3rd Sunday of Easter (Fr. Simham)
Jesus Christ: wounded healer
For the past two weeks when I was reading the gospels about Jesus’ appearance after his resurrection, the question that was popping up in my mind was; “Why wounds in the resurrected body of Jesus? In other words, Why Our Lord, when He rose from the dead, still had those marks of the crucifixion in his body? If He had wanted to, He could easily have removed those wounds. He could have easily erased from His body every sign of his crucifixion. But, Why did he go around carrying those wounds. Why?
I thought that it is a veered question but later on I came to know that Saint Thomas Aquinas himself was confronted with this question and he answered it in Summa theologiae IIIa q. 54, a. 4: “Whether Christ’s body ought to have risen with its scars?” He gives five reasons for why Christ rose with the scars of His passion:
I answer that, It was fitting for Christ’s soul at His Resurrection to resume the body with its scars. In the first place, for Christ’s own glory. For Bede says on Luke 24:40 that He kept His scars not from inability to heal them, “but to wear them as an everlasting trophy of His victory. E.g. You win the game, you’ll be presented with a trophy as remembrance. So also for Jesus the scars are the trophy of Victory.
Secondly, to confirm the hearts of the disciples as to “the faith in His Resurrection” (Bede, on Luke 24:40). To tell the disciples that it He, the same Jesus who was crucified.
Thirdly, “that when He pleads for us with the Father, He may always show the manner of death He endured for us” (Bede, on Luke 24:40).
Fourthly, “that He may convince those redeemed in His blood, how mercifully they have been helped, as He exposes before them the traces of the same death” (Bede, on Luke 24:40).
Lastly, “that in the Judgment-day He may upbraid them with their just condemnation” (Bede, on Luke 24:40). Hence, as Augustine says (De Symb. ii): “Christ knew why He kept the scars in His body. For, as He showed them to Thomas who would not believe except he handled and saw them, so will He show His wounds to His enemies, so that He who is the Truth may convict them, saying: ‘Behold the man whom you crucified; see the wounds you inflicted; recognize the side you pierced, since it was opened by you and for you, yet you would not enter.’”
Added to these, one important thing we need to understand is the people whom he was visiting after his resurrection and their situation. They were not happy bunch of men. They were wounded men; wounded in their hearts and minds. They were like a young woman who married a handsome professional and dreamt of a beautiful future only to be cut short by a tragic accident resulting in death. Their hearts were wounded and their minds agitated. And hence they locked themselves up in a room. That is the natural and first reaction of the people who are hurt psychologically and wounded. They are like tortoise retreating to its shell when presented with danger.
Now, These wounded men have to be healed. Their memories have to healed and hopes have to be restored. Who can do this? Only a wounded-healer! That is Jesus Christ risen. Hence he approaches them as a wounded man and shows them his wounds. As if to say: ‘to be wounded is human, nothing to be ashamed of. I can understand your hurts. I can understand your fear and anxiety. I can understand your wounds. It is impossible to travel through life and escape being wounded. Even I the God/Man couldn’t do it. Even I am wounds. Touch and feel my wounds.’ Believe me, dear friends, this was a wonderful healing experience for Thomas and other disciples. His spending time with them and eating with them healed their wounds. And day after day it increased their confidence. And by Pentecost time they were a changed bunch of men. That is what a wounded healer can do. He can heal our hidden wounds.
Like it or not we all have “wounds”. Being human we cannot escape being wounded. Like the disciples, we carry them around even without our knowledge. Maybe the 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 when we are in the presence of people we don’t like, or who don’t like us. Our wounds are there, shaping the way We perceive people and situations. And we all need to be healed. Who can heal us?
It is the wounded-healer. In fact it is this wounded-ness that makes us to feel so close to Christ. Thank God we Catholics have the images of wounded Christ. We can feel so close to him. We open up your wounds to him as the disciples on the road to Emmaus did. He can heal us. So let us pray! Jesus! Wounded healer, heal us from all hurts, fears, anxieties and problems. Amen.
Fr. Showreelu Simham