Friday, April 22, 2011

Reflection: "Father, into your hands..."

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

Again, Christ calls out to His Father.  His final words from the cross mirror His first.

This last word of Jesus illuminates the touchstone of existence: the love between the Father and the Son.  Everything has been about this loving relationship, for it is out of this love that everything came into existence.  Every angel's song and infant's murmur, every whisper shared between husband and wife, every cry of delight; every sound of rejoicing owes its existence to the Word of God, and that Word is Love.

What is happening here?  Christ has already given over His entire earthly life to the Father's will; He has done everything in accordance with it.  What more is there to give?  His spirit.  His soul.  The immortal part of His being.  The love He shares with the Father motivates His final act: giving over the totality of Himself to the Father.

This is the ultimate example of love.  He is crushed, despised, tortured, and killed, and in the midst of His agony, He thinks not of Himself, but of us, and of His Father.  His focus is always turned outward.  He gives and gives, and when the world thinks He is spent, He gives one last time.  Of course the world does not recognize the gift, for the gift of the spirit is not of the world.

This is the love to which we are called: to be willing to give everything for others.  Every breath, every ache, every word; to give our lives to others.  This is the message of the cross, that love really does demand, "my life, my soul, my all."  To stop short of that is to fail to love.  Christ did not fail, and, in His victory, we are saved.

So, we must give everything over to Christ, who gives everything over to the Father.  Where does that leave us?  In the tomb, with Christ.  But not forever.  Just as Christ rose from the dead, so too will we be raised in Him.  In all of our giving to Christ, we must not forget that He is the gift given to us by the Father.  We give ourselves to God, and He gives Himself to us.  What does God really gain in this exchange?  Our love, for that is what He most wants.  What do we gain?  Forgiveness and new life, for that is what we most need.

We can step out of ourselves and into Christ at any moment.  We can be swept up in that new life at any time.  All it takes is the choice to give up control to God.  All it takes is the trust to commend our lives into His hands.  No longer will we be burdened by the tedious and deadly whims of our fallen nature.  God will give us a new nature, one subsumed in His own divine love.  If we give up what we call freedom to do His will, we will discover that, in doing His will, we become truly free.  He will completely satisfy us.  He will make us truly happy.

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."  For those words to be true should be the goal of every moment of our lives.

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