Saturday, April 14, 2012

Jesus of the Scars

The gospel lesson for the Sunday after Easter (tomorrow) is John 20:19-31 which tells of Jesus' appearance to Thomas after the resurrection. For the seventh day of the Octave of Easter, here is a bit of a preview from William Temple's commentary on that gospel:

The wounds of Christ are his credentials to the suffering race of men. Shortly after the Great War [WW I], when its memories and its pains were fresh in mind, a volume was published under the title Jesus of the Scars, and Other Poems by Edward Shilito. The poem from which the title was taken stands first in the book and is headed by the text, ‘He showed them His hands and His side’:

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are two calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.

If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

Only a God in whose perfect Being pain has its place can win and hold our worship.
- Readings in St. John’s Gospel

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