Week of 16 April, 2020

Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have. And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

~ Luke 24:41 ~

Of all the post-resurrection readings I love this one, where Jesus comes and shows his disciples his hands and feet, the most. There is something so utterly real, so vulnerable in his action. The risen Christ is different, but he carries the wounds of his suffering in him. This echoes my own experience that the deep wounds of my life may find closure and healing, but I carry their scars with me.

 

I don’t understand why God created us to experience pain, but I know that suffering and pain are an integral part of our human experience. It is in our nature to live and die. We grieve, we mourn, we battle under hardship, and we suffer from diseases of body and mind. In the process we grow and become ourselves.

 

Of course we are all desperate for a cure, for the alleviation of the pain we feel. At the top of our minds is that we don’t want to suffer and if we do, for it to be over quickly and for there to be no residue. However, the reality is that suffering is not really like that. When we suffer deeply it changes us and we may carry the wounds in ourselves for life.

 

I think also of some of the people I have accompanied over the years, people who have been through traumatic experiences. I know that there is very little I can do to help them, other than to be there, to sit with them, to listen to them. I do, however, find that if they are able to take their pain, their trauma to the person of Jesus, if they are able to be open enough to meditate on his suffering and death, then something often shifts. His love, his knowledge of pain, his redeeming presence, will be at work in them and in their distress he consoles. Not that they are “magically” healed, but when we turn in our pain to God, he never abandons us, he is with us. It is in sharing our experience of pain that something shifts, that we might feel consoled, or a new sense of hope may emerge. In looking on Jesus’ vulnerability in his pain, my own ability to be vulnerable, to let him draw near, is deepened.

 

 

Lord,

I ask for the grace to remember to turn to you in my fear, in my pain and sorrow. May my heart be open to you when I am in darkness, and may the reality of your love, expressed for me on the cross be in the forefront of my mind.

Amen.

 

Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Matthew manages the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and is involved in the Spirituality work whilst completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and is also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
See more from Matthew Charlesworth SJ

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