Glorious wounds

The Gospels present us with two types of post-Resurrection appearance. In the first, Jesus interacts with his followers - in one case for some hours - but goes completely unrecognised. Was this due to anguish and disbelief, or could he really have looked so utterly different? And then he says a name or does something familiar - breaks bread, suggests where to cast nets - and suddenly, for his grieving followers, the darkness disappears and the wonderful light of recognition dawns.

In the second type, Jesus is recognised straightaway - the joy is immediate and there is no mention of incredulity, except from the absent Thomas. In John's Gospel Jesus appears among his disciples, says "peace be with you" and shows them his hands and side: his ugly wounds, evidence of defilement, torture and suffering. Here, with these wounds, the disciples have instant recognition, unbearably so in Thomas's case.

I love the fact that the Risen Jesus chose to keep his wounds: in all his glory, he still remains indelibly scarred, and by his wounds he is known. The difference, though, is that through the Resurrection his wounds have now been transformed and made glorious. Pain and woundedness have not been eliminated, but they have been redeemed.

And so it is for us. We too carry our indelible scars and wounds - the painful memories, situations and episodes - which have been seared on our psyches and become an inextricable part of who and how we are. Our inner fragility may not be instantly obvious, we may keep our broken hearts well hidden, we may think we've got over something; whatever... like Jesus, none of us are unscarred. The invitation the Risen Jesus offers us is to let death-conquering Love work its healing power in us, so that we can be healed and made whole. And in this slow, often hidden, at times painful process, our inner wounds can also be transformed and become glorious signs of God alive and at work in us. That, at least, has been my experience thus far; and I pray it may continue to be so.

By his holy and glorious wounds may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us (Easter liturgy)

Have a blessed Easter, filled with the joy of Jesus's presence and the strength of his love.