We are now in the upper room in Jerusalem. How did we get here? After they were scattered on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the followers of Jesus somehow found their way to this meeting point called the Upper Room. Some of them are nursing the cuts and bruises they sustained when they were escaping from the soldiers in the garden on Holy Thursday. Some with chins in their palms and eyes closed, wonder, “If they did that to our master; what will they do to us if they get us?” Usually, women had no position of authority, only men could speak at any serious gathering. But there is a difference here. When things became hot on that Thursday, when it became clear that Jesus was not ready to defend himself, the men ran away. Only a handful of women remained until he died on the cross and was buried. The men, who did not permit the women to speak in the past are now hanging onto every word that is coming from the women. Please, tell us, what did he say while they nailed him to the cross? Did he express any disappointment about those of us who ran away? Did he curse Judas Iscariot? Did he really die? What about the soldiers, did they threaten to come after us? From time to time, they make signs to the women to lower the volume of their voices, so the enemies don’t find out that they are in the upper room. Every sound is a suspect. Tears run down their cheeks, but no one must sneeze or blow their nose so as not to attract the attention of the enemies.

Peter takes a deep breath and wonders, “Why did I aim at the ear of the servant and not his throat on that Thursday? I guess if the soldiers had seen his head rolling on the ground, it would have scared them away and saved my master.” Another of the twelve whispers to himself, “I wish I said something when I started suspecting that Judas was acting strangely.” Another apostle thinks to himself, “I wish after that supper, I asked Jesus a silly question to delay him. Maybe he would have missed the soldiers in the garden.”

No one in this room seems to remember what he said about the third day. No one seems to remember that he talked about what had happened. What just happened? The doors are locked; the windows are intact, but it seems the number of those in the room just increased by one person. Who is he? Is he a spy? Is he one of the soldiers? Is he one of the missing disciples? What is he doing here? Suddenly he greets them, “Peace be with you?” “But who are you?” they wonder, though no one dares voice out their question. He shows them his hands and his side, and from whispers growing into exclamations from different parts of the room comes the words, “It is the Lord!!!” When he appeared, they did not see him as the Lord. When he spoke the words, “Peace be with you,” they did not hear him as the Lord. But after he showed them his hands and his side, the passage says, “The disciples rejoiced when they saw Lord.” It was in the wounds they recognized the Lord.

Thomas did not believe them when they told him the Lord had risen and appeared to them. He needed evidence; not his face, not his voice, not his clothes, all he needed was to see and touch the wounds. Jesus came back the next Sunday. When Thomas saw the wounds, it was enough for him to believe. No need to touch them. By seeing the wounds, without touching them, he professed not just that he is the Lord, but that he is God, he said, “My Lord and my God!”

How powerful those wounds of Jesus. I would have advised him to have cleaned them up so as not to traumatize the disciples. I would have advised him to have healed himself of those wounds since he had the power to rise from the dead, at least so that his enemies would not laugh at him. But he knew better, he knew that the wounds would serve as testimony that he came, he saw, and he conquered. He knew that it was by the wounds that his disciples would recognize him, and so he kept them. There is power in the scars. They tell the story of a Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, the Lord who loved unto death.

There are things about our past we wish never happened. There are mistakes we made in the past we wish to erase from our memories. Some of us are ashamed to talk about our family of origin. We don’t want people to know the name of the school we attended. But we are who we are today either because of our backgrounds or despite our backgrounds.

My dear friends, what scars are you carrying today? What forms of betrayal have you experienced? What persecutions have you endured for his sake? What weaknesses are you battling against? Don’t be in a haste to wipe out your past. All that happened to you happened for a reason. After his resurrection, the apostles recognized him as the Lord by his wounds; Thomas recognized him as God by his wounds. On the last day, when we appear before him, we will recognize him when he shows us his wounds. He may also ask you on that day, “Who are you?” What marks will you show him as a sign that you fought a good fight and conquered? What scars will you show him as evidence of your discipleship? Scripture says, “By his wounds/stripes we are healed.” May our wounds be united with the wounds of Jesus Christ to bring us healing in this life and the life to come, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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