This week’s gospel reading from Luke appears to be a repeat of last week’s reading from John. Last week we heard of Jesus showing his wounds to the disciples and especially to Thomas who refused to believe unless he saw and touched them. This week we hear of Jesus showing up with the same words, “Peace be with you” and once again showing his wounds with the words “Touch me and see.” Then in true Luke fashion, Jesus asks for something to eat … this is the gospel where he’s accused of being a drunk and a glutton! But all of this talk of wounds and showing wounds isn’t something we generally like to talk about, is it? We would rather avoid wounds all together, right? Wounds frighten us – we are afraid of our wounds, our own and those in others. But I think Jesus’ invitation to “Touch me and see” is an invitation to us to touch our wounds because in them is the hope for healing and resurrection.
The fear we have over wounds comes from our culture. We tend towards a social Darwinism touting “survival of the fittest” and that kind of thinking doesn’t make room for anyone to be hurt, does it? My experience tells me wounds are not easy for anyone, but they are especially hard for men in our culture. It’s OK for women to be wounded … we expect women to be “weaker” don’t we? But we really don’t make it OK for men to experience weakness and wounds. This is where Jesus defies the culture! He gets real and shows his wounds and by them, the disciples are healed. Even in the midst of their “disbelief” as Luke tells us – and seriously, who wouldn’t be confused and disbelieving? – the disciples begin to be healed precisely because Jesus is willing to show his wounds.
Franciscan spiritual leader and author Richard Rohr speaks of our troubled relationship with our wounds. He says that we can basically do two things with our pain. The first is to allow it to transform us – allow ourselves to experience our wounds and pain, work through the suffering, and allow the experience to transform (resurrect) us. The second option is to transmit our pain onto others. Sadly, most people take the second route because the first is scary and hard. Most people are pain transmitters because they have never done the deeper work of letting their wounds be a path to deeper transformation and healing – they are frightened of their wounds and pain. But letting it transform us allows us to become what Henri Nouwen called “wounded healers” – he actually wrote a book called The Wounded Healer. If we stop trying to run from and deny our wounds and instead let them be what they are and transform us, we can become wounded healers instead of “wounded wound-ers” (that’s what we are when we transmit our pain onto others). Being transformed, resurrected if you will, into wounded healers who offer hope to others who are suffering is part of our call as Christians.
I saw this happen last night. Last night, we held our first 12 Step Eucharist for Recovering People at Grace Church. We kept the publicity for this very low key to respect the 12th Tradition of anonymity in recovery. We put it on our Facebook page, I invited some folks I know in the recovery community to spread the word, and we handed out some flyers. Fourteen people showed up and we had an awesome speaker in Eric who likened recovery to his learning to fly a plane. What I seen in the rooms and what I saw in our gathering last night is the fact that people in recovery are brutally honest about their wounds. They know what addiction has done to them and their loved ones. Those committed to sobriety, from whatever addiction they are addressing, show their wounds to each other in the meetings and here last night. In their stories lies hope for recovery for others who are also wounded.
You see, Jesus was resurrected not as the “new and improved” version of himself but rather resurrected as one still bearing his wounds – one whose wounds have been transformed for the sake of all of us. This is also what can be true for us too. When we get real about the wounds in our lives, experience the pain of them, pray for the risen Christ to heal them, and are willing to share our resurrection experience to offer strength, hope and healing to others, these wounds become agents of grace and mercy to a hurting world.
So as we continue celebrating the hope of the resurrection this Eastertide, I invite you to examine your own wounds. Start with ones which have been healed well – those are the easier ones to address. Where might those healed wounds offer hope and encouragement to another? Where might you be hearing the invitation to show them to someone who needs the hope of resurrection in a tangible way? Now take a look at the wounds which may be more raw – the ones that may still be really hard to face because they are so fresh. You may not be ready to share those because they are not yet transformed and sharing them would make you a “wounded wound-er.” Take those to Christ in prayer. Ask for healing of those wounds and offer them to Christ as a gift. Yeah, I know that may sound weird and not the kind of gift we would normally give … but do it anyway. These wounds, offered in prayer and humility, can be transformed if you allow them to be so. And one day, you may very well be able to say to another person who is hurting, “Touch me and see … resurrection is real!"