Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blossoming Wounds

We share excerpts from Father Simeon's homily at his Mass of Thanksgiving:

Today, the glorious Son of Man touches us reassuringly with his wounded hand and with immense tenderness he says to us:  Do not be afraid!  I am the first and the last, the one who lives.  Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the underworld.  These, my friends, are words from the mouth of the risen Jesus himself, revealing the deepest meaning of his Resurrection, words from the one who cannot lie.  The one who says, in the present tense of eternity: “I am the Living One forever and ever”, also says: “Once I was dead”.  He thus refers to his own death in the past tense, as a stage already suffered through and left behind definitively.

How radically and permanently our lives could be transformed if we made the knowledge of this gift of indestructible life and peace our deepest conviction, if we truly believed the words of power, reassurance and consolation spoken to us by our Savior after his triumph over death.  Christ, in fact, knows intimately our impulse toward decay, because once he too truly drank the bitterness of his and our common mortality, drank it down to the dregs, so that it is your and my specific death that he triumphed over, and not merely some abstract idea of death.  The wounds in his body swiftly banish all such abstraction.  The one thing that a follower of Jesus can be sure of is that he or she will never be alone, because in the act of following at least two are always involved.  So, if we follow him into his death, he will lead us out of it into his life.

Jesus penetrates to the center of the apostles’ fear despite the locked doors.  Jesus’ love and desire to be with his own will always find its way to us, no matter what human measures we might take to make ourselves “safe”, unreachable, perhaps even to him!  As someone, echoing Augustine, has dared to exclaim: “Restless is your heart, [O Jesus,] until it rests in me!  Restless is your heart until we rest in you!”* Urged by his divine restlessness, “Jesus came and stood in their midst.”  Suddenly, and against all expectation and possibility, he was there, at the very center of their group, attracted to them by their very fear and confusion.  Jesus always takes the initiative in coming to us, because he always loves first and always anticipates our needs and desires.  What he brings us is the peace that he has won for us at the price of his wounds, which he now shows us as trophies of his battle with death.  Only the One wounded for us is to be believed, since true love is always a wounded love and Jesus’ wounds speak to us far louder than his words.  His gesture of proving his identity to his friends by showing them the gleaming wounds in his hands and side is the gesture of a lover baring his entire being to the beloved he wants to seduce and make his own forever.  Jesus has nothing to hide from us, since he has given us the very substance of his body, soul and divinity for our possession.  That is the way love works.  He gives us everything he is and has.  In return, he wants our act of faith, by which we declare that we believe he is Who he says he is, and by which we also accept the peace he brings us and allow it to drive out all our fear. 

*Hans Urs von Balthasar, Heart of the World.