Justice Reflections From Fr. Claude

Second Sunday of Easter

The resurrection does not solve our problems about dying and death. It is not the happy ending to our life’s struggle, nor is it the big surprise that God has kept in store for us.

No, the resurrection is the expression of God’s faithfulness….

The resurrection is God’s way of revealing to us that nothing that belongs to God will ever go to waste.

What belongs to God will never get lost.

Henri Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift

It does not take much to notice, if we care, that there is a pandemic of grief, and we are part of a world full of wounds – suffering and pain – that hides the face of a loving God. Many people think of God being somewhere beyond the world and cruelly punishes people. Vengeful preachers trading on the misfortunes of others arouse fear and exploit it for religious ends. This occurred during the AIDS pandemic and at times during the Covid pandemic. It seemed to be a product of their own vindictiveness to beat up people they did not like, approve of, or hated.


Today’s gospel is super-imposed over each image of a wounded adult or child or the earth. We should be uncomfortable, when Pope Francis said on Palm Sunday, ‘Entire peoples are exploited and abandoned; the poor live on our streets and we look the other way; there are migrants who are no longer faces but numbers; there are prisoners who are disowned; people written off as problems.’ He reminds us of the countless abandoned people in our midst, invisible, hidden, and discarded such as the elderly who live alone or left alone in aged care, the unvisited sick, ignored people with a disability, and the young who bear scars of their growing up, with no one ready to listen to their cry.  Though easily ignored by turning off the news, these people are still there. We may rub shoulders with them, but not do recognise them. Easter, however, tells us where to find Jesus; he is right before us and everywhere. But we need to look and touch. When Jesus points to these wounds, he says they are his too. The risen Jesus comes to us with scars. He enters the locked places of our lives – the fears, the blindness, the sorrow and scars to open us up to new ideas, new possibilities and change. In the gospel, the doors are locked but Jesus does not reprimand the disciples for locking the room but goes through it to touch their fears and says, ‘Peace be with you.’ He invites each day ‘put your finger here’ with our touch, our minds, our hearts and voices. Though many find themselves unable to find Jesus the Christ in church, or in its preaching, or in its dogmas and statements, the message is that we can still encounter him where people suffer: ‘Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’  We know that God mostly addresses people who are on the margins. God in Jesus is in solidarity with the small, the uninvited, the wounded, but also identifies with them: just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.


We go through so many challenges in life. No one is exempt from painful experiences. We need the witness of people who have themselves suffered, been wounded, who witness and still say, ‘I have seen the Lord. He is risen.’ When those around us can no longer see Jesus, they are looking for him in our lives. They seek him in communities of faith that care for the needy, that share rather than hoard, that include rather than exclude, listen rather than speak, and look to see our wounds allow us to empathise and show compassion. Jesus holds out his wounded hands to Thomas which prove that his suffering and love are real. Maybe that is what the world is asking from us: to see what we are willing to risk for the sake of love, for the sake of one who loves us. The disciples did not mention wounds to Thomas when they announced they had seen Jesus. Mary Magdalene did not mention wounds when she says to the other disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ In each case, that is what was missing and necessary for faith. The proclamation, ‘I have seen the Lord’ cannot be isolated from the passion and death of Jesus.


People bear scars on their bodies, but most scars are interior, and they cannot be erased. The resurrection did not erase Jesus scars. These made him recognisable. In the locked room, Jesus did not hide his scars. He showed them. He sent them that he would be recognised by his wounds. From my previous clinical practice, I found it difficult to dislike, hate or ignore anyone who had shared their story. The sharing of broken and difficult parts, of hurts and failures, enabled connection. We carry within us scars that never leave us whether from sickness, abandonment, vilification, bullying, failures, or ruptured relationships. Many people believe they are undeserving of God’s love. Father Gregory Boyle, of Homeboy Industries, calls us to, ‘Behold the One beholding you and smiling. It is precisely because we have such an overactive disapproval gland ourselves that we tend to create God in our own image. It is truly hard for us to see the truth that disapproval does not seem to be part of God’s DNA. God is just too busy loving us to have any time left for disappointment.’


