It is finished.
The sixth word from the cross.
I wasn’t planning on focusing on the Crucifixion this morning. It is the Solemnity of Mary and I was all about focusing on her.
I was re-energized to pray the Rosary at last night’s Mass. I had fallen away from the habit recently, but the Rosary is what got me here on my journey. It was the first prayer I prayed, and it brought me joy, compassion and understanding. Grace. And now, as I am searching for that Joy to fill me once again, it seems the natural place to go. To Christ through Mary.
So this morning I settled in. I was a little disappointed when I realized I’d be focusing on the Sorrowful Mysteries. Sorrowful mysteries are, well, sad. And my heart was set on Joyful. As I neared the end, I realized that there was no reference in the Scriptural Rosary I was referencing to the sixth Word from the cross. “It is finished“, and I missed it terribly. I went back three times to check. “Father forgive them. . .” was there. “Today you will be with me in Paradise” was there. “Behold your son”. “I thirst” “My God, my God Why have you forsaken me.” and “into your hands I commend my spirit.” All there. It is finished, Not there.
Richard John Neuhaus has an utterly amazing discussion on this sixth Word in his book, Death on a Friday Afternoon.
He sees it not as an end, but as an achievement — like an artist putting the finishing touched on a masterpiece. It is complete, not over. The masterpiece begins a new life as a thing of beauty – outside of the artist for all the world to see.
He also sees it as something that has been decided, claimed with certainty. And that something includes the human project.
“The human project cannot fail because God has invested himself in it. It is finished does not mean that suffering and loss and the rivers of tears are things of the past. It is finished means that they do not have the last word. Love has the last word. “
To do Neuhaus justice, I would have to quote his whole book. Neuhaus was truly, truly blessed by God
But here’s the thing. In thinking through It Is Finished, started with Mary. Quite literally for me this morning in prayer, and, universally, with her “yes” that set it all in motion. Her love brought The Love that through His completion, His perfection, His sorrow — and the sorrow of the world, ensured Love has the last word.
To Christ through Mary.