Healing by the Wounds of Risen Christ.
Life in the Spirit Session # 1 – April 19, 2006
By Father Jose Uppani
It cannot escape the notice of even a most casual observer that Jesus after his resurrection took a special interest in pouring out love on the disciples, on healing their wounds of guilt and frustration. A close observation of his words and deeds during this time will be most convincing. The very first thing he wanted of Mary Magdalene as he appeared to her was to ask his disciples to hasten to Galilee to meet Him (cfr. Mt. 28:9). According to both Mathew‟s and Johns‟ gospel, the word he used to address them in his conversation with Mary Magdalene was “my brethren” (cfr. Mt. 28:9; Jn.20: 17)—a salutation they couldn‟t even dream of at that time when they were caught in frustration resulting from their disloyalty and desertion at the most crucial moments of his life. Even when they were indifferent and unresponsive to the report of Mary Magdalene that Jesus has risen and that he had asked them to go to Galilee to meet him, he sort them out where they were. And he entered the locked room as if he was impatient to wait until the door was opened! Note the way he greeted them: "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed
them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (Jn. 20:19-20).
What an affectionate greeting it was! His behavior and conduct were strongest expressions of his fervent love and affection for them.
By saying “Peace be with you” Jesus was telling them that his love for them was not lessened even a bit on account of their unfaithfulness during his Passion and that he was willing to accept them with the same love he had before. He was in fact healing their oppressive wound of guilt by repeating those two words of profound love and reconciliation. Showing them his hands and side was not only a proof of his resurrection, but more than that it was an intimate sharing of his love and friendship with them. He was giving them an opportunity to enter deep within His tremendous love for them, which he expressed most evidently by suffering crucifixion for them. If cicatrice on the palm of a dad due to the constant hard labor to feed his family is considered a strong mark of his love for his beloved spouse and children, how much more should the wounds of Jesus on his palms and side, eloquent marks of his most humiliating death for their salvation be treated and valued as clear proof of his infinite love for his beloved disciples! In fact, by showing them his wounds after the Resurrection he was reaffirming his intense love for them in spite of their non-cooperation in his trials and suffering. In other words he was showing them his wounds as a monument of his unconditional and everlasting love for them. “He loved his own
in the world and he loved them to the end…So, during supper, …he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist”(Jn. 13:
1—5). If washing their feet was the typical sign of His love for them, the glorified wounds on his hands and side which denote His suffering for them are certainly a more powerful memorial of His everlasting love for them!
Again, his eager pursuit of the two disciples who were fleeing from Jerusalem to Emmaus was another touching expression of his forgiving love. The Lord‟s compassionate love
for the unfaithful disciples is very much highlighted in this episode. Knowing their distress and frustration, the Lord accompanies them a long way consoling them all the time. In order to give them a permanent liberation from their frustration and a total healing of the inner wounds inflicted in them by the terrible events of his passion and death, Jesus asks them a series of questions to dig out all the pain they had suppressed in their minds. And very cordially he
welcomed their sentiments as a loving Mom patiently listens attentively to narration of her little child‟s small, small frustrations! Even though he upbraided them a little bit for their disbelief and hardness of heart he try to convince them of the need of his crucifixion at length. This he did by taking each and every prophecy about him in the Old Testament, showing them how they were fulfilled in His Passion and Death. Why did he venture on such a tiresome job just for the two disciples who had deserted him and even the community of his disciples? Jesus was using the occasion to emphasize that the vital part of his mission was to feel compassion for all those who were in distress, no matter how much they deserved their faith, because, their inner wounds were responsible for their negative reaction. The next important thing Jesus wants to let us know is that he is in right earnest to see that all our inner wounds that cause our failures are healed once and for all. It was the disciples‟ misunderstanding of the Messiah and his mission that led
them to disown him at His Passion and Crucifixion. He knew well that making them fully conscious of the need of crucifixion alone would give them a permanent healing of their afflictions. Hence he took a pretty long time to explain to them very patiently which ultimately resulted in their fully getting healed of despair, sadness, fear, lack of faith, etc.