We are embodiments of our entire story. The scars were not optional, but the shame is!! Our scars and our sorrow will always be part of our story, but never the conclusion of our story. The resurrection does not cleanse us or erase our scars but does not define us. And they did not define Jesus. He reveals that God is not who we thought and that we know God through a person and just religion; we know God by looking at who God choses to reveal self in Jesus, even in Jesus’ wounds; a God who would rather die rather than be checking of peoples’ sins and failures; a God who does not seek revenge. A God unafraid to get down and dirty for the ones he loves. This is the God who raised Jesus from the grave — still wounded and who chose women to tell the story. So even feeling trapped in pain, trapped in one’s past, trapped in one’s own story, as if a boulder closes a tomb, we are to know that there is no stone that God cannot roll away. Thomas saw with his own eyes and was able to make his unique response to the Jesus who came to transform this world into a reign of justice, peace, love and joy. He sees love and forgiveness not judgment, victory not defeat. Our task is resist violence and war, hunger, and homelessness which cannot be done in a locked room, ghetto, or church building.


Thomas recognises and names a new relationship and new way of being in the world. It has nothing to do with fear which determines our lives that keeps people ‘entombed.’ Pope Francis warns of a Church being ghettoed, closeted and closed; one that is fearful of change, women’s rights, Muslims, progressive people, science, the love of gay and lesbian people, and the stranger. The greatest challenge is not closed doors, but closed minds and hearts controlled by fear which prevent us from opening doors to, and removing the stones from others. As Jesus called to Lazarus to come out of the tomb, by breathing the Spirit of life, mercy, compassion, courage, and peace the disciples, and us, he calls us not make locked doors our natural habitat. We need to take that peace to others. It has much to do with touching the wounds and scars of one another because only the God with wounds matters. Only this God can be in solidarity with crucified peoples of the earth and our ailing planet.


The earth is being crucified and wounded with loss of biodiversity, species’ extinctions, collapse of fisheries, rampant deforestation, demise of coral reefs, rising sea levels, acidified oceans, and rising global temperatures. There are the wounds of war, conflict, famine and drought leading to starvation and death, with people fleeing their drought-stricken lands or sinking coasts. We cannot look away. We cannot ignore these wounds. They are ours too. When we touch the wounds of the world we see and preserve the face of Jesus and in the wounds of the body of the world and our neighbours – wounded humanity – see the face of God. Thomas cannot believe in a God who moves through our world unaffected by its pain, woundedness and suffering. Maybe seeking people cannot believe in Christians who are unaffected by the pain and suffering of the world. We are being shown that the wounds of the world, all the human misery, are Jesus’ wounds. It is only then that we say, ‘My Lord and my God’ and then also experience the impact of Jesus’ words earlier to Thomas, ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’


Let us not remain in the upper room in fear and hopelessness. Let us do life differently. Let us not avoid the inevitable confrontation that comes when raising our voices about the wounds of our sisters and brothers. Let us believe that we are held together by the presence of one who speaks words of peace, wholeness, connectedness, and inclusiveness?


Love your neighbour. Love the stranger. Hear the cry of the otherwise unloved. Liberate the poor from their poverty. Care for the dignity of all. Let those who have more than they need share their blessings with those who have less. Feed the hungry, house the homeless, and heal the sick in body and mind. Fight injustice, whoever it is done by and whoever it is done against. And do these things because, being human, we are bound by a covenant of human solidarity, whatever our colour or culture, class or creed.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,


Come Holy Spirit,

whose justice outwits international conspiracy,

whose light outshines spiritual bigotry,

whose peace can overcome the destructive potential of warfare,

whose promise invigorates our every effort

to create a new heaven and a new earth now and forever. 


Diarmuid O’Murchu MSC

Go on …. Touch me.

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