Touch of healed wounds

I’m struck by how the Gospel reading this morning shows Jesus both as present to a community and very personally present to Thomas. Jesus appears to the disciples who are hidden away in a locked room, fearful. He appears, and while they might have expected judgment for the ways that they denied or abandoned him during the Passion, he brings only peace. Jesus breathes the spirit of God on them, not only bringing them reassurance about the past and how it has been redeemed, but also bringing them forward into new life beyond death. They have a mission and purpose. This mission is something they will share with one another, as a community of faith, even after Jesus has ascended into heaven again.

Then there is Thomas. Thomas is away from the others the first time that Jesus appears, and skeptical. He is not satisfied with the testimony of others. He wants to know, see, feel things for himself. He wants the first hand experience of the Lord, something palpable. Jesus’ appearance to Thomas demonstrates that God understands Thomas and wants to give that experience to him, too. Jesus invites him to touch his wounds, to put his hand into his side. What an intimate experience. Ordinarily, if we have physical scars, we would not invite our friends to touch them. Perhaps only a beloved spouse, or parent or like figure (like the old nurse in the Odyssey who sees Odysseus’ wound from youth) would be allowed to touch such a scar. But Jesus invites Thomas into the intimacy of the healed wound. It’s at once a way to touch the past of the Passion and the reality of the Resurrection.

Thomas loved Jesus as a human being and as a friend. When Jesus was suffering and being tortured on the cross, Thomas doubtless also suffered in his own way. So part of Thomas’ aim here, is not only to know that Jesus is resurrected, but also to know that Jesus is resurrected. He is not interested in the resurrected Jesus if this Jesus has no connection to the reality of the past and its history. Thomas wants to see the connection between the Jesus who suffered, died, and was buried and the living, Resurrected Jesus. And Jesus gives him that chance to see that they are one and the same.

For us, too, Jesus invites us into the intimacy of the Resurrection, one that is not a cleaned up version of history, but a resurrection that takes up, transforms and redeems history. Jesus allows his own wounds to be touched, and touches and heals our own wounds, too. Our resurrected selves are ones that take up and incorporate the past, so that we can live meaningfully in the present. Jesus invites us to walk beside him, to converse with him, and to touch and be touched by his friendship. Easter is a time for renewal of our friendship with the Lord–a chance to fall in love all over again with Jesus, a chance to remember all the places in our lives that God has brought healing and new life. We can choose to remember the places in our lives that once were wounded and that God has touched and healed—and receive God’s peace that we may share that peace with others.