Sunday, May 27, 2012


“The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well.

As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.”

~ Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Something Glorious

Before we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord tomorrow, I’d like to say something about His resurrected body. The body that penetrated the wall of the cenacle to visit with the apostles, the one that ate cooked fish, the one that Jesus invited Thomas to probe with his fingers, the contours of His holy wounds. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I would like to examine those wounds here, myself.

Artwork by The Apostles of Infinite Love of the Order of the Magnificat of the Mother of God

Perhaps you’ve wondered on occasion why Jesus retained these wounds in His body that had been restored to life anew. Why did He not heal Himself of those wounds and return to us with no sign of having been injured? Why did He choose to appear to us with punctures remaining in His hands, feet and heart?

I am going to venture that He did it for several reasons, quite the same as everything else He does accomplishes many things all at once.

For one, quite literally, it was for Thomas the doubter to alleviate his condition of doubt. If Thomas had been the only human being to exist, and our Lord knew that Thomas needed to probe those wounds with his own fingers in order to believe that the body in which Christ appeared to Him was really a fleshly body, and in fact Jesus’ body, our Lord would have retained those wounds for his sake alone.

Yet, it is not only for Thomas, but for those who might be reading the story later on who would identify with the attitude of Thomas themselves. It is for them who might also be led to greater faith through reading Thomas’ experience of probing the wounds and his realization that Jesus is risen from the dead.

But to go a little deeper than the superficial quality of those wounds and that they reveal our Lord as risen, there is the fact of His injury to take into account. That is, in retaining these wounds, our Lord reminds us of what He did for love of us. Or, in other words, He reminds us that He loves us.

His wounds are a place in which He holds us in a special way. Our suffering may be placed within these wounds of Christ as He is on the throne of heaven and offering His own prayer intentions for our sake. These wounds of Christ help us to remember that our suffering is not forgotten.

Furthermore, that it has value. For, if our Lord had wiped away all trace of His suffering in this world, what would that say of ours? That suffering is something to be eradicated and forgotten? Ah, but it is not. For in His taking suffering upon Himself, suffering itself was sanctified and in fact reversed in meaning, if you will, from what Satan had hoped and intended it to be… from what it was before Jesus came to clothe Himself in it.

Finally, the retained wounds are the visible sign that we are forgiven, and they help us to enter into understanding what it means to forgive. As we know, when we are injured by another there is inevitably a scar of some sort left behind. Even when the one who has injured us apologizes, this does not undo the fact that a wound has been inflicted. It may remove the nail that pierced us, but a puncture remains in its place. Time will heal it giving way to a scar which will remain.

So, in yet another beautiful and profound way, Christ is showing us the reality of sin and He is choosing to retain those marks of our transgressions in His body, just as we retain the marks of sin in our bodies in various ways, and He is showing us once more that He is with us, even still.  

Our sufferings borne in likeness to Christ transform us into His very image even as we are here on earth. The suffering of illness borne with patience and devotion to the Father in trust that His plan will bring us to experience the resurrection of our bodies anew helps us to retain the wounds we bear here in the understanding that they are acknowledged and valuable in heaven, and indeed something glorious.