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.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Touch the Wounds

The risen body of Jesus continues to carry the wounds left by his crucifixion. In order to lead Thomas to faith, Jesus invites the doubting apostle to touch those same wounds and thus to believe. The Lord admonishes us not to imitate Thomas by basing faith upon empirical verification: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." At the same time, since this Gospel account was proclaimed in the context of Divine Mercy Sunday, one can detect in this encounter a subtle invitation from the Lord to embrace in a different sense the example of Thomas. It is, precisely, an invitation to "touch the wounds" of the body of the Risen Lord, and to touch them with mercy.

These wounds are now carried by the members of the Body of Christ that is the Church. Among us, as well as in our brothers and sisters in society, are found the wounds left by abuse, addictions, betrayal, guilt, bitterness, anger, loneliness, abandonment and so on. Our living union with Christ sends us out to touch these wounds, not to come to faith but as its expression. We believe and so we are sent, precisely as apostles of mercy.

And what of our own wounds? I met this weekend with inmates of a local penitentiary here in the Edmonton area. In a question and answer session, one of them asked: "What do you learn from us when you come here?" I admit the question caught me off guard, but upon reflection I welcomed it. They do teach me a very important lesson, namely, the need to be in touch with my own woundedness. The prisoner, in coming face to face with his or her mistakes, often is led to discover the source of the wrongdoing in unresolved anger that stems from deep wounds caused by any number of factors, most often a tragic family history. Getting in touch with these deep scars and experiencing God's healing gives birth to new insight and spiritual liberation. Without such self-knowledge and healing, the mistakes will in all likelihood be perpetuated.

As we strive to respond to the Lord's call to touch the wounds of others, let us not hesitate to invite him to touch our own wounds and bring to them the healing and new life that he alone can give. To be an apostle of mercy we must first be its recipient.