Scars That Heal
Fr. Armando T. Romero, CICM
During Easter Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin. With these I want to contemplate with you one of the stories of Jesus’ appearance to his disciples. From this story, we will learn that the risen Christ still bears nailprints in his hands and feet. His scars are a sign that the Christ who is risen from the dead is the same person who suffered and was crucified. This God, who bears the marks of suffering on his own body is the God who is infinitely interested in our condition. It is because he has scars, that he can also understand and heal our pain.
Nowadays, there are a lot of what we call false prophets that are roaming around "If someone comes to us and says 'I am Jesus Christ!', we would say to that person 'Show me your nail prints.'"We are reminded of Thomas, who considered the story of Christ's resurrection as nothing other than hearsay, until he saw the marks of his suffering. The God who saves is also the God who suffers.
Jesus addresses the doubts of the frightened disciples, showing them his scars so that they might believe that the mysterious one who stands before them is the one whom they had followed and loved.
The three days that Christ spent in the realm of the dead did not change His character. When he entered the room where they were gathered, He showed them the same compassion that they had come to expect of the Jesus they knew from before. The risen Christ has scars; nail prints in his hands and feet. The risen Christ has scars. Being raised from the dead did not erase his scars. The Christ of Easter bears the scars of Good Friday. Thomas recognized him as risen only by touching his scars. Easter, the stunning triumph of God, the great victory over death and defeat, does not erase the scars.
The risen Christ has just moved from death to life, he has come forth from the tomb triumphant. In his exalted form, the disciples mistook him for a ghost according to Luke 24:37. It was only when he showed them his scars that they knew him. When Thomas says, "I won't believe that its Jesus unless I can poke my fingers into the nailprints in his hands", he isn’t simply expressing some stubborn cynicism. Thomas is saying, "I won't believe that it's Jesus, unless I touch his scars… because Jesus has wounds."
We believe that Easter is God's decisive defeat of death. The final battle has been won. Yet, for those of us who still live in a world where pain and death is a reality, the risen Christ comes to us, shows us his scars, has compassion upon us, and even shows us a way to turn our scars into opportunities to minister to others around us who are hurting.
To be able to do this, we must look at our attitudes toward those who are in pain. Sometimes we have strange expectations of our fellow Christians. In our attitudes toward others we seem to imply that, "If you are a Christian, a real Christian, you will always feel Joy and Peace in your heart." But the fact is that some people feel great sadness, even if they are Christians. We wonder what is wrong with them. Is their faith not yet firm? How come that person can’t just simply get over it and go on with their life and faith?
Before we become judgmental we must look at ourselves. The reality is that we all carry our scars with us. Some of us are really good at hiding them. But we all have them. Our Christian faith has brought us much joy, yes, but still we bear the scars of our sinful human condition. To be human is to have scar tissue inside and out. You and I have scars, human as we are.You and I bear the scars of our painful experiences. They may not all be scars that we can touch with our hands and see with our eyes - but we have scars that shape our lives, and which God intends to use to set us apart for his good purposes.