The Wounds of Christ

04/14/2024  |  Gospel Reflection

Back in 2007, a group of researchers compared the amount of food consumed between two groups. They were curious to discover if the evidence of food already eaten (in this case, individuals were given chicken wings to eat while watching a football game) would impact the amount they ate altogether. They found that the participants ate less at the tables where the bones were left out in plain sight in comparison to the tables where the bones were removed. “The results suggest that people restrict their consumption when evidence of food consumed is available to signal how much food they have eaten.” (Brian Wansink, Cornell Chronicle, April 9, 2007).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus miraculously appears before the apostles. If His resurrected body wasn’t shocking enough, He still bore the wounds of His crucifixion. There is nothing that Jesus cannot do. His very presence before the Apostles is a testament to that. So if He can do anything, why did He choose to leave those wounds, the very gruesome and heart wrenching places that we, humanity, created?

The wounds of Christ bear witness to the truth of His sacrifice. His wounds are proof to the Apostles that He is who He says He is. In a way, Jesus is providing them a second chance to look upon Him on the cross. Only John was at the foot of the cross, but he was not the only one to witness the marks of it. We too, are invited to gaze upon the broken body of Christ. We need to see, we need to remember.

Each time we enter a church, we see the crucifix behind the altar. Without the cross, there would be no resurrection. St. Augustine said, “The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.”

For the same reason that the people eating chicken wings need a visual to remind them of how much they have eaten, we need Jesus’ wounds to vividly remind us of the lengths He was willing to go to save us. We humans are slow to learn and quick to forget. We quickly forget the price that was paid for our salvation. We bemoan all the things we are lacking, rather than lifting our empty hands in adoration to the God who gave us everything we have.

Jesus’ wounds should shock us, yes. But they are also the most precious things we have ever received, for through them we are reborn to eternal life.