April 11, 2021; John 20: 19-31; Second Sunday of Easter
In today’s gospel the risen Jesus appears to the disciples. The first thing he does is grant them peace, but the second thing he does is he shows them the scars of his passion. Now, why would Jesus do this? This is after all a resurrection story. The passion is over. He now has a glorified body free from any pain of suffering. Good Friday is past. So why are the marks of the nails in his hands still there? They are there to tell us that a wound can become a scar, and scars should not be hidden.
A wound and a scar are not the same. A wound is an open gash bleeding and painful. A scar is a wound that has been healed. So, a scar is a sign that blood and pain are over. The scars in the risen body of Christ testify that his suffering is done, that his wounds have been healed by the power of God. The marks of Jesus’ passion remain on his body because they are now part of who he is. Jesus shows those scars to the disciples because he wants them to understand that his suffering and resurrection are connected. Jesus is not simply one who has been raised from the dead. Jesus is one who has suffered and has been raised from the dead. The scars on his glorified body give witness to the truth that pain is not wasted, and wounds can be overcome.
That, of course, is the message for us, that our wounds can be overcome. None of us moves through life without being wounded in some way. A person we love deeply dies. Through misunderstanding we hurt to a son, daughter, or friend in a lasting way. We break an important relationship because of a careless word or action. The scars in Jesus’ risen body are there to assure us that the blood and pain of those wounds can be overcome. Jesus, of course, received his wounds as an innocent victim. We often are not so guiltless. Yet the hope of healing still extends to us. Through God’s grace, through the love of others, through our own patient endurance as time passes, our wounds can become scars. And our scars should not be hidden, because they are a part of who we are. They are a part of our story like Jesus’ scars were part of his story. We are only being honest when we say, “Yes, I’m the person whose father died much too young. I’m the one whose demands alienated my daughter. I’m the one whose decisions have placed my family in financial jeopardy.”
The gospel wants us to admit that our injuries are a part of us. Our hurts cannot be erased, they can only be healed. And that is why we must not hide our scars from ourselves or others. They are the signs of healing. They are signs to remind us that that God has been faithful, that others have loved us, that our future can still be blessed—that we can move from death to resurrection.