The episode of Jesus‟ going to the shore of Tiberias before dawn in search of six of the Apostles who had gone back to their old job of fishing is very, very appealing. The Lord had already told them at the very outset when he called them from the sea-shore that they were not supposed to go fishing any more, because they were to be fishers of men ( cfr. 5:10-11). Hence, going fishing even after the appearance of the Risen Lord was something that could be ignored. Here, again, the Lord shows tremendous patience and compassion. He didn‟t even utter a word of reproach! Instead he began to pour out love on them. Preparing breakfast for them so early in the morning, lovingly taking it to the sea shore by himself, warming it again on the shore to make it fresh, serving the food by himself with the tenderness of a Mom—all these were good
enough to expel all guilt and fear from their hearts and powerful enough to heal them of their wanton unfaithfulness. Rewarding them with a fabulous catch of fish instead of reproaching them for going fishing again—what a tremendous act of healing love!
Significance of Sacred wounds in healing our being
His showing the wounds to his disciples has a still deeper meaning. The Scripture clarifies it. St. Peter summaries the whole of Christ's Redemption in these words: "He (Jesus)
himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed" (I Pet.2:24). The meaning of these words is
obvious-significance of Jesus' wounds lies in the fact that it is the most potent medicine to heal the wounds of humanity caused by sin. It is very evident that from the above words of St. Peter that a state of wounded nature in man before his redemption is presupposed.. This is exactly what we mean by the "Original Sin". And the healing of this wounded human nature is actually the redemption Jesus won for us. Therefore, to know about our wounded nature and the means for it‟s healing is very important to personalize Christ's Redemption that he has earned for us through His death and Resurrection.
The "wounded nature" in man?
Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it thus: " By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself, but for all human beings (CCC 416). "Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this
deprivation is called 'original sin'" (ccc417). CCC418 says: "As a result of original sin, human nature was weakened in its powers; fell victim to ignorance, suffering, and worst of all- the curse of death; and inclined to sin (This inclination is called 'concupiscence')". rd chapter of the book of Genesis gives us an exact account of the "wound" created The 3
in man by sin. It is a four-fold alienation. God called it "death": "You are free to eat from any of
the trees of the garden except from the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat you are surely be doomed to die" (Gen. 2: 16-17). It is obvious
that Adam did not die on the day he ate the forbidden fruit in the sense of a physical death. But he actually died. The Scripture gives a detailed account of the nature of that death:
(1) Alienation from God-the source of life and every happiness.
"Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives" ( ccc. 399). "So she
took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. When they heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord among the trees of the garden"( Gen. 3:6-8). This means Adam lost the holiness
required to be in the presence of God, which he possessed before he broke God's command. He got alienated from God by sin. This is the fundamental "wound" transmitted to every human being as the result of the original sin. Each one of us is in this alienation. Thus Scripture says: " God looks down from heaven upon the human race, to see if even one is wise, if even one seeks God. All have gone astray" (Psalms.53:3).
It is this alienation from God, deep rooted in us that make our relationship with God very difficult, especially the establishment of an intimate and deep friendship with Him. Naturally, we are inclined to love the created world more than the Creator; we are often tempted to love ourselves more than God; we are tempted to ignore the Commandments, the Gospel values and the Teachings of the Church and choose to follow the style and ways of the world; we are drawn to seek our own comfort and convenience in everything we do instead of seeking what God desires from us. That is why even in our spiritual journey we choose what we feel comfortable with rather than accepting everything God offers us, surrendering totally to God's will as Virgin Mary did in her "fiat".
(2) Alienation from the neighbor.
Catechism says: "The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination" ( 400).
"Then He asked, 'Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!' The man replied, 'The woman whom you put here with me-she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it" (Gen. 3:11-12). This shows that Adam got alienated from
others-Even from his own flesh and bone". This wound of Adam and Eve is transmitted into every human being and it is expressed by division, hatred, disunity, anger, judging attitude, inability to love one's neighbor as one loves oneself.
It is because of this wound deep within us that we are not able to love others, as they deserve. Thus the spouses who are made one in "flesh" by the virtue of the sacrament of matrimony seek divorce or separation!! Those who marry after a long-term courtship and break up, undermining the oath they took before God, Church and the community. Thus the very mothers and fathers who vowed to live for their children, separate themselves at the risk of causing irreparable damage to the mental,, spiritual and social dignity and growth of their children! Thus, brother hates brother, children despise parents, nations fight each other and so on and so forth.
