Here are my hands...

Published on 08 Apr 2021

Jesus Christ has strength for his mission.  He comes among us with power and authority.  On the cross, he reigned: risen from the dead, he is Lord forever.   Even when he was being interrogated during his passion it was clear that he was much greater than his torturers. Yes, I am a king.  I was born for this, I came into the world for this [1].  Now, after the resurrection, continuing his mission, Jesus puts his strength at the service of those who seek his help.   In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world [2].   God loves what he has created and teaches us to do the same. Faith in him includes a love of the world.  Yet he also wins a victory over the world and our being disciples is a participation in that victory. Who can overcome the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God [3].  The Lord takes charge of creation in order to bring it to its proper fulfilment.  He strengthens us so that we can be what he has always intended we should be. He sends us out to share what we have received from him.  As the Father sent me, so I am sending you [4] The service of others, in which he is continuously engaged, becomes, with his help and direction, our raison d’être also.  We can be sure that we love God’s children, if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us [5].  In our love of our fellow inhabitants of the world, which the creator has made, there is obedient devotion. He enlarges our vision so that our attention to him embraces the care of others and a sharing of our faith with them.  We approach them so that they may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this they may have life through his name [6].

Christ’s authority was apparent during the passion, amid humiliation and suffering.  I was born for this, I came into the world for this.  His kingship, which is not of this world [7], was mocked and honoured at the same time.  The crown of the thorns[8], and the titulum on his cross, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews...written in Hebrew, in Latin and in Greek [9], acknowledged his greatness while attempting to subvert and cancel it.  Risen, he still bears the marks of his execution.  He showed them his hands and his side [10].  The sceptical have their attention drawn to the wounds.  ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe [11].  Faith is stirred by a meeting with a Lord who has come out of the tomb and who continues to be marked by suffering.  He is strong enough to overcome what opposes his mission of salvation.  Such is the abundance of his grace that he can also help his friends to succeed in the same struggle.  The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord with great power [12].  However his strength and authority are not so much asserted as allowed to come humbly to light in a showing of wounds and scars.  Jesus’ dominion has little prestige.  The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone [13].  The evidence of rejection remains.  A cornerstone might be out of sight.  That it is foundational is not immediately obvious.  We err if we suppose that Jesus rejected is not strong.  It would be a mistake to worry that those lacerated hands cannot support us.

The followers of Christ are securely founded on his strength.  We do not, however, always feel strong.  The doors were closed in the room where the disciples were [14]. The One who has burst out of the tomb arrives to find his friends cowering fearfully and locked away.  He immediately inspires faith among those who have shown themselves fickle and unreliable.  They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord [15].  Did they remember that he had earlier asked: do you believe at last? Listen the time will come – in fact it has come already – when you will be scattered each going his own way, and leaving me alone. And yet I am not alone because the Father is with me [16].   God, Father, Son and Spirit are present in us, strengthening us and transforming us despite our cowardice and our mistaken feeling that we are on our own.  The followers of Jesus are people who have been through the great persecution, and have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb [17]. We may ourselves have ben the persecutors, or, at least the traitors and cowards. A week after Easter, after days of celebration and joy, those who have been baptised might lay aside their white robes[18].  However, the baptismal promises are to be kept forever.  We intend always to look for inspiration to what the Lord teaches us, rejoicing in the redemption which he offers us.  Like new-born infants you must long for the pure spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation [19].  Christ has given and demonstrated to all of us a way of life which allows us to be like him.  God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son [20]. 

The appropriation of the new life shared by the risen Lord becomes apparent in an existence founded on divine love and lived according to the commandments. This is what loving God is – keeping his commandments [21].   By making us like himself, Jesus strengthens us for an obedience to the Father like his own. The precious wounds on his risen body testify to his having done what was asked of him. The sharing of the strength of the resurrection and the defeat of all that opposes it, notably sin and death, give rise in disciples to fidelity to what has been taught.  His commandments are not difficult, for anyone who has been begotten by God has already overcome the world [22].  Confidence in the Lord’s triumph and easy acceptance and of what he asks of us are still not what we always feel.  However, thanks to the Spirit, we know that we possess the power of Jesus even when we do not feel it. He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit [23]. This Spirit is the truth [24] and is a continuing witness to what, in our first enthusiasm, we accepted with joy.  In fact, there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and all three of them agree [25].  We are sustained by the continuing spiritual presence of the Lord in whom we have been baptised and who shed his blood for our salvation.  

Anyone who has the Son has life [26].  Christ invigorates us.  He strengthens us through the Holy Spirit. He empowers us through baptism to live obedient to the commandments. When our faith falters, he shows us his wounds.  The evidence of his suffering prompts us to try to help others who are in pain and to endure our own troubles with steady trust in his power to bring good out of evil.  Living in this way all may grasp and rightly understand in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose Blood they have been redeemed [27].   Our gratitude to the Lord for what he has done for us places us beside the apostles to whom he appeared after his resurrection. He said to them: you believe because you have seen me.  Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe [28].   Such is the abundant strength of the One who has risen, and so willingly does he share it with those who trust him, that we are joyfully in communion with all who have seen and believed, or simply believed. Happiness and communion are his gifts to those to whom lovingly he extends his hands.  The hands of Jesus are strong to help everyone.  The marks on them are the proofs of love.

Homily by Father Peter Gallagher SJ

[1]              John 18.37

[2]              John 12.33

[3]              1 John 5.5

[4]              John 20.21

[5]              1 John 5.2

[6]              John 20.31

[7]              John 18.36

[8]              John 19.2-3

[9]              John 19. 19 and 20

[10]            John 20.20

[11]            John 20.27

[12]            Acts 4.33

[13]            Psalm (118) 117.22

[14]            John 20.19

[15]            John 20.20

[16]            John 16.31-32

[17]            Apocalypse 7.15

[18]            Second Sunday of Easter, Dominica in albis, ‘the Sunday of the white garments’

[19]            1 Peter 2.2 and The Roman Missal, Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy) Entrance Antiphon

[20]            1 John 5.11

[21]            1 John 5.3

[22]            1 John 5.3-5

[23]            John 20.22-23

[24]            1 John 5.6

[25]            1 John 5.7

[26]            1 John 5.12

[27]            The Roman Missal, Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy) Collect

[28]            John 20.29