The message given in the Gospel today is an easy one to reflect on. Even without seeing the message of love and faith, it is probably one of the best and most comforting messages we can receive. We Christians of today have not seen, in person, the Risen Christ. We only have the gift of faith from God and the witness of the early Christians. Through their witness and our gift of faith, the Church that Christ founded has been here for over two thousand years. I have heard and read this Gospel many times. I can see the message of faith in it clearly, but there is something in this Gospel that causes me to pause and reflect. Why? Why would the risen and glorified Christ still have the wounds from His passion? He has just completed the task that God the Father had asked him to do. For God’s glory and our own salvation, He has defeated sin and death. Just a short time after this, He will ascend into Heaven and sit at the righthand of God on the throne of power as our true and only King. So, why the wounds?
Jesus was called Rabbi or Teacher during His earthly ministry, and I believe He never stops teaching us how to love one another. He had been betrayed, beaten, whipped, crowned with thorns, mocked, and crucified. He has been deeply marked by injuries, humiliation, and death. Yet, what are the first words He says, “Peace. I forgive you.” The apostles can see the wounds they contributed and yet Christ forgives them. He teaches us that forgiveness, even when not deserved, does not take away the wounds inflicted but it does ease the burden of carrying them. When we are filled with God’s forgiveness, we know how appropriate it is to offer forgiveness without it being earned. Forgiveness frees. We are no longer stuck, caught, or bound down. We can see the power of forgiveness and power of Christ’s wounds in Thomas.
Thomas is defeated. He is incredibly sad. His Master, his Teacher, his Friend has been killed. All the words and teachings that Jesus has spoken seem to be lost. Everything he loved is gone. He is a desperate man. But when he sees the Risen Jesus and the wounds He still carries, Thomas falls to his knees, and is healed and forgiven, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus has taught us to forgive seventy times seven times and through many parables He has taught the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is so central to our lives that our own forgiveness is affected by our ability to forgive. Being able to forgive as Christ does, wounds and all, allows us to be free and love as Jesus loves us.
May Jesus live in our hearts forever.