We encounter Christ’s wounds when we encounter others who are wounded and in need of mercy, Pope Francis told the congregation at Mass this morning for the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, which he celebrated at the chapel of the St. Martha Residence in the Vatican. The Holy Father said that we come into contact with Christ when we reach out to wounded souls through works of mercy.
“We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to the body – the body – and also to the soul, but the body, I stress, of your wounded brother,” the Pope said. “Because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked, because he is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he is in jail, because he is in hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today.”
The Pope reminded his audience that Thomas was skeptical of Christ’s resurrection until he could put his hands into Jesus’ wounds. “He wanted him to wait a week … he gives the time he believes best for each of us.” Francis said that it was most significant that Thomas did not say “it is true, the Lord is risen!” but instead said “my Lord and my God.”
“And so we understand what the Lord’s intention was when he made him wait: he wanted to guide his disbelief, not to an affirmation of the Resurrection, but to an affirmation of his divinity.” Pope Francis went on to say that the path to our own encounter with Christ is through his wounds and that “there is no other.” The Holy Father said that it is dangerous to believe that one can encounter Christ merely through meditation. “Some have been lost on that path, never to return,” he preached. “They arrive yes, perhaps, to knowledge of God, but not of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. They do not arrive at that.” The Pope warned that to believe that one can arrive at the understanding of Christ merely through one’s own efforts is to embrace Pelagianism. “Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards him, but through these his wounds.”
“We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally,” preached the Pope. “Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed.”
“Let us ask St. Thomas, for the grace to have the courage to enter into the wounds of Jesus with tenderness and thus we will certainly have the grace to worship the living God.”