he does not rise
in a body smooth and whole,
but a body wounded,
a body dehumanized by torture,
a body that bears the marks of human hatred.
The resurrection, of course, restores that body to life—
indeed, it transforms and glorifies that body,
giving it a life that shares in God’s own eternity—
but it does not erase the marks of outrage.
It does not erase the wounds inflicted
by the religious leaders who rejected him,
by the crowd that cried “crucify him, crucify him,”
by Pontius Pilate whose cowardice condemned him,
by the Roman soldiers who drove the nails into his flesh,
by the disciples who abandoned him and fled in fear.
because it is only by his wounds that we know
that it is truly Jesus who appears before us.
It is by his wounds that we know
that the one who once was dead
is now the one who lives,
that he who was crucified in time
is alive forever,
the first and the last.
to the fact of the resurrection;
rather they show us
what the resurrection means for us.
They show that the resurrection is not simply
a miracle that God works
in order to rescue Jesus from death,
but is the great saving act of God
by which we are rescued;
the wounds show us that the resurrection
is not just good news for Jesus
but for us as well—
we who are flawed and frail,
sinful and sorrowful,
mortal and mournful.
In the resurrection,
Jesus does not “put the past behind him”
but rather offers up that past
at the altar of God’s eternal temple.
Jesus does not abandon the sad story of the passion,
but brings with him into risen glory
all that he suffered in his mortal life,
which he live for us and for our salvation:
the wounds not erased, but redeemed;
the betrayals not forgotten, but forgiven;
the malice not ignored, but met with mercy.
The risen Jesus retains his wounds
for they are the sign of his great love for us:
“No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Jesus sets the pattern for our own risen life.
It is a longstanding Christian belief
that even in God’s kingdom
the martyrs will retain
the marks of their martyrdom,
by which they bore witness to Jesus Christ.
St. Augustine writes,
“this will not be a deformity,
but a badge of honor,
and the beauty of their virtue—
a beauty which is in the body,
but not of the body—
will shine forth in it” (Civ. Dei 22.19).
The wounds of the martyrs are not erased
but glorified and transformed,
for their scars bear witness to their love.
everything we have suffered
for the sake of love—
whether physically or spiritually—
will be taken up in glory,
healed but not erased.
Because it is the things we have suffered for love
that have made us who we are.
The struggles of marriage and parenthood,
the rejections we endure for our commitment to truth,
the sacrifices we make to aid those who have less,
the betrayals and malice that we forgive,
the illnesses we endure trusting in God’s goodness—
all of these, embraced out of love of God,
become the glorious wounds of our witness,
the beauty of the virtue that God pours into us
over the course of a lifetime lived in faith.
The scars borne by our bodies and souls
are the letters with which
the stories of our lives have been written,
and those stories are not forgotten in eternity
but are remembered and raised up and transformed
in ways that we can only begin to imagine.
that past suffering is simply left behind.
The body that is tortured on the cross
is the same body that emerges from the tomb
still bearing the marks of torment.
We remember in every Eucharist
the suffering Christ endured for love of us
even as we receive the living Christ in communion.
We ourselves, who have been raised with Christ in baptism,
daily experience the pain to which love leaves us vulnerable.
But Easter places the story of our suffering
within the larger story of Jesus’ triumph over death
and the mercy that he shows to all who suffer,
and in doing so the scars we bear
are transformed, not erased.
It is this hope of transformation that sustains us
even as the story of our lives continue to be written:
sometimes in sorrow,
sometimes in joy,
but at all times enclosed
in the merciful love
of Jesus Christ,
wounded and risen.