Friday, April 2, 2010


When I was a boy in Quito, it was our custom on Good Friday to attend church and listen to various meditations on the Lord’s seven last words from the cross.

I still remember Pastor Limones preaching about the last one: “it is finished.”

I asked us “what did this mean? Were these words the sigh of a suffering man, relieved that his hellish ordeal was about over? Do the words refer to the redemption that He had just purchased? Was it the Old Covenant that was finished?

In Greek, the words actually refer to completion. Something had been accomplished.

What was it?

For one thing, the antidote for sin had been successfully offered, not only to humanity but to the universe itself. It was just a matter of time now before all things would heal from that wound suffered in the garden so long ago.

God had just “downloaded” Himself into the fabric of the world. The incarnation of God in Christ had now penetrated the veil between Heaven and Earth. The body of Christ, that for thirty three years had been a single human being was about to become a growing wave of redeemed persons throughout the world. The crucified body of a dying man was about to become a quickened body of millions of believers.

The dying words of the suffering Christ acknowledged that the eternal Word had entered the earth to remain until all would be utterly redeemed.

Soon, the Holy Spirit would visibly enter that Body, like tongues of fire.

A body was dying; a Body was about to be quickened.

In Hebrew, words have consonants but no vowels. The word for God YHWH (which scholars call the tetragrámmaton -- Greek for “having four letters) is connected to the Hebrew verb “to be.” That is why our Bibles translate it as something variation of, “I am who I am.” That fact is, no one is sure even how to pronounce the tetragrámmaton, much less know what it really means.

Just try to pronounce the consonants “YHWH.” What happens? What do you hear?

You just hear breath!

Think of the history of that Breath.

Moses was the first one to hear God’s name, as he was preparing to go to Egypt. There, he would confront a four hundred year old situation that seemed to have no solution. The powers against change would come from both Egyptian authorities and Jewish leaders. Slavery felt like the very laws of nature to both slave and slaveholder.

Then the Breath in the desert spoke, “I am Life and Existence!”

At the annunciation, (when the angel told Mary she would become the mother of Messiah,) the angel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you (Luke 1:35).” That’s why we confess in the Apostles' Creed that our Lord was “conceived by the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit was announcing the birth of something new and mysterious, as He often does.

When Jesus was about to go into Heaven, He took His disciples to the town of Bethany. There, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” So they did.

In the book of Revelation, St. John hears the Holy Spirit wooing creation back to its Creator. Then he listens as the Church joins her voice to that of the Holy Spirit, inviting all people everywhere to come and meet the living God.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”(Revelation 22:17)
The Holy Spirit is the voice of God; He “haunts” the deepest part of our being! He moves through the universe creating, mysteriously calling, and purposefully guiding Godward all who dare follow. He is the Divine witness within the human heart who will not let us rest until we find our rest in the Living God. With each breath we hear Him calling us.

How can we relate to such an uncontrollable, indefinable being?

But we must. We must get over our fear. We must walk with confidence toward the uncertainty the Spirit is sure to bring to our lives for it this uncertainty is an indispensable part of our joy and wonder, and of our recreation and reformation.

Knowing all of this, how could we run from the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is God untameable, indescribable, and unpredictable. He is our divine helper. He is God living within us. He is God living in and through His church. He is God guiding us through constant transformation, preparing us to live eternally in the presence of God.

We cannot afford to ignore the Holy Spirit.

However difficult to describe Him or to understand Him, Christians are called to confess: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified.”

The Lord’s final words on the cross would not really be His last words. Jesus had much more to say! In a few days, He would tell his disciples:

“Go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses.”

Oh, and then another word: “I am with you always, even to the end of the world!”

The “I AM” is with us, even to the end of the word.

That promise was made possible by the events we remember today, as the one who loved us gasped in pain, with perhaps as much of a smile as his condition would allow:


I like to think that this word means something else.

A few minutes ago, a dear friend wept as she told me about a loved one in caught in the grip of addiction so strong that it is tearing her family apart.
Behind that addiction is a dark being – our ancient foe who seeks to work us woe. His crafts and powers are great and armed with cruel hate; on earth he has no equal.”

I like to think that when Jesus groaned and spent his last measure of strength to say one final word, that he addressed that word not to human beings, nor even to the Father in Heaven. I think He said it to the Prince of Darkness Grim: “Finished! You are FINISHED. It’s just a matter of time now. “

Fire is coming to the earth. It will light the way for those who suffer and it will destroy the deeds of darkness that afflict the souls of humankind.

The Demon gloats because he does not know the secret. The Son of Man has kept it until now, revealing it with one dramatic whisper before he closes his eyes to rest for three days. He takes a labored breath “YHWHHHHHHH” And then forms a final word:


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