April 23, 2016
-by Laurie Brock
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but…had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side. (John 20:19-20, The Message)
Somewhere in the land of myths and legends I’ve heard about our faith is one regarding this same event mentioned in John, but the Christ who appeared wasn’t really the Christ. Instead, the Tempter appeared to the followers of Christ, greeting them, embracing them, until one unnamed disciple noticed this Christ didn’t have the wounds and realized this wasn’t Christ, but the Tempter.
We have that temptation as people of faith, to live into Resurrection without acknowledging the scars of pain and death that led us to this place. Temptation entices us to glamorize our pain and wounds, to ignore them all together, or to use them to justify our behavior, among other things. Temptation invites us to hold up our souls for all to see and act as if there are no wounds.
“See, look! Nothing!” we exclaim, usually ignoring our souls seeping all over the place through the wounds we are ignoring.
Life, the reckless, beautiful thing it is, leaves us wounded. The hands of others we’ve held in love have been pierced with betrayal. We’ve been punched in the gut and left breathless and wounded by institutional abuse. Our feet have been nailed to the damaging patterns of our families and our life choices that want us desperately to stay stuck. The list is long of the ways life and the people we encounter in this life leave their wounds.
The Resurrected Christ has his wounds. We have not one but two accounts in John where Jesus holds out his hands and says, “Look, touch.” And when those invited touch his wounds, their touch does not seem to hurt.
He is an embodiment of the true path of resurrection and transformation. Wounds do not, in a life of faithful healing, go away, as if they were never there. They are present, part of us. And initially, yes, they are filled with pain. But after we’ve laid in the tomb, after God has healed our wounds in God’s own time and way, we might be surprised to see they are still there.
Yes, yes they are. But notice something, God asks us. Notice they aren’t as painful. Notice they are part of you, part of your beauty.
Our wounds are transformed by God as part of new life. They become part of the newness we are in Christ. We experience, in the Resurrected Christ, our wounds transformed into part of us – a part of us that can be touched without sending us into screams of pain, a part of us that can be shown to others not in a way that glamorizes our wounds or uses them as an excuse for wounding others. They become a part of us that becomes our witness of Resurrection.
I wish I could lay out a plan of how, exactly, healing of our deep wounds happens or even a timeline. I can’t, but I know this healing happens. I know Easter always follows Good Friday and Holy Saturday (and in that order – no skips). And Easter allows Christ to touch our wounds, to transform them into parts of our selves and souls that can heal ourselves and offer the witness of healing to others.
Elisabeth Kugler-Ross writes of these wounds transformed but still present:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
No, beautiful people do not just happen. They acknowledge their wounds; they offer them to Christ for transformation and for healing which is hard, unsettling work in many ways; and they allow Christ to touch them.
Beautiful people remind us all that our wounds are not sources of shame, but sources of hope.
Where are the wounds in your life Christ has touched? Reflect on the circumstances, people, and events of those wounds and how you experienced Easter healing of them? How have you been transformed because of this holy healing – what appreciation, sensitivity, and understanding have you gained? How have you or might you use this knowledge and insight to help others?
Fantastic article! The wounds of Christ are for me the single thing that makes him most compelling; his woundedness speaks to the wounded human heart and to the wounded world in a way that nothing else really can.
Heinrich Heine put it this way: “… Anyone who sees his god suffering finds it easier to endure his own pain. The merry gods of the past, who felt no pain, did not know either how poor tortured human beings feel, and a poor person in desperation could have no real confidence in them. They were holiday gods; people danced around them merrily, and could only thank them. For this reason they never received whole-hearted love. To receive whole-hearted love one must suffer. Compassion is the last sacrament of love; it may be love itself. Therefore of all the gods who ever lived, Christ is the god who has been loved the most.”
I’ve also read – somewhere – that Christ’s wounds have been seen as battle scars, acquired in the cosmic struggle with darkness. That’s another image I find very compelling.
Mary Wright Baylor
This is so important for people of faith to understand. It is so beautifully written, Laurie, and summed so well in the Kubler-Ross quote. And it’s the grace that oozes from woundedness.
Wonderful. Thanks for posting this.