…but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.
“Things aren’t always what they seem.”
How many times have you heard that? It’s an interesting thing to think that what we see may not really be what’s there… that those things we experience could actually not be what we think they are.
And I suppose it’s completely true. There sure is a lot of falseness in our society these days. I wonder, though, if it’s really that new of a problem? I would guess that it isn’t… that, certainly, there has been the pull to cover up the imperfections of who we are, what we’ve done, or what’s been done to us. To augment our bodies, conceal our blemishes, or suppress our mistakes and “sweep the dust under the rug.”
I know I’m not alone when I say I have scars – some outer, some inner – that could stand to be covered up… removed. Perhaps even erase the moment that they came to be permanently etched on my body – or on my heart.
But I can’t. There’s no way to push rewind and have a “do-over” on yesterday. And you know what? I wouldn’t really want to.
Kintsugi or Kintsukuori is a Japanese approach to repairing pottery which has broken. The words mean “golden joinery” and “golden repair.” The craftsman takes the shattered vessel and fills the cracks with adhesive, and finishes by filling the scars with gold. When we set out to repair something, the result we seek is to camouflage the damage. Kintsugi, though, highlights and makes beautiful the very defects that we would usually seek to hide. The damaged vessel ends up more beautiful because it had been broken. Thanks to its brokenness, it now has been born into a stunning newness.
In today’s reading, St. Paul tells the Church in Corinth that “…we preach Christ crucified.” I’ve been told by friends from other Christian denominations that they “… aren’t crucifixion people. That’s death. We’re a resurrection people!” You know what? I am too. But there could have been no resurrection without first Jesus dying. It’s the broken Body of Christ and the scars Jesus carries for eternity that are the marks of the most amazing act of love in the history of creation. Why would I ever want to erase that stark, incredible reality?
It’s like that for us, now, you know. We all have those wounds… the scars we carry from injuries, ancient and fresh. Do we hide them or try to ignore them? Do we view ourselves as useless as a broken dish? Light does shine through cracks. Seeds do sprout after a forest fire. We can turn to the Crucified One and see the scars – our scars. Like a Kintsugi master, Jesus took those wounds, once shameful, and made them beautiful. And he can do that for us, if we’ll just let him. Sure… we won’t be the same as if we were brand-spankin’ new, but we will be forever changed – for the better.
So, what would it take to make our wounds beautiful? Maybe purest gold in the hands of a master craftsman?
I think that Master is waiting for us…
Dear God, who brings all death into life,
thank you for the gift of things not always being what they seem. Grant us the grace to see our wounds as you see them,
for in your hands, our scars can shine anew. Amen.
Paul Puccinelli is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Rita Parish in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center.