Live Life Beyond the Cross
In today’s Gospel, it says that in the first appearance to the disciples Jesus “showed them his hands and his side.” Why? Why must the Risen Christ have his wounds? Does it not seem strange that Jesus is raised from the dead but he still has the marks of his death. Why not have him raised without wounds, surely that would be a better sign of the glorified risen life?
These are some of the questions that have bothered me for years. Yet if Jesus was raised from the dead without his wounds, would his disciples have recognized him, would they have believed that it was really him? No. They would have said, “You cannot be Jesus as he died on a cross, crucified before our eyes.” Instead, Christ shows them the wounds and reminds them about the life beyond the cross, life beyond the wounds. Yes, Jesus is Risen and comes to give us peace and love. He comes to give us life beyond the cross.
There is no doubt we all have crosses to bear in this life. Some of us have heavier crosses than others, but all of us carry some cross. Whether self-induced or life-assigned, it is a fact of life we bear a cross of some sort. But the message of Christ is that we are called to live life beyond the cross. We are called not to settle for the cross itself but the resurrection that it promises us even as we suffer. If we wallow in the cross, we can easily become consumed with our suffering often allowing it to make us bitter, angry or a victim of life.
Ultimately the message of Easter is that Jesus is Risen beyond the cross, with wounds recognizable by all but now without suffering. He has wounds healed by God’s love. Jesus is fully human and fully divine and his resurrection reminds us that our human destiny is a divine reality—we too will be raised from the dead. So today, may we offer peace to all people like Christ did knowing that no matter what suffering we endure presently that we will not lose our joy, we will not lose our belief in the Risen Christ. We chose to believe in the Christ, wounded but healed, crucified but glorified, dead but alive, persecuted but vindicated. Yes, we believe in the Risen Lord.