It’s in Christ alone that our wounds can find meaning.
Thomas places his finger in the wounds of Jesus and he believes. "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." (John 20.27)
Many call Thomas the doubting Thomas. But all of the Apostles doubted. All of the Apostles ran away and abandoned Jesus. In reality, he is not the doubting Thomas, but the courageous Thomas. He is the only Apostle who knows where to find Jesus.
By touching the wounds of Jesus, he begins to understand that the risen Jesus is not a ghost, but that he is truly real. By encountering the wounds of Jesus, he is able to encounter the authentic Jesus, the real Jesus, the whole Jesus.
Because he is able to encounter the Jesus that shed his blood on the Cross, he falls to the ground and pronounces a profound act of faith: "My Lord and my God.”
Thomas is able to encounter Jesus in all of his humanity and all of his divinity.
He comes to grasp the reality that the risen Jesus is the same Jesus that died on Calvary.
What lesson is he teaching us by keeping his wounds intact?
We can answer this question by turning to our own wounds.
First, we all experience the large wound caused by Original Sin. Although we are baptized and Original Sin has been cleansed from our soul, our human nature has been wounded. We struggle with the effects of Original Sin.
And then there are the other wounds, the wounds that are smaller. We have wounds that are caused by sickness and the wounds that are caused by problems, adversities, challenges and the disappointments of life.
All of us are wounded.
Even Jesus is wounded.
Many times we are surprised and even discouraged that our commitment to follow the Risen Lord consists in a continual personal struggle with our predominant faults. We become dismayed when manifestations of our predominant faults constantly show themselves in our daily activities.
Most of us have been profoundly affected by all the dysfunction around us. Perhaps some of our predominant faults have been caused by these dysfunctions or minimally they provide the ammunition that pushes our buttons, especially when we deal with anger issues and discouragement.
However, when we honestly acknowledge our weaknesses and sinful tendencies, and take responsibility for all of our actions, our struggles can be the very agents that cause us to receive the graces that we need to overcome our weaknesses and sins.
Our wounds become the source by which personal transformation takes place.
Did you ever stop to think what your glorified body will look like? The only glorified body that we know is the glorified body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. His glorified body still carries the five wounds of Calvary.
Perhaps our glorified body will bear our own personal wounds. Maybe the wounds caused by the death of a loved one, a family tragedy, a life-long struggle with sin, or a long battle with a chronic illness will be seen as personal trophies because they have been the very agents that caused us to gain eternal salvation.
Dcn. Keith Fournier in his excellent book Wounds that Heal writes: “Maybe when the last trumpet sounds, millions upon millions of glorified bodies will come forth from their tombs adorned with glorified wounds – wounds that, when joined with the five wounds of the Son of God, are seen as the very agents that made possible their owner’s earthly transformation. Whatever our predominant faults or buttons may be, some of them may be then worn with gratitude because they broke us of the greatest impediment to contentment, false pride.” (Deacon Keith Fournier, Wounds that Heal, p. 102)
But, where is the risen and wounded Jesus? Where can we encounter him?
As Jesus hung on the Cross, all of his blood flowed from his wounds. The eternal reminder of his wounds reminds us that we are to experience him in the Eucharist.
It is in the Eucharist that we encounter peace because we truly encounter the Lord. We need to bring our wounds to the risen and wounded Jesus every day in the Eucharist. It is there, at the tabernacle, that his wounds will heal us.
Fr. James Farfagliais the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.