Easter lilies in Trinity Church in front of carved wooden angels

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: Showing Up With Our Wounds

John 20:19–29

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

As this week’s Gospel begins Jesus’ disciples are together, locked away in fear. They have just experienced the gruesome state execution of their friend and teacher, and the religious authorities would likely do the same to them. Their hope is gone. Into this scene comes the resurrected Jesus bringing words of peace, showing his wounds, and breathing into them the power of the Holy Spirit. In all the mystery and drama of this scene, it is interesting that we tend to focus on Thomas “the doubter.” But Thomas is not any different than the rest of the disciples. They, too, got to encounter Jesus in person and see his wounds. Thomas receives Jesus’ word of peace just as the rest of the disciples did and his response to the encounter is the same as theirs.

So maybe instead of focusing on the doubts of Thomas, we could focus on the wounded Jesus bringing peace to a frightened group of followers. Like many of us who have faced trauma, fear, or disillusionment, they turned inward, away from the world. But Jesus shows up with his wounds, giving the disciples the power to forgive — to heal. They aren’t going to do that sitting in their locked room, but rather by taking their wounded selves into the world and sharing the peace Jesus has given them. May we, empowered by the same Spirit, do likewise.

—Ruth Frey

Glenn Jordan notes, “we can live a resurrected life with our woundedness.”

Christine Valters Paintner writes about embracing hurts and doubts as a spiritual practice.

Denise Levertov imagines Thomas’ experience and connects it to the man who pleaded with Jesus to help his unbelief.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio (1603) is one of the best known depictions of our Gospel story, although the text never tells us if Thomas actually did touch Jesus’ wounds.

NewFound Road performs
 The Stanley Brothers song, “I am the Man, Thomas.” