The following is a reflection on today’s readings from Fr. Flor McCarthy, SDB.
The risen Jesus still bore the wounds of his crucifixion on his glorified body. Why was this? This story may give a clue to the answer.
It is about a single, working mother, who lives in New York. In a period of six years she saw her three sons shot dead, the youngest of them right in front of her door. It has left a deep wound in her heart. She relives her grief every time a child is killed in the neighborhood.
Yet she has refused to be trapped by fear and a sense of victimhood. Instead, she has reached out to others. She has become an eloquent advocate for gun control and community responsibility, talking at schools and other places. She started a support group for mothers in similar positions. And when a child dies, she visits the parents to comfort them.
She says that in the beginning she wished her sons had never been born. But now she says, “In their deaths there is sorrow, but there is also some unbelievable joy. If I had not had my three sons, I would not be the kind of person I am today. They help me to be strong. They help me not to be selfish.”
The frame of her door still bears the marks of the bullets which killed her youngest son. Although she doesn’t always notice the, she knows they are there. Why doesn’t she have the frame repaired? “I want those holes to be a constant reminder that a young man lost his life at that spot. When you fix things, people tend to forget.”
When you fix things, people tend to forget. Maybe that is why Jesus kept the marks of his wounds on his risen body, Firstly, those wounds helped the apostles to recognize him. The same Jesus who during his life manifested his power over evil is the one in whom God has manifested his power over death. Secondly, those wounds were the proof of his love. Jesus didn’t just talk about love; he gave an example of it, and had the wounds to prove it – the mortal wounds the Good Shepherd suffered in defending his flock from the wolf.
Jesus did not hide his wounds. He showed them to Thomas and invited him to touch them. When Thomas touched the wounds of Jesus, his doubts vanished, and his faith was re-born.
The sacred and precious wounds of Jesus are a source of consolation, courage, and hope to us. They help us to come to terms with our own wounds. They help us not to be selfish. By his wounds we are healed of self-pity and the sense of victimhood.
There is a tendency to hide our wounds, because of the belief that displaying weakness does not create respect. However, those who don’t disguise their own struggles and how live through them, give hope to others. An understanding of their own pain enables them to convert their weakness into strength, and to offer their own experience as a source of healing to others.
Today we welcome the children who are making their first communion. This is an exciting day for them. They remind us that receiving the Eucharist should excite us every time we receive it.