“The doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood in their midst, and *said to them, ‘Peace be with you’. He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” JN 20:20 This this perhaps is the most beautiful encounter of the disciples and Jesus in the New Testament! First of all, there is no locking the Risen Jesus out of our lives! They not only feared the Jews, but they most likely also feared Jesus. They heard He was alive and maybe thought He might not be too happy about them running away!
But when they heard the beautiful Jewish greeting of shalom, they knew His love for them was not diminished! They were startled at first, especially in Luke’s account of His appearance. But their anxiety quickly settled down and was transformed into incredible joy at the sight of “the Living One”. Not only was He alive, but He chose to keep “on the Body given for us” the scars of the nails and the spear to be a perpetual and stunning reminder of His love for us.
Like Thomas, we are invited to touch the marks of the nails and the open wound on His side that leads to His Heart! Somehow, we can only experience touching His wounds by experiencing our wounds. Like the Apostles who rejoiced to experience suffering for Christ, we need to experience pain. We must suffer to appreciate Christ who showed His love for us by pain. “After calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Act 5:41
St Paul of the Cross in his letters had many beautiful sayings about the sufferings of Christ. “The passion of Jesus is a sea of sorrows, but it is also an ocean of love. Ask the Lord to teach you to fish in this ocean. Dive into its depths. No matter how deep you go, you will never reach the bottom.” Again, he writes: “The world lives unmindful of the sufferings of Jesus which are the miracle of miracles of the love of God. We must arouse the world from its slumber. His Holy Spirit will teach us how.” Letters Vol 11 726
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.