Some of you may remember the movie Slumdog Millionaire made about 10 years ago. Jamal and Latika became friends from an early age in the midst of great hardship. They were used and abused, and separated time and time again. But every time it happened, Jamal did everything he could to find her. One time when she tried to see him, she’s dragged away by the people holding her captive before she can get to him. As Jamal runs after her, he could only watch helplessly as they pulled Latika into a car and cut her cheek with a knife as they drove away. At the moment when they were finally able to reach each other, Latika was wearing a scarf around her head. As Jamal removed the scarf, Latika looked away from, embarrassed by the now exposed scar on her face. But then he looks at her, and before doing or saying anything else, he gently turns her head and kisses her scar.
When I reflect upon the scene where Jamal kisses the scar of Latika I think it said a couple of things. The first thing was that the wound in Jamal’s eyes was not a thing of shame. It was a thing of redemption. He accepted it as part of who Latika now was and he loved her all the more for it. To have ignored the wound would have been to ignore a significant part of their story. Secondly, I think he came to the realization that the wound was also a sign of the great love she had for him.
Today’s Gospel is all about woundedness; the invisible wounds of unbelief that were present in Thomas and the visible wounds of Jesus. Jesus freely shows his wounds to Thomas in order to demonstrate that, rather than being a thing of shame, they are a sign of victory. They are now part of who he now is as risen Lord. In inviting Thomas to touch his wounds Jesus hoped he would come to this understanding. Once he does this Thomas came to the realization just how much Jesus loved him. In the process his own woundedness was now transformed to the point where he was now free enough to make a profound act of faith: “My Lord and my God.”
We all experience wounds in life, whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual. Quite often we can view these moments as times of utter defeat and devastation. We can be tempted to want to hide them and cover them up. Quite often the last thing we want is for them to be touched because we don’t want anyone to see our vulnerability. But to deny the wounds is to deny some of the very things that shape who we are and who we are called to become. It was in experiencing Christ in all his woundedness that Thomas’ faith became stronger than ever.
When Christ rose from the dead he had conquered sin and death. He had won. His wounds were not erased or covered. They remained to tell a story of redemption. They remind us just how much our God loves us. Without the wounds there could be no resurrection. Without the wounds Thomas could not come to faith. I believe this Gospel story is told in the hope that we too will see that our own wounds present a pathway to love, healing and redemption. Like Thomas they present an opportunity for our faith to become stronger than ever.