Acts of the Apostles 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-9
1 John 2:1-5
“Last week and this week I have been captivated by the fact that the risen Jesus is recognized and defined by the wounds of His crucifixion,” Sr. Cecilia Maria began as we reconvened for our Sunday Scripture discussion. In this week’s gospel, Jesus reassures His troubled disciples that it is truly he by showing them His pierced hands and feet. Last week, St. Thomas declared that he would not believe unless he saw and felt for himself the wounds left by the nails and the lance, and Jesus came to satisfy his desire.
What makes these scenes so remarkable is that none of the disciples, save St. John who was on Calvary, would have known the crucified Jesus. They knew Him by His voice, miracles, walk, visage. Yet He shows them His wounds, and by them they recognize and believe in Him. “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself!” Why? Why the wounds?
Sr. Mary Veronica phrased the mystery this way: God chose to retain and glorify the wounds of His shameful and bloody crucifixion. He didn’t have to. He could have wiped them away entirely, just like He could have avoided the Passion in His work of salvation. But He didn’t. He suffered, and He chose to remain wounded even in His glory for all eternity (as Sr. Mary Andrea reminded us).
Jesus Christ – and therefore God, who is Love Himself – chose to be defined by His wounds. This should give us great hope and consolation! God did not only enter into our suffering, but He made it a part of Himself and then glorified it.
This means that we can meet God even and especially in the parts of our life that hurt the most, the wounds of our own existence. This gives an extraordinary dimension to our own resurrection and eternal life. In heaven, God will not remove from us our wounds from physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual sufferings. No, but He will glorify them! Our ugliest sufferings and trials will, in Christ, become the most beautiful parts of us, just like Christ’s glorious wounds shine with the brightest radiance.
Sr. Rose Marie helped us to see the consolation and assurance Christ’s wounds gave to the apostles, and that they can give to each of us. What was the disciples’ reaction to Jesus as he appeared and said to them, “Peace be with you?” They were startled, terrified, troubled, questioning, incredulous, amazed! And for good reason: the vast majority had abandoned or denied Him, and they were cowering from fear of joining Him in His fate. Seeing Him alive would have confirmed their earlier conviction that He truly is the Messiah of God…and God’s people had killed Him. Surely they were thinking in their hearts, “What will He say now? What will He do now? We are in trouble. We blew it.” But Jesus comes with peace, and the assurance: look at my hands and my feet, and know that “it is written that the Messiah would suffer.” This was planned, and I did it for you! Peace be with you.
May we each discover the peace that flows from Christ’s glorious wounds! May we recognize Him in them, and may we discover, as Sr. Rose Marie stated so poignantly, that Christ’s wounds mark the way to heaven.