Today, we commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. But today, we must also remember that there are many others who have suffered the same persecution and crucifixion. Those who have truly followed the way he has lived: taking the side of the poor and challenging those who abuse power and turn a deaf ear to those who need God the most, suffer the same fate. I no longer believe that a father would make his son suffer for the sins of the world. I can only believe that one who truly seeks to be a child of God would live his life in such a way that others may live with dignity. Jesus lived for those who need God the most. And Jesus was killed because he lived for those who need God the most. Today, as I reflect on what Jesus meant when he said, “It is finished,” I believe it is a declaration of having done his part in creating the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. But it is not finished yet, is it? Whenever we see children hungry and dirty; send another mother or father, sister or brother, to work like a slave in another country; see farmers asking for land to till; hear stories of women, indigenous peoples and homosexuals being marginalized and abused – we must know that the work of God and the Christ we follow is not finished. There is work to be done and we must continue it.
In the movie “the Last Temptation of Christ,” when Jesus was crucified and was suffering, a girl came to the foot of the cross and said, “You have suffered enough, Jesus. God does not want you to be in pain. If you wish it, you can come down from the cross and leave all this pain and suffering behind.” And so Jesus comes down from the cross. He marries and fathers several children. He lives a relaxed existence. There was even a scene where Jesus was sitted under a coconut tree, drunk and bored. He got old and at his deathbed, Jerusalem was burning and under siege. At this point in the movie, the disciples come into his room and expressed love for the messiah. They said, “We have been looking for you for a long time, Master. Where did you go?” But Judas has different tone. He says angrily to Jesus, “Traitor! You said you will die for our people.You abandoned us in our struggle for freedom. Look at you now, your death will mean nothing!” Jesus pointed to the young girl saying, “She said God does not want me to suffer.” To which Judas replied, “She is the devil!” And Jesus realized that he had been fooled and he had turned his back on his people and God. In the next scene, Jesus crawls to a hill and calls out to God, “Let me be your son again! Forgive me for turning my back on what you have called me to do.” Then, Jesus snaps out from the dream and finds himself crucified on the cross. His last words were, “It is finished.”
This was Jesus’s greatest and last temptation – to seek the good and comfortable life instead of living his life so that others may live. This is our temptation, too. Jesus’ work was finished. It was finished when he breathed his last breath. We breathe and live still. For us, it is not finished. Let us take up our crosses and follow him. Amen.
Photo courtesy of Project Pearls