Jesus shows us his wounds so that we will show him ours. He invites us all to put a finger into his nail prints and a hand into his side not because God was incapable of healing all wounds but because he wants to glorify them instead.
There's a reason why the traditional Easter greeting for Christians is "Christ is Risen" and not "Happy Easter." It's because it's so easy for us to lose sight of what we're supposed to be happy about. Of course, it isn't about bunnies, eggs, or even the marshmallow peeps I like to float on my coffee during the Easter season. It isn't even about longer days, warmer temperatures, and the first flowers that somehow manage to bloom, at times even through the snow. Easter is the one thing that matters more than anything else -- perhaps even more than everything else put together. Christ is Risen! The stone was rolled away. The tomb is empty. And he has appeared to Peter.
It can be hard to grasp what a 2,000-year-old victory has to offer us here and now. Sure, it might make a difference in how we see death, even how we experience it. But the Gospels show us that the Resurrection of Jesus doesn't restore the world back to the way it was before his death on the cross. It didn't make it possible for the disciples to pick up where they had left off the week before or settle a celestial score just to move us all to the next game of the season.
In short, the Resurrection of Jesus didn't really fulfill any of the hopes or expectations of his first disciples. It was completely unexpected. That's why they were frightened and confused, and deeply skeptical of the story Mary Magdalene told them. And that is also why Jesus comes among them in the Upper Room, even though the doors were locked in fear. There are no interrogations or judgments, no disappointment or disapproval. Just "Peace be with you."
And then something rather strange.
Jesus did not appear touting the clean and glorious victory his disciples may have wanted. Instead, "he showed them his hands and his side" (Jn 20:20). Much has been said over the centuries about why Christ did this. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, gives us five compelling reasons why Christ's wounds remain after his Resurrection (see Summa III, Q. 54, Art 4). Christ's glorified wounds are a trophy of victory, confirming evidence of the Resurrection, a testament to the Father of his saving love for us, convincing proof to us of the depth of his love, and testimony against his enemies at the Last Judgment.
I'd like to add a sixth reason to the list: Jesus shows us his wounds so that we will show him ours. He invites us all to put a finger into his nail prints and a hand into his side not because God was incapable of healing all wounds but because he wants to glorify them instead. When we touch the wounds of Christ, our hearts cry out "My Lord and my God!" But when we allow Jesus to touch our wounds, they are transformed by glory into grace and even gift. And that can happen here, not just on the other side of eternity. When it does, we become worthy witnesses to Christ's Resurrection.
The Resurrection of Jesus changes everything. And without it? We've got nothing at all. As St. Paul reminds us, "If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and your faith has been in vain" (1 Cor 15:14). And more, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Cor 15:17). But we have nothing to fear because Christ is Risen. He is truly Risen. He came to the disciples and he still comes to us. The doors of our fearful hearts are not locked to him. What we've done does not deter him. All we've suffered does not hinder him. "Listen, I tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" (1 Cor 15:51-52).
- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and provides freelance editorial services to numerous publishers and authors as the principal of One More Basket. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.