“It is finished,” are Christ’s words from the cross just before He “bowed his head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). What is finished? On Good Friday the old creation, of sin and separation from God, has ended, is finished, and a new creation has dawned. God so loved the world that he sent his Only-Begotten Son to lift up fallen humanity of all times and places, by suffering and dying for the salvation of the human race. Jesus became one of us, suffering in His body rejection, mockery, scourging and crucifixion in order to unite fallen human nature to the God who made us.

Christ was taken down from the cross, lifeless and dead, placed in a tomb, yet destined to rise triumphant on the day of resurrection three days later. How can God die? How can this death save us from death?

God is a God of mystery, Scripture tells us, as for example, in Isaiah 45:15 where we hear: “Truly, you are a God who hides himself.” Our God is hidden, yet present, a God of infinite and eternal power, of goodness without measure and of wisdom beyond telling. We humans can barely grasp the depths of God’s goodness and love, but pondering these beliefs, we catch a glimpse of the wonderful things God intends for us, even by means of the death of the Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world.

The intention is clear: God desires to unite everyone to Himself and to draw all into the fullness and life and love under God’s provident care. Our call is clear: to let God take possession of our lives, our words and deeds, that we may prefer nothing whatever to Christ who in fact preferred nothing whatever to us in the shedding of His blood on the cross.

On Good Friday Christ our God completed his mission. At His crucifixion Jesus handed over His spirit on the cross. God’s Holy Spirit likewise renewed the face of the earth at Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Christ, and the same Holy Spirit continues to breathe and move in the Church and in individual lives. If the Spirit of Christ is within us, we too can overcome the chains of death by rising in Christ, the Holy Redeemer.

We may ask: why did Christ have to die? By undergoing death like all of us, Christ was capable of bringing to our mortal flesh immortality, that is, a life that can never die.

As we contemplate Christ crucified today and every day, our hearts are filled with hope. Christ conquered death once and for all, and though sooner or later we will all face the completion of our earthly existence, our life will change, not end, at the moment of death. This is our firm hope and belief as followers of the crucified and risen Christ.

Our God, who made the heavens and the earth, who formed the human race and all that the world contains, is the beginning and the end, the origin and goal of our lives. In the midst of this is the Word of God, Christ the Redeemer, leader of a new and redeemed humanity, a renewed creation. This same Jesus Christ reveals to us the mystery of life in the Holy Trinity, and the gift of resurrected life that is extended to all of us here and to the whole world.

Do we accept God’s gift or shy away from it, putting it off until another time? In fact Christ is calling out to us: “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts,” (Psalm 94(95):7), which we monks chant each day at the beginning of Vigils, our first prayer in common.

“For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ,” Saint Paul proclaimed in First Corinthians, chapter 15 verse 22. This means we are entrusted with carrying out the mission of proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ by our words and actions. Today we are being called to this work once again, believing God’s Holy Spirit is present and will continue to inspire us.

May the paschal mystery of the death and rising of the Lord take deep root in our lives and be a reality we not just talk about, but put into action each and every day. May the Holy Spirit, which Jesus poured out, be in us, producing fruit that will last, the fruit of love and self-sacrifice, carried out in the hope that we too will rise from the dead.

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB