Saturday, April 7, 2012

"It Is Finished"

I do not trust myself. I trust Jesus. Jesus I trust in You. Jesus, save me. Jesus, draw me to Yourself. Jesus, convert me, change what needs changing in me, penetrate the depths of my weakness, heal me and raise me up.

At the center of the event of our redemption there is an ineffable mystery. The grace of the Cross is something we receive in faith, hope, and love. It reaches us in our misery and transforms us from within. And the Cross makes it clear that Jesus has truly loved every human person, from the foundation of the world until the end of time. Somehow, this love makes itself present, in all of its greatness and ineffable generosity, to the freedom of every person.

What a blessing and what a responsibility it is to be entrusted with the task of bearing witness to this love, of offering ourselves in union with it, of praying to the Father that His mercy will prevail, that the human person will say "yes" to this love: For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. He seeks our hearts, and no sin--no matter how horrible--is beyond His reach. Let us say "yes" to Him, trust in Him, and pray that His saving love will break through and change the hearts of others. Let us struggle to make Him known and loved by those He has entrusted to us, and by those He wills us to seek out in the circumstances of our lives. Let us not be afraid of all the opposition of the world, for He has overcome the world. Never give up.

In his unforgettable Apostolic Letter On Human Suffering (1984), Blessed John Paul II goes to the very heart of the redemption, not to explain it but to set it forth in all of its mystery and glory. On Holy Saturday, as we feel with special keenness the whole Paschal Mystery, this stunning passage (from section 18) is worth citing at length, and worth reading:
Jesus's words "attest to this unique and incomparable depth and intensity of suffering which only the man who is the only-begotten Son could experience.... Not of course completely (for this we would have to penetrate the divine-human mystery of the subject), but at least they help us to understand that difference (and at the same time the similarity) which exists between every possible form of human suffering and the suffering of the God-man.... When Christ says: "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?", his words are not only an expression of that abandonment which many times found expression in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms and in particular in that Psalm 22 from which come the words quoted. One can say that these words on abandonment are born at the level of that inseparable union of the Son with the Father, and are born because the Father "laid on him the iniquity of us all". They also foreshadow the words of Saint Paul: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin". Together with this horrible weight, encompassing the "entire" evil of the turning away from God which is contained in sin, Christ, through the divine depth of his filial union with the Father, perceives in a humanly inexpressible way this suffering which is the separation, the rejection by the Father, the estrangement from God. But precisely through this suffering he accomplishes the Redemption, and can say as he breathes his last: "It is finished".