Friday 10 April 2020

Celebration of the Lord's Passion

Word for today
The Gospel of John 18:1–19:42

It is finished

In the Peshitta – the ancient Aramaic version of the gospels – “it is finished” corresponds to m(e)shalàm. Jesus used the verb shlòm, from the root shlm, the same linguistic root of the name Shiloh (Genesis 49: 10) which foretold Him in the bible for the first time; and it is also the same linguistic root of the Hebrew shalòm, the word uttered by Gabriel the archangel at the very beginning of the salvation story when he visited Mary. It is the same root of the last word Jesus spoke before departing from this world. And, finally, Peshitta translates with the same verb shlòm also the last gesture of Jesus on the Cross, of "handing over" of his Spirit.
But what is the meaning of the root shlm?
Semitic languages, from the akkadian sillu/sillum to the Hebrew sel, refer to concepts such as “refuge, cover, protection, care, shade to protect.” The Hebrew root shlh means “be calm, happy, live in peace, thrive.” From the same letters of this root come many nouns and many adjectives: the adjective shalew, “quiet, happy, safe,” the noun shelew, “calm, airiness, peace,” the ancient primitive form Shiloni, a town of the Efraim tribe in the kingdom of Israel where the Ark of the Covenant was long guarded. And then there is shalwah, “rest, prosperity, safety,” shelewa, “happiness, calm”, shilluach, “gift, present,” shalom, “peace, wellbeing.”
Shalom comes from the junction of two akkadian roots, slm, which means to reconcile, make peace, and shlm, which means to feel good, be in good conditions, be intact, to be/make conducive, propitious, to be successful, thrive, to keep healthy, in good conditions, to look after, protect, guard. In the bible shalom is used hundreds of times, with seven main meanings: prosperity, success, entirety, to be intact, wellbeing, health, peace, sociality, kindness, liberation, salvation.
In Jesus' mouth, on the Cross' altar,  it is finished is like a waterfall which gathers in itself the sum of all goodness and all riches of love and light that can finally flow over all those who want to plunge into God's peace. At the same time it is finished is the unbreakable seal of Jesus on all things that were, are, and will be. Only the Lord, not the servant, can say it is finished, can say now it is done, now everything will be new, everything is in God.

Note to the reader:
Further studies on the Peshitta – The Aramaic version of the gospels – and the linguistic roots of shalom can be found in Shiloh, by Paolo Spoladore, Ed. Usiogope, Venezia, 2009.