Easter Week 3 Homily from Fr Greg: Find the Risen Lord in the wounded people around us.
Once again this week, our Gospel takes us back to that first Sunday of the Resurrection. The Church insists on reminding us where to find the Risen Christ, and teaches us Basic Christian Survival Tactics.
Today, the readings lead us one step further. We can also find the Risen Lord hidden in the hurting and wounded people around us. You see we are all fundamentally wounded; you and I, all of us; and the Church was designed by Jesus to be close to those who suffer and to heal hearts wounded by sin. Pope Francis tells us that:
“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. … [So, then] … heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up.”
So we ought to start from the ground up … with whoever happens to come to you, distant from God and wounded by evil. We make ourselves near to them, we put ourselves beside them, so as to enrich them with our faith. Which seems to be what Jesus himself did in today’s Gospel. He came back for the others and he showed them his hands and feet, and then they knew it was the same Jesus they’d seen hanging lifeless on the Cross. And they knew they could depend on him.
But what dumbfounded the disciples wasn’t just that he’d come back to them from the tomb, but that he was resurrected in the body, complete with the wounds he had received on the Cross! He showed them his wounded limbs, and told them, “Peace be with you!” Yes, you may be wounded right now, by anger, or feeling hurt by others, by someone having taken advantage of your kindness, but it doesn’t have to lead you into sin! You don’t have to retaliate, Instead, you can learn Jesus’ peaceful form of retaliation: carry your crosses to become wounded healers! Starting from the ground up also means first overcoming within ourselves the harmful effects of our sins. We test the medicine out first of all on ourselves.
Like any good patient, we have to follow the instructions given to us by the physician; we listen to what he says and obey what he tells us to do. By doing so, God’s love takes hold in us and comes to perfection in us; together we create new habits, risen habits, we grow in virtue and holiness.
But let’s go back to those wounded hands and feet that Jesus showed them. We can still be holy even if we’ve had a lot of wounds - past sins - and still have misdirected passions. How about that! The wounds remained in his Risen Body even after the resurrection!! You would have thought that God the Father would have stitched them up, but no. The disciples saw his wounds remained open, because the reality of Christ’s Body today is that he is resurrected yet still crucified in countless people all around us. We can find him there, we can tend to him there, under the distressing disguise of suffering people. It is as if to say to them: you want to find me today? Then go looking for me wherever someone is wounded and you will find me.
Jesus finished by reminding us that we “are witnesses to all this.” We are meant to be both proof of the power of the medicine, of God’s grace working in us, and signposts pointing out Christ’s presence in human misery around us. So, if you want to know the answer to the question: “Where can I find the risen Lord today”, then know he makes himself present in those around us who are most wounded or in need. And that is where he still is today.