The Sunday Project
By Our Wounds
Second Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy |
By Darby DeJarnette
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “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.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
There are many things in nature which seem to be paradoxes. Water gives us life but it can be an incredibly destructive force in the form of a tsunami. The sun lights a path before us but also creates shadows. He showed them his hands and his side. By his wounds they came to know God.
Each person who draws close to Christ has incurred a wound: social rejection, persecution, mental illness, grief over the illness or death of a loved one, the dissolution of a long term relationship, oppression—among many others. This suffering isn’t meaningless, just as Christ’s suffering wasn’t meaningless.
Our specific wounds are the way in which we are drawn into union with God. Even with wounds which last a lifetime. Even with wounds we think may kill us. Jesus didn’t survive the wounds he incurred during the crucifixion, they were supposed to kill him and he did die.
Likewise, his resurrection didn’t take place in front of a crowd of people. It happened in the darkness of the tomb, in solitude. How God works in this darkness to breathe new life into something we once previously believed to be dead is a mystery. And, yet, this is the environment in which the miracle usually takes place.
This is it—the ultimate paradox. It’s important to allow the hurting and hardened places in yourself to die. You must enter the darkness. It can’t be avoided. This is what gives God the space to bring life to the parts of our heart which we believe are completely destroyed and numb.
Then he said to Thomas, “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.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
We always want a sign from God, or from some other place, to reassure us that we’re doing the right thing when we find ourselves needing to enter this darkness. But, often, there isn’t a sign until God’s light can shine through the wounds we once thought were fatal. The light itself is the sign—and it comes only after we can abandon ourselves completely to God.
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. Even in an all-encompassing darkness, there are three things which we should never lose sight of: faith, hope and love. Within these intangible things we find the strength to allow God to lead us back to ourselves. We can be honest about our doubt, as Thomas was. We have not yet seen what we have been promised. As many others have said, if you are angry at God, if you feel abandoned, if you feel scared—then you are still in a relationship with God. Faith, hope and love are the things that help us open our messy selves to God’s work.
By revealing his wounds, Jesus is asking us to imagine the future with him. His future is one which transcends our current sufferings, our lives and even time itself. This future can only be entered through sacrifice. Love for the Body of Christ comes when we suffer and when we suffer with others. By his wounds, the disciples came to know God. By our wounds we come to know God.