Jesus was risen in the perfection of a totally new life. Isn't it odd that his wounds were not healed?
by Kathryn M. Cunningham, MAPS | Source: Catholic.net
In the journey toward Easter we know that the real victory for all believers is not in Jesus’ wounds but in His resurrection, right? There is a curiosity, however, in the resurrection that leaves room for much contemplation about our own woundedness. We know clearly from biblical accounts that Jesus resurrected body was robust and human, he was hungry! He cooked! Although we have the story of Thomas we often give little or no thought to a seldom discussed aspect of Jesus’ risen self. That is the fact that, even in his triumph over death, his wounds were not healed! Shocking, isn’t it? Even after all Jesus had been through; the way that he appears before his broken-hearted followers is still in his woundedness! Wouldn’t you think that in the resurrection, all wounds are healed? It is, after all, a state of perfection after passing through death. But from all biblical accounts, this is not the case. Jesus’ wounds are still present, visible and “in our face”.
What are we to make of this apparent contradiction? As exegetes tell us, there is no aspect about how the bible is constructed that is an error, or a chance occurrence. Everything about the scriptures gives us information about the way God thinks and how Jesus shaped his ministry. For instance, people speculate endlessly on “the hidden years”, Jesus’ growing up decades where there is not one recorded shred of narrative in any scripture writings anywhere. Only one incident is recorded when he is twelve and then nothing appears again until he begins his ministry at the age of thirty-three. Theologians will tell us that information about these years, then, is not important and the lack of information is God’s way of showing us what not to focus on. It’s just not there in the record. So when we read the shocking information that Jesus’ wounds are still present, even after resurrection, it is something that we need to pay close attention to.
As we know, the wounds that Jesus bears upon his body were inflicted by others. We also know that in the only narrative about his wounds, after the resurrection, that these realities proved to be an affirmation and support for Thomas’ waning faith. He says so himself and declares; “My Lord and My God”. Remember Thomas was the one who did not believe the “stories” about resurrection and the actual appearance of Jesus. What would Thomas have said if the wounds weren’t there; fake, imposter, hallucination? Like it or not we all have “visible wounds”. Like Jesus, we carry them around in a very public way. Maybe our wounds show up when we speak, when we meet new people, when we react to a comment that we don’t like or which makes us uncomfortable or perhaps when we are in the presence of people we don’t like, or who don’t like us. Our wounds are always there, shaping the way that people perceive us. To obviously carry wounds that have been infflicted upon us by others is a very human characteristic. It is impossible to travel through life and escape being wounded. Even Jesus the God/Man couldn’t do it. But are the wounds a good thing or a bad thing?
There is an additional tidbit in Thomas' story that would do well to command our attention. That is his presence in the "community". For whatever reason he separated himself from the community and because of that he missed the arrival and presence of the risen saviour. It was only when he retured and was present with his "faith family" that he experienced Jesus presence in the full, right down to experiencing Jesus wounds and their power, first hand. Clearly our community, then, is the place to share our wounds, the place to have no fear that someone will see that we are not perfect people. It is only by exposing our wounds that we can have them healed. When Thomas returned to his community and experienced the Lord, he had no trouble believing. It is obvious that he was bolstered by the people in his faith community who had this experience ahead of him. We need to remember, by Thomas' example, that our faith community (parish) is the place where healing is waiting for us even in the simple act of being together for a cup of coffee!
As the mark of being human, our visible wounds are neither good nor bad. They simply “are”. However, as the characteristics of a person pursuing a walk of faith, it matters more what we do with them. In Resurrection Jesus made no attempt to hide his visible wounds and neither should we! As I age I must admit embarrassment at the fact that I sometimes walk with an arthritic limp or get angry at other persons idiosyncrasies! Haven’t I learned anything? Isn’t it interesting, though, that when we “move inward” and focus on our visible wounds we completely forget that there are people and situations happening all around us? It’s almost like a drug, the focus changes dramatically from “out” to “in”. So how can we use our visible wounds for “good” rather than for “self indulgence”.
Woundedness is nothing to be ashamed of. Jesus' very condition in his resurrected state clearly shows us that. Next, being aware of your woundedness and owning up to it simply gives credence to your humanity. The resurrected Son did not “trumpet” his woundedness, but when asked about his wounds he clearly admitted he was wounded and allowed others (i.e. Thomas) to fully share the experience of his wounds, even to the point of touching them. For Thomas this was clearly a healing experience. The invitation to touch Jesus wounds was an experience that once and for all, eliminated all doubt for Thomas. Our visible wounds can be a source of encouragement and healing for others. Our visible wounds can be a tool which opens the door to healing. We need to admit to others that our visible wounds exist. This honesty can be life changing for ourselves as well as others. Once again Jesus teaches us that something which is an apparent disaster can be “turned on its head” and used as a divine tool to create grace, love blessing and faith. Don’t be in denial of your “visible wounds”. You and Jesus have something in common!
Copyright© Easter 2010, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All rights reserved.
Check out more of Kathryn's thinking at: www.atravelersview.org