KOTA KINABALU: At the recent Divine Mercy Sunday celebration, the rector of St Simon Catholic Church Likas, Fr Cosmas Lee, read a “beautiful reflection” on the mystery of the Risen Lord.
“It is the mystery of God’s power to convince us that He loves us because He suffered and died for us,” he said on God’s mercy and love during his homily, summarising the reflection. Below is the transcript:
There is a story told, a legend perhaps, about St Teresa of Avila. One day the devil appeared to her, disguised as Christ. Theresa wasn’t fooled for even a second. She immediately dismissed him. Before leaving, however, the devil asked her: “How did you know? How could you be so sure I wasn’t Christ?” Her answer: “You didn’t have any wounds! Christ has wounds.”
In today’s gospel we see Thomas making a demand, “Unless I see the holes that the nails made in His hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into His side, I refuse to believe.” Because of this, poor Thomas is given the label – Doubting Thomas! Thomas is not insisting on seeing Jesus with his own eyes, to see what the others claimed to have seen. That is not what he requested. He asked for something quite different, something quite specific and odd. He says, “I want to see the wounds of Jesus. I want to touch those wounds.”
But isn’t it odd that the resurrected body of the Lord should have wounds? Isn’t the resurrection by definition a glorification, a transfiguration, a perfection, a total healing? Shouldn’t the resurrection remove every trace of old weakness, every hint of prior vulnerability? Why would John deliberately take note of this seemingly trivial and yet scandalous point? Let us reflect a little more on the wounds of Christ.
1. God’s love for us – According to Pope Francis: the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy, and faithfulness. We need Christ’s wounds and our wounds in order to stay mindful of how much we are loved. The wounds on Christ are not so much there to help us believe in the existence of God, but they are there to help remind us of His love for us. They become the living evidence of His faithfulness, mercy and sacrificial love for us. It is this love that leads us to faith.
2. Price of discipleship – At the very heart of our Easter faith is a wounded but resurrected Christ. A Jesus without wounds is a Jesus without a cross and a Jesus without a cross would never be adequate to meet the deepest needs of mankind. Too many modern Christians have clasped to their bosoms a powerful but cross-less Christ. We want all the benefits of being a Christian but not the responsibilities that come with it. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said that “Christ without a cross is a man without a mission, and a cross without Christ is a burden without relief”. The wounds of Christ remind us that the crucified Christ and the resurrected Christ is one and the same person. There can be no resurrection if there is no cross. This is the reason why we always use a crucifix and not just an empty cross. It teaches us that suffering and glory are two sides of the same coin – the coin of discipleship that is. To follow Christ is to partake and enter into the Paschal mystery – passion, death and resurrection of Christ. It is to suffer and to die with Christ and ultimately rise with him.
3. A way of recognizing God – It is seeing the wounds of Christ that ultimately led Thomas to say “My Lord and my God!” Thomas sees the wounds and he sees God. Thomas immediately recognized Jesus when he saw the wounds of Christ. We too are a wounded people. We carry many wounds: spiritual, emotional, physical etc… are we able to recognize Jesus in our brokenness? Are we able to recognize Jesus in the broken people around us? Are we able to recognize Jesus in the broken world around us? It is only when we are able to recognize the Christ in our own brokenness that we can see the Christ in the brokenness of others.
4. A way of helping others – When we look upon the wounded Jesus, we see ourselves. Perhaps it was the pitiful appearance of Christ hanging on the cross…beaten, and bleeding…that gave the Good Thief the courage to make his outrageous request: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (Lk 23:42). Looking at Christ crucified was like looking into a mirror. The wounds marring the man nailed next to him moved the thief to true confidence. It enabled him to see past the wounds — to the love of One who dies to give his life to us. Grace always enters through our wounds. Very often it is through our wounds that others are healed. Jean Vanier said, “We are called to heal and to liberate”. This healing power in us will not come from our capacities and our riches, but in and through our poverty. We are called to discover that God can bring peace, compassion, and love through our wounds.
As we journey this Easter season, let us not be afraid when doubt or crisis arises. Let us be like Thomas, putting our finger and hands into the wounds of Christ and, thus, draw strength to be faithful disciples of Jesus. Let us together proclaim with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!!!”