the parable of the unforgiving servant, the master forgave the huge debts of the servant. But that same servant did not forgive the small debt of his fellow servant. Jesus taught us the lesson that God has forgiven our sins, and so we must also learn to forgive each other. So on the cross he says tetelestai, “It is paid in full.” Our sins have been completely forgiven. It is finished. He has accomplished his mission.
On this Good Friday, we remember the death of Jesus on the cross. We express our sorrow today, mainly because it was our sins that brought him to this horrible death. But at the same time, we also express our joy, because it is precisely his death that gave us victory and freedom from sin. He has paid in full all our debts to God. That is why every Sunday we come together to offer the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We make present once again the one eternal sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And our hearts are filled with joy of being forgiven of our sins, our debts totally cancelled. Hence, the Mass is called Eucharist – thanksgiving.
What should be our resolutions? Now that Jesus has fully paid our debts to God, let us not go on accumulating debts again. Let us not go back to sin again. Every time we look at the image of Jesus on the cross, we should shudder at the thought of committing sins again.
And secondly, let us resolve to come to Mass as often as we can, with full devotion, love and gratitude to God. Not only are our debts cancelled, not only are our sins forgiven, but we also are given new dignity, new beginning, and new life.
May God grant us truly contrite hearts, and may He always filled our lives with songs of thanksgiving now and for eternity. Amen!
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Teresa Church
New York, NY 10002