Wounds. They are injuries to living tissue. They hurt. They scar. They heal slowly. And if wounds are public, people stare. Or, they whisper about us when they see them especially if they leave deep red scars. Someone once said, “Wounds are liked locked doors.”
Dr. Alyce McKenzie, professor of preaching at Perkins School of Theology, says: “…When someone…is locked in, someone else has to be locked out.” When the disciples lock themselves in, they also think that they lock everyone else out of the room, maybe Thomas, and then of course, the Risen Crucified Christ. The Lutheran pastor, Dr. Gordon Lathrop says, “You don’t have to knock very hard on any door in your parish to find some sort of agony behind that door.”
What if our wounds are really the essence of being Christian and Catholic? Sister Verna Holyhead quotes from the agnostic poet and essayist, Charles Peguy who tells a story about a man who dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates. “The recording angel [says} to him, ‘Show me your wounds.’ ‘Wounds?’ [replies] the man, ‘I haven’t got any.’ And the angel [asks] ‘Did you never think that anything was worth fighting for?’”
St. John the Evangelist tells us about the wounds of the Eleven and the early disciples. They are in mourning, fearful, and trembling behind locked doors. They struggle to believe the words of some of the women who claim that Jesus is alive.
St. Luke the Evangelist tells us about the wounds of people in the streets. Those sick or with unclean spirits lay on mats and cots hoping to touch or hear healing words of the disciples. Those in the streets even hope that the shadows of the apostles fall upon them to be healed.
St. John tells us about his wounds. He tells his fellow Christians about his exile to the penal colony on the island of Patmos. They exile him for believing in Christ. To support his mission of preaching the Gospel the Lord grants him visions. The visions form the beginning of the Book of Revelation. They confirm his faith.
To confirm the faith of those locked in the Upper Room, the Risen Crucified Christ shows the disciples his hands and his side. He begins with Thomas. I do not think that Thomas doubts the Resurrection. But I do believe that he stood between a rock and a hard place. Whom is he to believe, ten men who are cowards, or, a few women whom society does not count as credible? So, to prove that he is alive, Jesus shows Thomas all his wounds. “Grope me,” he actually says, “grope me as a blind person gropes in the dark; know that I am real.”
I believe that unless we allow each other to see our wounds, resurrection is not complete. The wounds of Christ are everywhere in our liturgy. Look at the Paschal Candle. They contain the five wounds of Christ. Look at the altar. At the consecration, the bishop pours chrism oil first in the middle of the table and then around at four corners signifying the five wounds of Christ. And from this altar, we receive the broken body and the poured-out-blood of Christ.
Wounds. Jesus has them. We have them. They hurt. They scar. They are Christian. They are sacramental.
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
Second Sunday of Easter 2016