Contemplating the wounds of Jesus throughout the month of June has produced a variety of responses. Here are just two.
Embarrassment. The image of the classic Roman-style crucifix pops to mind. The frail and bloodied body; ribs showing, anguished face, enormous nails and a crown of thorns unbelievably large and sharp. It’s not that these images themselves are some how unorthodox, it’s that they are so clearly emphasized by the artist that it is inescapable to conclude that he wants us to focus on the wounds – and people who want us to focus on their wounds are either pitiable or an embarrassment or both. The contemporary obsession with being a victim threatens to corrupt my view of the wounds of Jesus. We award and even laud those who claim victim hood regardless of whether they really are or the origins of the wounds.
That crucifix begins to fade and then merge into the background of hysterical cries about the loss of a family pet, “micro-aggressions”or an internet insult. It risks being lost altogether amidst the imagined and often self-inflicted wounds of those who seek only their own good. Lord, help me to see those wounds as the ONLY wounds that finally matter. Help me hold on to their profound reality, to their profound selflessness and their power.
Hope. Only a fool or a madman can deny that wounds are not only universal but are somehow woven deeply into the fabric of the human experience. It is this inevitable observation that has driven philosophers, poets and peasants to contemplate eternal questions in the first place. Without wounds, no one would bother to ask and answer the “big” questions. As I have probed my own wounds and the wounds I have caused, it has only ever been the existence of the nail-wounds, the punctured lung, and the countless lacerations of the Nazarene that provide a meaningful context.
All other wounds, whether my own personal wounds, wounds visited upon the Creation or wounds I have malevolently caused, are derivative of the wounds visited upon the Son of God. The hopeless, knotted web of wounds which defines humanity can only ever be brought into focus; can only ever receive precisely the healing they require when finally understood as extensions of those wounds delivered and received on Calvary.
I have felt that healing.
I hope in the continuing work of those wounds which continue to issue their power for those who would choose stand beneath them.