April 7, 2013 – Divine Mercy Sunday

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Scars are signs of God’s glory.

That sounds odd, doesn’t it?  I mean, scars – and the stories behind them – are usually results of something violent, something invasive, something we wish probably hadn’t happened.

Whether it’s that time in 3rd grade when I conked heads with “Bucky” Hess playing Ghost Comes Out at Midnight, or the time in high school that Becky clawed my hand because I borrowed her pencil without asking, or that moment a few years ago when I learned that there’s a safety guard on a table saw for a reason – in each of these cases, there was violence, suffering, and a long period of pain.  Think of a particular scar you have and the scene that produced it.  How can it be that scars are signs of God’s Glory?

Well, our human body is created in a way that many of these sorts of injuries eventually heal.  No more open wounds, just scars in their place: healing, newness, and an ability to carry on with life.

When we celebrated Palm Sunday and Good Friday recently, we heard about all the wounds that Jesus took on – physical, emotional, and spiritual.  The physical wounds of course didn’t have time to heal the way I’ve described; Jesus’ body died and was buried.

In today’s Gospel, always the Gospel for this Sunday after Easter, the risen Jesus appears to his disciples – all except Thomas, who doesn’t believe who his fellow apostles saw could possibly have been the Lord.  He won’t believe unless – that’s right – he can personally inspect Christ’s wounds.  When Jesus appears again a week later, He instructs Thomas, nicknamed “Doubting” for a reason, to not just see but to physically encounter the wounds, to place his fingers in the nail holes and place his hand in the Lord’s side.

Think for a moment – why would the glorified body of Christ, risen, bear these wounds still?  Why not be completely healed and whole again?

When we pray at each Mass together, we pray, usually in song, these words: “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; grant us peace.”  We pray this while a consecrated host is being broken so that all might share.  What truer sign of presence can there be?  Gathered at an altar that is all at the same time Christ’s last supper, his death on a cross, our banquet today and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet to come – we encounter Christ broken and risen, that we may all share in Him and His glory.  Thomas prayed the only thing he could have when he met the risen Lord: “My Lord and my God.”  Do we recognize Him, too?  Can we also say that prayer with humility and devotion?

Scars are signs of God’s glory.

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