It’s taken several decades, but finally I think I see why it is significant that Saint Thomas demands to see Jesus’ wounds in order to have faith: the wounds in Jesus’ body are evidence that the resurrected Jesus is the same Jesus as the one who died on the cross. There must be material continuity between our earthly body and the resurrection body, because (among other reasons) our souls are not the whole story about us. We are soul-and-body unities, not just in this life but for ever.
The wounds in Jesus’ body are also, I think, his receptiveness to the woundedness of the whole human situation. On the cross, Jesus takes on the whole mess that we humans have made. Despising one another, lying, killing, betraying, abandoning—he takes it all on himself. His wounds are the effects of sin in the world, inflicted upon his innocent body.
In the resurrection, his wounds are transformed into his glory. In Charles Wesley’s hymn (“Lo, he comes with clouds descending”) they are “glorious scars” that we will get to look upon with rapture. We can hope also that our own wounds will be transformed into glorious things.
I have been told of a therapist, some of whose patients have had almost unimaginably awful experiences. This therapist then meditates on a print (that she keeps at hand) of Caravaggio’s “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas.” In this painting, Thomas is putting a finger into the wound in Jesus’ side, as other disciples look upon the scene with awe. The therapist feels that her patients can, in a way, become Jesus. When they allow their wounds to be seen, they are like Jesus. And there is of course a profound holiness in such a moment, and a hope of transformation.
Sometimes even in this life, wounds can become scars with their own measure of glory.
Out & About. The next Good Books & Good Talk seminar will be on Sunday, May 21, at 5pm, on War in Heaven by Charles Williams.
On the Web. I noted one of these a few months ago, but it seems The New Atlantis now has put all three outside the paywall. “Phoneless, Carless, Friendless” are three intriguingly offbeat essays on “living under lonelytech when you can’t beat the system”: https://www.thenewatlantis.com/collections/phoneless-carless-friendless