This reflection on the Sunday of Divine Mercy is on John 20:19-31.
When I was 10, I cut myself doing an Art Project. I must have used the wrong tool or just made the wrong move, but before I knew it, my finger was bleeding. Profusely. Nobody else was in the room, and so I did what only a frightened 10-year old would do: I pretended it didn’t happen. To dull the pain, I shook my finger as vigorously as I could. But the pain didn’t go away, the bleeding didn’t stop, and I realized, to my horror, that I had splattered blood all over the furniture.
Fortunately, I didn’t wait long to get the much-needed help, but also, unfortunately, the equally needed scolding. But that childhood accident has left a mild scar on my left ring finger. If I had a choice, I would have preferred a complete healing that left no scar, but the scar has a story, and every time I see that scar or touch it, I remember the incident as though it just happened yesterday. The memories come rushing back: the vivid images of multicolored paper, the cold feel of the scissors, the fear racing through my heart, and the sight–and smell–of blood.
There’s no powerful reminder like a scar.
I mention this experience because in the Gospel story, the Risen Lord shows his hands and side to the unbelieving Thomas. These are not, mind you, scars he shows his friend, but wounds. Invited to touch these wounds with his hands, Thomas could only cry out, “My Lord and my God!” We can guess why. Thomas knows the story of the Lord’s wounds, and very vividly the memories, packed with all their emotions, must have come rushing back to him too.
I have often wondered why in his resurrection, our Lord decided not only to keep a human body, but to pick his old one, complete with all the wounds inflicted on him at the crucifixion. I mean, why not pick a brand new human body without those terrible wounds? This is especially puzzling given our contemporary age’s obsession with beauty. People who have the means and the choice would, without batting an eyelash, opt for flawless skin, among other things.
Maybe the Lord decided to keep his wounds so that they would remind us of what he has done for us, and move us to faith, as they did so powerfully for doubting Thomas.
But I suspect he has kept his wounds to remind not us, but himself of what he went through. Each time he sees his wounds, he himself will remember the great love he has borne for us, a love for which he went through such great pains to keep. And so, whenever we become our least loveable selves, as we often do, all the Lord Jesus needs to do is to gaze at the wounds on his hands, side, and feet, and he turns into what the very heart of God was, is, and will always be.
And what is the heart of God?
Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.