“When it was evening on that day …he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord…Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:19-23)
Scars. We all have them. Some of our scars come from accidents, medical conditions, surgeries, and wars. Some are etched in our minds and hearts from the traumas, abuse, hurts, and disappointments that life has dished out to us. We may even have scars from our relationship with the Church. Whether they are obvious or hidden, physical, emotional, or spiritual, scars are the road maps that tell the story of our life’s journey.
We can only imagine the scars that our Savior must have had from the scourging, the physical abuses, and the horrific crucifixion he endured. But, as the risen Christ, he used his scars to continue his mission, showing the scars on his hands and his side to his disciples as proof that he was Jesus the Messiah. In this Pentecost story from the Gospel of St. John, Jesus breathes on the disciples, giving them the Holy Spirit and grants to them the apostolic authority for forgiving or retaining sins.
The apostle Paul so identified his life with Christ’s, that he said, “I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus” (Gal. 6:17,The Message) Do any of our scars reveal that we have followed Jesus Christ along the way? Can we use our scars to show that we are marked as Christ’s own as witnessed by our acts of love, mercy, and forgiveness?
- Rev. Andrea Titcomb