For the Second Sunday of Easter (this Sunday), or Divine Mercy Sunday, the Gospel reading is always John’s account of the encounter between the Risen Jesus and Thomas (John 20:19-31). Although the other disciples tell Thomas that they saw Jesus, Thomas will not believe them until he has seen for himself the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side. When Jesus does appear to the disciples when Thomas is present, Jesus presents His wounds to Thomas and says, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it in my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” And Thomas replies, “My Lord and my God!”
What has struck me in my reflections on this has not been the doubt of Thomas. What has hit me is that touching Jesus’ wounds, not seeing His glory, convinced Thomas that the figure he was seeing was real. Which has led me to wonder: If we allowed ourselves to “touch” the wounds of others, maybe they would become “real” human beings to us. Maybe we wouldn’t be so ready to see them as an invading horde, or in another context, objects meant to satisfy our desires, or simply evil because they are not like us. Maybe we could even see them as beloved children of God.
What do I mean by “touching” people’s wounds? Of course I don’t mean that we physically touch the scars that people may have. What I mean is that we take the time to listen to people’s stories, and recognize that we’ve all been wounded at one time or another, and that we all need healing. In our second reading from Revelation (1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19), the author writes: “I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus …” Even if we do not share faith in Jesus, we can acknowledge that we do share distress and endurance in life.
Could our woundedness, then, be a bond that can bring us together? That would be an Easter hope for me. Or is division our only choice? You may be thinking, “Fr. Phil, there are evil people in the world, who have done evil things.” Yes, that’s true, but I’m not sure it applies to most people. And even though there may be people who do evil, even they are incapable of making God stop loving them.
By touching Jesus’ wounds, Thomas was healed of his doubt and his grief. If we are willing to hear or see or somehow “touch” the wounds of others, and let others “touch” our wounds, maybe some greatly needed healing can occur. May the Risen Christ, by the mercy of God, give us the strength and the hope to be wounded healers for our hurting world.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.