April 28, 2019
But a side of me has to ask…Do we really believe it?!
When the political landscape and continued humanitarian and environmental crises around the world speak of division and destruction, it’s hard to recognize the Risen Christ in our midst. Sometimes I resonate with Thomas’ doubting heart. Sometimes I have trouble believing Easter has truly arrived.
But if we take Thomas’ lead, we might learn to embody belief through our actions. In his unbelief, he asked to put his hands into the wounds of Christ. He understood intuitively that moving closer to the suffering of Christ would move his faith. When we allow ourselves to attend to the wounds of those around us we might make sense or gain perspective in life. Psychological studies offer that reaching out to help others, in turn, helps us to find meaning in our lives.[i]
Our faith invites us even further beyond helping one another to true solidarity. When we get close enough to the heart of another to comprehend our shared brokenness, we begin to recognize Christ in those we “other.” This willingness to enter into the wounds of another in solidarity is what Pope Francis talks about when he shares the metaphor of the Church as a Field Hospital. In his 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro, S.J. he noted: “The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.”[ii] He is essentially saying we need to be close to the struggles of others in order to heal wounds and warm hearts; to bring the Good News. He went on to say that we need to be a people “who know how to dialogue and to descend into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost.” Our faith invites us to believe that when we enter into the woundedness of others, we will recognize the Risen Christ. We can share Christ’s promise of peace and mercy only when we know and love the other as Christ. We understand the resurrection when we go through the cross of suffering. We won’t get lost in our unbelief; we’ll be able to proclaim and “write down” all that we have seen.
We are being invited by today’s readings to go out into the streets and take up the mission of Christ. As Francis J. Maloney, S.D.B. notes, “the community must reach beyond its borders to continue the mission of Jesus.”[iii] Christ’s mission is ours; we are asked to continue his work of bringing healing and hope. As the first reading shares, “A large number of people from the towns were gathering… and they were all cured.” By our Baptism we too share in the peace Christ greeted his disciples within that upper room, we too receive the Spirit’s continued companionship as we move into the world sharing Christ’s message of divine mercy. This is a prophetic role, one that demands we authentically walk in solidarity and love with those most vulnerable including our fragile earth.
[IV] Ram Dass and Paul Gorman, How can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1985), 58.