For so many of us who have encountered the person of Jesus Christ, the deepest desire of our hearts is to be able to know Him more. However, we know from experience that He is not always easy to identify.
Stories from Scripture attest to the fact that Jesus’ own disciples struggled to identify Him after He was resurrected, even when, as in Mary Magdalene’s story, He was standing right in front of her! But most striking of all is the story of Thomas, the Doubter. Because he was not with the other disciples when the resurrected Jesus first appeared to them, he could not believe that He was truly raised from the dead. Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands …” he said, “I will not believe” (Jn 20:24).
As a new LAMP missionary, I discovered that I was more like St. Thomas than I thought. It isn’t easy to believe that Jesus really has wounds! Like Thomas, I struggled to understand that He really suffered, really was pierced, and still bears His wounds. I could believe in the theological doctrine of the crucifixion in my head, but I had not seen with my own eyes that God takes our pain upon himself. I had not touched the mark of the spear in His beating Heart.
Mother Teresa said, “I know I am touching the living body of Christ in the broken body of the poor.” Through my journey as a LAMP missionary, I have slowly come to recognize that the suffering of the poor that I serve – whether it is the emotional anguish of a mother who can’t find housing for her children, the psychological tortures of a young person in the throes of addiction, or the terrible poverty of a mother who believes she has no choice but to abort her child – is identical to the suffering that my Lord endured in His passion. He really does have wounds, and His wounds are wounds of love. He never leaves any person alone in their pain, no matter how obscure or poor or inconsequential they are in the eyes of the world, but He allows Himself to be crucified in them.
When Thomas finally touched Christ’s wounds, he had no more doubts: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28). In serving the poor in LAMP, I have touched Christ’s wounds as well, and like Thomas, I am left with a new revelation about who He is. In His humanity, He suffered in body and spirit to be one with us and our pain; but in His divinity, He overcame every wound, even death itself. In LAMP, I have seen how the Lord overcomes every kind of wound, every attempt by the enemy to harm us, and by the power of His resurrection brings life out of death and despair. St. Augustine felt this divine power when he prayed, “In my deepest wound, I saw Your glory, and it dazzled me.”
As Christians we all are hungry to know Jesus more. If we want to know who He is, and what it means that He is the Crucified One (Matt. 28:5), let us reach out and touch His wounds in the poor. This means going further than giving cold charity from a safe distance, such as donating money to a good cause; let us look into the eyes of our suffering brothers and sisters, share their pain, and know their hurts. The suffering of the world is real, but it should never cause us to despair; because although Jesus is wounded and was dead, He is alive (Rev 1:17) and He makes all things new (Rev 21:5).
-Kathleen, LAMP Missionary