It is from the cross – after six hours of public humiliation, mental anguish, emotional turmoil, and excruciating physical pain – that Jesus declares his victory: “It is finished!” This is certainly a strange victory revealed in a strange place and at a strange time. How could it possibly be that the Crucified One is triumphant – even victorious?
Jesus’ final words reflected the course of his entire life. These eight words were directed to God as a final witness of Jesus’ life and ministry: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” What will your last words be? What will they reveal about your life – your values, your beliefs? How would you summarize your life in the space afforded by dying gasps?
Had Jesus desired to do so, he could have satisfied his physical thirst. However, Jesus’ desire for water, for relief from his pain, was not as great as his desire to redeem humankind. In other words, Jesus’ thirst for us trumped his thirst for water. “I thirst” is not simply identification with human pain, but an expression of God’s passion for humanity’s redemption.
Faith does not come without a fight. Hope is empty apart from hardships. Love without lament is superficial. We should never imagine that we can have a deep intimate relationship with God without all the doubts, frustrations, and complaints that accompany an authentic relationship – substituting “pious froth” for “fighting the good fight of faith.”
The metaphor of family is applied to the entire life and mission of the faith community. It speaks of a shared commitment, mutual responsibility, and common identity. In our self-absorbed, fragmented culture, we need this metaphor to expand the horizon of our care and compassion. After all, most of us would do anything for our families.