During the season of Lent we are invited to contemplate the sufferings of Jesus. This is not always an easy calling, for we prefer to avoid suffering and death. Consider the following:
Our God is a wounded, suffering God. We may prefer to skip Lent, Holy Week, and Good Friday and go directly to Easter, but “you can’t get there from here!” As Diana L. Eck reminds us: “God wears the face of death… as one who faced suffering and death himself. That is what the incarnation is about…. God does not justify our suffering, God participates in it.” (Encountering God, Beacon Press, 1993, p. 110-111)
Wounds are where life and love penetrate. According to Phillip Bennett, in his little book Let Yourself Be Loved, (Paulist Press, 1997), the words wound and wonder come from a common root word meaning to penetrate. Life penetrates us through our wounds! Bennett explains: “As we experience healing, our wounds never really go away; instead, as they heal they become deep wells within us in which we may feel the pain of the world and respond.” [emphasis added]
We draw compassion from these wells of our wounds. Henri Nouwen, probably best known for his book The Wounded Healer, reminds us that the real healers among us are those who draw from the compassion they have learned through their own woundings. In the stories of Christ’s resurrection, his followers recognize him by his wounds, still visible in his hands, feet, and side. And scripture reminds us “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24 NRSV) Just as Christ’s wounds became a source of hope to his followers, so we can learn to allow our own wounds to make us more compassionate healers for others.
May God give us the grace to meditate on the wounds of Christ,
the courage to expose our own wounds for God’s healing, and
the humility to admit our woundedness to each other so that we may become healers for each other. Amen.