Since it is the Easter season still in the Church I’m really gonna try to focus on the resurrection Lord, but I’ll be honest my heart is so entranced with the Passion. Anyways I wanted to point your attention to this past Sunday’s Gospel (John 20:19-31). Jesus appears to His disciples again, but this time Thomas is there. He calls out to Thomas saying “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” This is the story that started the main doubting Thomas, yet I think we are missing something huge here.
First of all, why would Jesus want Thomas to come feel His wounds? Why does the resurrected Lord still bear His wounds? Like why was He not just healed? Clearly the wounds and touching them is supposed to mean something. Because as we know, scripture is more than just what meets the eye, it’s the living word of God.
Thomas here is not just doubting just because, and Jesus isn’t calling Him to touch His wounds to belittle him. Furthermore, I think Thomas’s wounds are more deeply touched by this than Christ’s wounds. For within Christ’s wounds Thomas is seeing His own wounds. His wounds of sorrow, regret, and unbelief. Only a week ago he was mourning a loss, and because of this evil, he allowed doubt to enter his heart. A doubt that God is not the Almighty Ever-living God like he thought, because if He is then why would He allow for such an evil thing to happen. On top of all that he is living in this constant fear of persecution. Key context here guys, THE DOORS ARE LOCKED. The disciples are locking themselves up in fear that they are next. Yet Jesus somehow comes through those locked doors, and He comes to Thomas in a time of doubt, and a time of fear. Why? Because Jesus refuses to leave one of His disciples in the dangerous position of unbelief. He looks at Thomas with complete love and says, “Feel my wounds. Feel my wounds so that I can heal yours.”
Jesus is looking at each and every one of you and saying the same thing. Cast yourself into my most sacred wounds, so that you can be washed, cleansed, redeemed, loved!!
Also, take note of the moment Thomas reveals his wound of unbelief. It’s not in front of the resurrected Lord, no it’s to the disciples, his brothers in Christ. Thomas here shows us what we ought to do when we lose our way and can’t see the light. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Which I think is so important during this time when mental health issues are going through the roof. My friends, it is okay to be not okay. But what’s not okay is to stay in the dark. We all need help carrying our crosses sometimes. Because guess what? We are NOT God. We will stumble and we will fall, and we will have those moments of doubt and fear. And unless we cry out and be honest, and reach out to be healed, we will continue to sit in the dark. Just like Thomas, you are made for so much more! God is not mad at you because you are doubtful or fearful, but His heart is torn that you won’t cry out to Him for help.
So promise me this: No more stomping up the stairs, taking it out on your spouse, or pretending you’re okay. You maintain your “sanity” on a lie. You console yourself on the lie that you’re okay. So promise me, please, that instead you are going to talk about it. In prayer, and if you’re still in a dark spot please do not hesitate to reach out to a friend, priest, spiritual director, parent, spouse, someone, just please do not walk alone. Judas walked alone, and I do not have to explain that any further.
Before I wrap this up I want to give another beautiful example of the resurrected Lord at work. Let’s look at Peter. We all know Peter was one of the first disciples. He loved Jesus with His whole heart, but he had his moments, the most painful for him being the passion of Christ where he denied Christ three times while warming himself over a fire. Then Jesus dies and rises again. Flash forward, Peter is still feeling pretty down about himself. Yeah the Lord is risen, but he feels like an awful friend. He feels the affliction of His own sin. So he goes out fishing, and the disciples decide they want to go to (BECAUSE NO ONE SHOULD WALK ALONE)…. Anyways, back to the story. So they go fishing and they fish all night yet they catch nothing. As a person who’s also a huge fan of fishing, I know if you’re out fishing that long and you’re okay with catching nothing, you’re not just fishing to fish. You’re out fishing because you’re hurting, because your heart has this hole that just cannot seem to be healed. Then what happens next?
Jesus appears on the shore, and calls out to them. Peter jumps out of the boat, goes running to Jesus, and he sees the fire Jesus has prepared, along with some fish and bread. In this moment, Peter is probably having flashbacks. The last time he saw Jesus prepare a meal, his denial was foretold, and the last time he probably sat around a charcoal fire was when he warmed himself during his denial. I think we can all relate to Peter in this moment. We can relate to those certain triggers that provoke flashbacks. To those moments when we messed up, when we turned against God, and we feel guilty. These moments make our heart sink, but guess what, I have said it a million times and I am going to say it again: Jesus loves you and wants to heal you.
And all of that is what is played out in the conversation that follows, which leads me to what inspired me to write this in the first place. I was having a Peter moment, I was pretty happy. I was having a really beautiful moment with Jesus, but within my heart there was hurt, there was fear, and there was guilt. Then I heard Jesus say “Do you love me?”
And in my head I said, “yes Lord, I do love You.” Which immediately brought me to this moment in scripture. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”* He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.”John 20:15-17
In this moment Jesus is pressing in deep. Jesus already knows that Peter loves Him, but yet Jesus still asks three times. It’s as if Jesus wants Peter to hear himself say I love you, so he can forgive himself for denying him. He wants Peter to drown the sound of the lies that tell him he’s not good enough. The lie that he is the betrayer, or that he is unforgivable. Jesus wants Peter to recognize his own goodness, to see why he is chosen by God to be a disciple. Notice he calls him Simon son of John, which he has not called him that since back when Jesus first called him to be a disciple. Emphasizing further that, Jesus is piercing deep into his heart and soul that can only be understood between Christ and Peter. Jesus wants Peter to remember who he truly is: a beloved son of God.
It’s so often in life we let our own sinful past and shame define our future with Christ. Or we let the fact that we are upset or don’t understand what’s going on hold us back from being held. But then Jesus allows us to say “I still love you, I still trust you.” And that right there is all we need to do. It’s that famous divine mercy prayer…. “Jesus I trust in You”.