by Bishop Gregory J. Mansour
It took Saint Thomas a whole week before he could see for himself that Jesus had risen from the dead. During that time, what must have gone through his mind? He may have said to himself, “If Jesus really rose from the dead, my life will have to change!” Well, in the personal encounter one week later, when all the disciples were present, his life did change! Jesus walked through “locked doors”!
The Lord can walk through “locked doors,” but not a closed heart. In Saint Thomas he found a truly open heart!
Jesus then asked, “put your finger here and see my hands” and “bring your hand and put it into my side” (John 20). Our Lord let Thomas have a personal, firsthand look at his wounds. Jesus also invites each of us to have a personal, firsthand look, not just at him, but even more importantly, at his wounds. This invitation says: “Come see my sorrows, see the shame I bore, see my hurts and disappointments, and live!”
Closed doors, open hearts, personal encounter, touching wounds; these themes are very much present in our personal lives, often filled with similar hurts, shame, and disappointment. These themes are also present in our suffering, yet amazing, Church. Suffering, because of so many persecutions from without, and so much shame and sorrow from within. Amazing, because despite all her sins, the Church is still the leading humanitarian provider of healthcare, education, and assistance throughout the world.
Pope Francis calls the Church a “field hospital,” and that she is. By binding her own wounds, as well as the wounds of those who suffer in the world (Christians and non-Christian alike), this wounded but amazing Church not only offers healing for the terrible harm caused by the scandalous and painful scourge of a small minority of her clergy, but also offers loving care for all people, regardless of their faith, throughout this broken and troubled world of ours.
“The Lord can walk through ‘locked’ doors but not a closed heart.”
The wounds from within, and the persecutions from without, are more and more treated openly and courageously by the Church. Each day, she witnesses to the crucified, yet risen Christ. The only “closed door” that remains, where Jesus cannot walk, is the “closed human heart,” and today there seems to be lots of them.
Nonetheless, like our Lord did for Saint Thomas, he also invites us to touch the wounds of his Mystical Body, the Church, in a way that reminds each of us that in suffering, and yes, even in death, there is resurrection, joy, and peace for those who believe in the One who said: “I am the resurrection and the life”. (John 11)
Let us not wait for a week, as Saint Thomas did, but let us ask our Lord to personally show us his wounds, let us touch those wounds (ours and those of others), and let us follow him as did Saint Thomas, even to India if needed, with our lives changed for the better, and thus proclaim with Saint Thomas, “My Lord and My God!” (John 20)