Second Sunday of Easter, Year B

Sunday, April 8, 2018
Fr. Jon
Homily transcription: 

Some of you may know of Padre Pio, the Italian Franciscan who died in 1968 and was canonized a saint in 2002. Today if you go to Italy, you see that he is perhaps the most popular saint other than the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Francis of Assisi. He like Francis of Assisi received the stigmata, the wounds of Christ in his body. In his book, "To Whom Shall We Go?", Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York tells a story about Padre Pio. Cardinal Dolan met an American who was a World War II veteran at Padre Pio's canonization. The vet had met Padre Pio during the war, and told Cardinal Dolan this story:

"We went to see Padre Pio, and I was as skeptical as can be. But I thought, 'I'll go along. Maybe we'll meet some nice-looking Italian girls down in southern Italy, because I don't believe in this fraud." As it turned out, when Padre Pio came to greet this guy, the American demanded, 'Show me your wounds.' Because the Vatican had ordered Padre Pio to cover his stigmata, the wounds were covered with gloves. So the guys said to Padre Pio, 'Show me your wounds. I don't believe you.' Padre Pio looked at him and said, 'Show me yours.' The man replied, 'I don't claim to have the stigmata. You do. Show me your wounds.' Padre Pio only said again, "Show me yours.' 'What are you talking about?' the vet said, not understanding. Padre Pio explained: 'Well, we've all got wounds. We all bear the stigmata. Mine, for some strange reason, happen to be visible, but so what? You've got them too. You're carrying some. I can see them.' With that the guy began to weep, and Padre Pio said to him, 'Come with me.' They went into the confessional, where Padre Pio invited him one more time, 'Show me your wounds.' The guy admitted that he was bearing a terrible cross. He had landed with his two buddies and they were pinned down by machine guns. But he went ahead and left them behind, even as they yelled after him, 'Please, come an dget us.' But he didn't. He left, he escaped and he said this was a nightmare, a wound he carried for a long time, one he was finally able to reveal to the holy man."

That story speaks to me. On occasion, I meet people who are angry, angry at life, angry at the Church, angry at God. If I said, "Show me your wounds," I will bey lots of money that this anger comes from some wound, some pain, that has often been buried for a long time.

Some of our wounds, like this vet, come from suffering that is the result of selfishness. But some of our wounds, like Jesus, come from suffering that is the result of love. I think Padre Pio is right: We've all got wounds. We all bear the stigmata.

The Gospel for today, the second Sunday of Easter also called Divine Mercy Sunday, is always the same Gospel. It is the familiar story of Thomas' refusal to believe Jesus is risen until he physically touches his wounds. I think it is very important to note that Jesus' wounds are part of his resurrected body. They are not erased. They are transformed.

Often our prayers to the Lord ask him to erase our wounds, to take away our pain. We all have wounds, pain that has been buried for some time. They keep us from having the joy, the life that God wants for us. So we beg the Lord to erase our wounds.

But just like God did not erase Jesus' wounds, he does not erase ours either. Rather, he transformed them into something beautiful, in our lives and for the lives of others. Pastor Rick Warren, in his book "The Purpose Driven Life" is right on target when he says: "God never wastes a hurt! In fact, your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt. The very experiences that you have resented or regretted most in life---the ones you've wanted to hide and forget---are the experiences that God wants to use to help others. They are your ministry!"

I've have seen this happen many times in people's lives. Their greatest passion and purpose in life flows from the greatest pain in their lives. When a wound is transformed, it becomes something beautiful we have to offer the world.

In today's Gospel, Thomas says to Jesus, "Show me your wounds." But perhaps the Lord is also saying to each of us, "Show me your wounds. Show them to me. Bring them to me. Give them to me in this Eucharist. I won't erase them, but I will transform them, so that you have something beautiful to give to others."