By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Touch the Wounds

This was the invitation of our Risen Lord to Thomas, who refused to believe that Jesus was alive unless he could see and touch him. When the doubting apostle responded to the invitation of Christ and put his hands in the wounds left by the nails and lance, he was brought to the essence of faith, naming Jesus Lord and God.

Touch the wounds. The mystical body of the risen Lord is the Church, and there are plenty of wounds in her members: those of sin and error, loneliness and grief, or suffering and anxiety. If we reach out to touch one another in our woundedness, and do so in love as a response to this invitation of Jesus, we touch the Lord himself. Through this the Lord leads us to deeper faith, as we are brought to a new awareness of both humanity's shared vulnerability and the abiding presence of the risen Lord, who heals our wounds by his own.

We might want to start doing this, and right away. In our society there is a disturbing and expanding tendency to touch one another's wounds, not for healing but for harm. The limitations and mistakes of persons are discussed openly in order to shame and condemn, a practice most visible in politics and the media, but present also in everyday water cooler conversations. When Jesus invites us to touch the wounds, we respond first by considering our own. An honest admission of our own weakness gives rise to that humility which is the necessary foundation of human solidarity. When we are aware of our own faults, the prior tendency to condemn becomes a desire to show mercy. Let's never forget the command of the Lord: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36)

The Second Sunday of Easter, which we celebrated yesterday, is also Divine Mercy Sunday. Established by Blessed Pope John Paul II, this day, and the devotion associated with it, has arisen in response to the Lord's call for mercy, as received and communicated by Saint Faustina. We can understand this plea as a particular echo of the Lord's invitation to Thomas: touch the wounds. Touch one another in your woundedness, do so with love, not with condemnation but with mercy, and you will know that Jesus, who is divine mercy incarnate, is risen, alive, and ever present in our midst.