Touching the Wounds of Christ

4.15.18. Sun. 3rd. wk of Easter – B

Acts of the Apostles  3: 13 – 15, 17 – 19

First Letter of St. John  2:  1 – 5a

Gospel  of  Luke  24: 35 – 48

Please refer to your own Bible for the Scripture readings.

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                       Touching The Wounds of Christ

The two disciples mentioned at the beginning of today’s Gospel, had encountered †Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  And Luke tells us, before the encounter, the two disciples “were conversing about all the things that had occurred”. (Luke 24:14)   The Greek word in the New Testament, that describes: “conversing”, also has a sense of ‘arguing’ and ‘debating’.  One can imagine the two of them walking along the road, trying to place blame for the death of †Jesus.  “It was those Romans’, or ‘the Sanhedrin’, or ‘those cowardly apostles that wouldn’t stand up for Him in the Garden of Gethsemani’.  We know that later, they would recognize †Jesus: “In the breaking of the bread”. (Luke 24:35)

But in the presence of †Jesus, all that hostility, all that anger, all that blaming, had completely disappeared and they were at peace – talking to this stranger – later to be revealed as †Jesus.  We know they raced back to Jerusalem to the room where the apostles were hiding. Then, †Jesus appears again and says: “Peace be with you”.  †Jesus offered them the peace that only He can give, a peace that comes from being in the presence of †Jesus; knowing that He is with us, and that He is alive.  And when we are convinced of that, we get this sense of peace – we don’t have to worry – we don’t have to be upset, we don’t have to be in conflict because we know †Jesus is there and He loves us.  What does †Jesus say to those gathered in the locked room?  “Look at my hands and my feet – touch me and see”. (Luke 24:39)

By seeing and touching the wounded body of †Jesus, they would know that Christ was truly present with them.  He was not a ghost, or some figment of their imagination.  The Gospel account points to a reality of the resurrection of †Jesus – that †Jesus is on THIS side of the grave; He is with us, now – in this life!  He is not in some distant dimension – detached from our lives. †Jesus is here!  He is with us!  He is all around us!  He is present in our Church this evening; He is present in your homes when you go home tonight.  We encounter †Jesus not only in the Eucharist, but we encounter †Jesus in wounded humanity.  He is with us in the hungry, the naked, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned.  †Jesus is here with us tonight in our brothers and sisters who live with special needs.  He is present with people who live extraordinary lives in the presence of †Jesus – here and now.  Do we possess the faith to see †Jesus around us?

Dorothy Day, who was the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, wrote: “How do we know indeed, we have faith?  Because we have seen His hands and His feet in the poor around us – He has shown Himself to us – in them.  We start by loving them, for Him, and soon we love them for themselves, each one – a unique person, most special.” (Dorothy Day Selected Writings; Robert Ellsberg, ed. (1983); Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY).

We believe that †Jesus Christ is risen and we grow in faith when we can see †Jesus in one another – when we are not afraid to touch the wounds of Christ – in the wounds of humanity or – when the wounded of humanity touches us and we are not afraid.  The path to eternal glory is through sacrificial love.  The cross is the key to heaven’s gate.  And we enter the way of this ‘glorifying love’ when we respond to these words of †Jesus, “Look at my hands and my feet.  Touch me and see” (Luke 24:39); when we respond with love to the wounded around us.  How do we know who is wounded?  Let me let you in on a little secret – we are all wounded – all of us are!  Some of our wounds are more obvious than others! Every one of us here is wounded – every one of us.

I don’t know if your have ever been to Chartres – and seen the Cathedral there.  It is a beautiful Church, with lots of beautiful, colorful windows.  In one of the windows †Jesus is pictured with seven doves around Him, like a crown; seven doves!  And those doves represent the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  All of you (the special needs parishioners) receiving Sacraments, tonight are receiving those seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit tonight.  The seven Gifts of the Spirit that you will be given tonight, that most of us have already received, are:

‘Wisdom’ – wisdom to help us make the right decisions.

‘Understanding’ – to possess the compassion of God.

‘Counsel’ – a willingness to be guided by others.

‘Fortitude’ – the strength not to give up – but to keep trying.

‘Knowledge’ – to know God’s will.

‘Piety’ – to have reverence for God – and for the God we see in one another.

And lastly – ‘Fear of the Lord’ – which means to be a amazed at God’s goodness – to be in awe of     God’s goodness.  To be able to say: “You are an awesome God” – that is ‘Fear of the Lord’.

In a few moments – through the Sacrament of Confirmation – these young people, with extraordinary abilities, will receive these Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are a sign that we participate in the life of Christ.  Daily we must meditate on who we are called to be.  We are called to be disciples of †Jesus – to participate in †Jesus – wherever †Jesus is – and †Jesus is everywhere.   To participate in Christ is to participate in His Mission.  It is not to be enslaved to be involved in the lives of others – but to be willing to touch the wounds of †Jesus in others.

Servant of God, Dorothy Day writes: “How can I help but think of these things every time I sit down…and look at (those) around us who are going through their long, continuing crucifixion.  It is surely an exercise of faith for us to see Christ in each other.  But it is through such an exercise that we grow, and the joy of our vocation assures us that we are on the right path”. (ibid)

Families with special-need members and for those who care for people with special needs: “Rejoice and be Glad” – because you are on the right path.  Those we care for, those we love, those we reach out to – when we do that, †Jesus reminds us: “This is my body, this is my blood”. (Matt. 14: 22, 24) (As Fr. Mike speaks the words of Jesus, he addresses a particular special-needs person.  Then, moving on to a second person – Fr. Mike repeats the words of Jesus) : “This is my body, this is my blood”.  It is †Jesus saying this to us: “This is my body, this is my blood”.

There is truth about those we see as different than us – those we tend to avoid – and the truth is this – †Jesus is in them.  What you do to them – you do to †Jesus.  What you do for them – you do for †Jesus.  It is by sharing in their wounds that we recognize the Presence of the Risen Christ in our midst.  So if you struggle in believing in the reality of God, seek out the wounded – those who carry crosses – and you will hear the Lord say in the depth of your heart:

“Look at my hands and my feet.  Touch me and see”. (Luke 24:39)

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.