(3) Alienation from the Creation.
Catechism says: "Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay" ( 400). "To the
man he said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, " Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as eat of the plants of the field: ( Gen.
3:17-18). " You shall be banned from the soil that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a restless wanderer on earth" ( Gen. 4: 11-12). It means that man was also alienated
from the created world over which he had authority. As a result of sin man became the slave of the material world! This wound also is there innate in every human being. And man is ruled by a slavish attachment to the things of the world!
Nature retaliates in various ways. The poor yield from the soil in spite of the hard work put in and many new cropped up hurdles in tapping the resources of the beautiful world God created for us! Frequent occurrences of natural calamities! The Bible says : "God changed rivers into desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, Fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its people" ( Ps. 107:33-34).
(4) Alienation from oneself.
Catechism says: "The control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered" (ccc 400). False love for oneself reached to the point of seeking self-gratification, even through base means, thereby wounding oneself more and more! Besides, man lost his genuine love and respect for himself. Instead, false love for oneself, self-hate, sense of guilt etc developed.
“Cain said to the Lord: 'My punishment is too great to bear. Since you have banished me from the soil, and I must avoid your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, any one may kill me at sight." (Gen. 4: 14-15). This shows that in consequence of his sin man hates himself! This wound also is transmitted to every human being in the form of self-contempt, self-hatred, difficulty in forgiving oneself even after God has granted forgiveness, lack of self-confidence etc.
These four types of alienations - alienation from God, alienation from fellow beings, alienation from the created world, and alienation from oneself-distress every human heart.
Sin inflicts a very deep wound in the human heart. "Every offence is a two-edged sword;
when it cuts, there can be no healing" ( Sirach.21:3).
The immediate result of Adam's sin was that it inflicted an incurable wound in every human heart. We can see this in God's assessment of the condition of man after his fall: "Yahweh
saw that human wickedness was great on earth and that human hearts contrived nothing but wicked schemes all day long" (Gen. 6: 5). The prophet Jeremiah lamented: "The heart is the most
deceitful thing there is, and desperately wicked. No one can really know how bad it is. Only the Lord knows! He searches all hearts and examines deepest motives ...(Jer. 17:9-10). In fact the thth and 10 Commandments is in the context of this wounded nature within man. relevance of the 9
Both these Commandment are given to safeguard the heart against sin. And Jesus emphasized that the actual sinfulness is that of the heart than that of the actions: " From within people, from
their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile"(Mk. 7:21-23). And Jesus' criticism of the Pharisees was based on the same: "Even so, on
the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evil doing" (Mt.
St. Paul's explanation
St. Paul explains this situation thus: " I am sold into slavery with Sin as my owner. I don't
understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can't. I do what I don't want to-what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can't help myself, because I'm no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things. I know I am rotten through and through as far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can't make myself do right. I want to but I can't. Now if I am doing what I don't want to, it is plain where the trouble is : sin still has me in its evil grasp. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love to do God's will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin (Rom. 7:14-23).
This scripture highlights the following truths: (1) Every one have still within him a lower nature which forces him to sin. (2) All are helpless and fail to overcome it. (3) It is this wounded nature that prevents a person from doing the good he really wants to do.
There is a solution! - Jesus Christ!!!
St. Paul continues his lamentation: "Oh, what a terrible predicament I'm in! Who will free
me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free" (Rom. 7: 25). Here St. Paul, on the basis of the revelation he has received from God, ascertains that by his death and resurrection Christ has set me free, he has healed my wounded nature.
It is Jesus' wounds that heal our wounds
St. Peter specifies how we receive this fundamental healing of our wounded nature: “By his wounds you have been healed" ( I Pet. 2:24). It is noteworthy that when Jesus appeared after finishing his redemptive works-his suffering, death and resurrection-he always appeared with the marks of his crucifixion, the glorified wounds in his body. The sacred heart that was pierced while he was on the cross, turned out to be the eternal fountain of healing for the whole humanity. The Gospels says that Jesus healed the disciples of their wounds-wounds of guilt.