In the work Jesus brought to completion on the Cross, our work begins
Recently, my pastor, who spent much of his priesthood in rural parishes, described a moment of accomplishment and anticipation: when a farmer, after plowing and planting, looks out over the field and says, “Done,” as he watches the crop grow.
That word “done” has the same root in ancient Greek, “Tetelestai, ” as the final word of Jesus, commonly translated, “It is finished.” Although Tetelestai is often interpreted as an accounting term meaning “paid in full” – meaning that Jesus wiped out the debt of our sins – it can also mean, “I’ve completed exactly what I set out to do.
Like the farmer who worked hard plowing and planting, Jesus spent three years preaching and teaching, preparing his disciples to take up his work when he returned to the Father.
The Crucifixion brought all of that work to fruition and was the ultimate lesson to his disciples. They, too, must be prepared to hand over everything, including their lives, in spreading the Good News.
And so must we.
There’s great comfort in the gospel of Jesus: that we have a God who loves each of us so much that He was willing to sacrifice himself so that we might have life eternal. But that comfort comes at a cost: persecution, suffering, and our own cross to carry. Being a Christian doesn’t shield us from those things in this life. Instead, it reorients our perception so that we recognize that this life is only transitory, and that the next life is what’s really important.
Like the pearl of great price or the treasure buried in the field. eternal life is so fundamental to who we are that we must be prepared to sacrifice all.
Our job as Christians is to recognize that our life on this earth is fleeting, but to live it in such a way as to be worthy of our heavenly home in the next life. One way to remind ourselves of the shortness of our own lives is to focus on the passion of Jesus, either meditating on it in our prayer or during Mass. In order to live our call, we need to pray frequently and take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we stumble.
Sometimes we don’t have to be reminded of the sufferings of Jesus. Sometimes we have our own sufferings, our own crosses to carry. In those moments, we can lift up our sufferings and work through them in solidarity with Jesus.
Another part of our call is to be witnesses, to attract as many friends and neighbors as we can to this way of life. Attracting others means genuinely and humbly living a Christian life in a way that makes others want what we have.
Peter says in his first letter, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” (1 Peter 3:15) That’s our call, as well.
Demonstrating genuine hope among a population that has grown increasingly cynical. Enduring redemptive suffering in a culture that is often focused on immediate self-gratification. Detachment from the things of this world when materialism and conspicuous consumption are the norm. These are countercultural signs. They’re not easy, but they’re what we’re called to as Christians.
Share your joy with others, patiently accept suffering when it comes, never give up hope, and you will continue to carry out the work that Jesus brought to fruition on the cross.