I recently read an older homily from Pope Francis on the resurrected Jesus. In this homily, Pope Francis was reflecting on Jesus’ encounter with the apostle, Thomas, and the Pope had this to say:
“Jesus reveals himself with his wounds […] His whole body was clean, beautiful, full of life, but the wounds were and are still there […] The path to our encounter with Jesus – God are his wounds.”
These words have been sitting on my heart like a ton of bricks. You see, I don’t like sharing my wounds with others. I don’t like admitting my faults, weaknesses, and mistakes. I think there is often an over emphasis on piety in Christianity which puts pressure on Christians to act a certain way or to exude a perfect life for others to see. I often feel that pressure to be pious at the expense of being real. Yet, in reality, I screw up… a lot. I’m cranky around family and friends, I grumble when I have to get up in the middle of the night and tend to the kids, I eat a ton of sweets, I set unreachable expectations for my three year-old daughter, I have made terrible mistakes in my past, I have imperfect relationships with others, the list goes on and on. What’s worse is that I hate admitting it. I hate acknowledging that I’m wrong, and when I don’t have it all together. When I feel that if I don’t have it all together, or share that I messed up, I become vulnerable.
So, as I sit with these words from Pope Francis, I am slapped in the face with the reminder that my God, who was perfect, and like me in every way but sin, was man enough to share his wounds. Yes, my Savior, did not sin, but he carried wounds and showed them to others, particularly his closest friends. He carried hurts, he wept, he questioned, and he shared all of this with his friends and family. His friends got to know who he really was because he was real with them. What’s more is that through those expressions, through the sharing of his wounds, his friends, the apostles, were able to declare Him as God. If Jesus was man enough to share His wounds, than I am called to do the same thing and that scares me. But what am I afraid of? Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m not Jesus, that I’m not perfect. But I think that’s the point. I’m not perfect. There, I said it. However, I am still blessed. There are parts of my life that are clean, beautiful, full of life, just as there are wounds, hurts, mistakes, and suffering. If it is in the wounds of others where I am able to encounter God, then it is through my wounds that I, and those around me, are able to encounter Him too.
When I share my vulnerabilities, and share the depths of my humanity with others, I’m able to love and be loved in new and extraordinary ways! God calls each of us to love, and to love until it hurts, as Mother Theresa famously put it. Perhaps my hurt today will be the pathway to God for me or someone else. In fact, I think it is in our hurts where we find Christ crucified pouring out his love and sharing his experience with us. In our hurts, we should have hope in a God who shares his wounds with us and makes it ok for us to share our wounds with others. If we were whole, we would have no need for anyone else. If we had no need for anyone else, there would be nothing and no one to love, and what a terrible world that would be.