The beautiful Wounds of Jesus…

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28)

Rembrandt

Rembrandt

That beautiful verse of Scripture is cherished by many of us for the love Jesus shows to “doubting” Thomas, and for His beautiful promise, “Blessed are those who have not seen, but have believed.”  It’s such a rich passage:   the touching, the intimacy Jesus extends to His somewhat bewildered apostle. One can only imagine the awe with which the others present must have looked on.

But this passage is significant for another reason. It clearly reveals to us something perhaps unexpected: Jesus still bears His Wounds upon His Resurrected Body.

But why?  Certainly, God could have removed any sign of the torments inflicted upon His Son’s precious Body. Jesus Christ possesses the most beautiful, most glorious risen Body which even God could create…for Jesus is God, and therefore perfect…even bearing Wounds.

On a retreat I attended several years ago, the priest spoke of the Wounds of Christ, and he said that Our Lord’s Sacred Wounds now shine like splendid rubies in His glorified Body. Far from detracting from the perfection of that Holy Body, they contribute greatly to its Glory. For those Wounds are the Wounds of Love. The very Body of Jesus is imprinted forever with His Love for you and for me.

Jesus is no longer on the Cross, but He would never wish to surrender His Wounds. How He must cherish them…these Sacred Marks upon His Holy flesh which visibly proclaim to all of creation the Love He bears for poor sinners.

And to chosen souls, who love Him greatly, what gift does He sometimes give? The stigmata…wounds of the crucifixion mystically experienced in the bodies of great Saints like Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio, to name a few.

The priest at my retreat went on to suggest that we too may bear wounds in Heaven. Not scars or disfigurement, but our own precious wounds of love. He explained that we should not be surprised to see that what we have suffered in our bodies for Jesus, through sickness, pain, torment, etc., will be manifested one day as great beauty. We too shall be adorned with heavenly jewels….for Jesus counts every tear and measures every pain, storing them all as treasures awaiting us in Heaven.

As I listened to Father, I thought of how Jesus so generously allows us to participate in His Saving Work by redemptive suffering. How like Him to desire that our little wounds of love, willingly suffered for Him, would tell the story of our love for all eternity.

When I allow myself to consider the possibility of Jesus without His Glorious Wounds, I cannot do so for very long. It is too sad…too heartbreaking. Jesus without His pierced hands and feet and His wounded Heart?  That is impossible!  His Love makes it impossible. I hope one day in Heaven to kiss those Precious Wounds, as I have so often kissed them on my little crucifixes. Like Thomas, I want to be able to recognize Jesus by His beautiful Wounds of Love and proclaim, “My Lord and my God!”

“The beatitude of faith…..”

thomasagain

I love today’s gospel.  Even when I was a child, I was so delighted to hear those beautiful words Jesus spoke to Thomas:  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

“That’s me!” I would inwardly exclaim.  And so it is, and hopefully, it is you too!

Our Holy Father Francis focused on these words from the gospel in his Regina Caeli message, on the Feast of Divine Mercy, in Rome today.  He too seemed to say, “That’s me!”

poperegina
Vatican City, Apr 7, 2013 / 07:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the Feast of Divine Mercy, Pope Francis emphasized that when Jesus said “blessed are those who do not see and yet believe,” he was also referring to those who believed the testimony of the Apostles and everyone today who hears the witness of Christians and believes.

“And who were they who believed without seeing? Other disciples, men and women of Jerusalem that, while they did not meet the resurrected Jesus, believed in the testimony of the Apostles and the women,” Pope Francis said April 7 before a crowd of around 100,000 people.

The Pope made his remarks before praying the Regina Caeli from the window of the papal apartment that overlooks St. Peter’s Square.

He focused on the Gospel reading for today, which recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the resurrection.

When he first heard the news of the resurrection, the Pope noted that Thomas responded, “If I do not see and do not touch, I will not believe.”

But eight days later, Jesus appeared to the Apostles in the upper room and invited Thomas to look at his wounds, to touch them, and he exclaimed: “My Lord my God.”

“Jesus replied, ‘because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.’”

“This is a very important word on faith,” Pope Francis stated, adding that “we can call it the beatitude of faith.”

“At all times and in all places are blessed are those who, through the Word of God proclaimed in Church and witnessed by Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the love of God incarnate, Mercy incarnate.

“And this is true for each of us!” he exclaimed.

Source: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-those-who-believe-without-seeing-includes-us/

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Today is my dad’s birthday. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 93. I would be most grateful to anyone who offers a prayer for the repose of his soul. And, I will remember all of you at Mass today. Thank you!

My Lord and my God….

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
By Caravaggio

I love this painting.  I wonder what Jesus was thinking, as He so kindly invited Thomas to actually put his hand into those Precious Wounds.  Did Jesus really take Thomas by the hand, as depicted above, and Himself guide the apostle’s fingers to the Wound in His Side?

One would think Thomas would not have dared touch the risen Jesus on his own.  The other two apostles are watching intently.  Did they also still have doubts?  Did they need to see Jesus’ Wounds as well?

How patient Jesus is….willing even to allow His Wounds to be probed in order to satisfy Thomas’ doubts.

Then, looking at Thomas and the others…..perhaps looking down through the centuries, He spoke those most beautiful words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29)

At Mass today, my pastor reminded the congregation that Jesus was speaking about us…those of us,  “..who have not seen and yet believe.”

We are not “blessed” because we have done anything of ourselves.  Rather, we are blessed because God has so generously given to us the gift of Faith, enabling us to believe all that was passed down to us through those very apostles who first entertained doubts about the Resurrection.

Is it not a miracle of grace that we believe in Someone Whom we have never seen with our eyes or heard with our ears or touched, like Thomas?  We believe that He knows and loves us, that He died for us over 2000 years ago.  We believe that He rose from the dead, and that He is coming back someday to take us to live with Him forever in a place called Heaven.

We believe in a God Who is One Being with Three Divine Persons.  We believe that bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at the words of Consecration by a duly ordained priest.

There are some who think we are mad indeed to believe such things.  But, we not only believe, in a sense, we know.  We are sure.  We stake our lives on these tenets of our Creed.

For there is something more going on within us than mere belief.  It is a conviction, wrought within us by the Holy Spirit.  And, each time we assent to the gift of Faith given to us at Baptism, it takes deeper root.  It penetrates our souls, becoming so much a part of us, until we are sure that we would shed every drop of our blood before denying Jesus Christ and the truths taught by His Holy Church.

How is such a thing possible?  Is it not a miracle that you believe what you believe?  That millions upon millions have believed the same things?

Jesus knew it would be so.  That is why He thought of us so long ago.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

Yes Lord, we are blessed indeed. You have given us what we could never possibly earn or deserve…the precious Gift of Faith.

Thank You, Jesus for the Grace to believe, which opens to us the doorway to all of the countless other gifts which You pour into our souls. We pray for those who do not yet believe in You. Please have Mercy on them, that they too may be counted among those who will love You forever.

And thank You for thinking of us so long ago, dear Jesus, and counting us among those whom You called “blessed.”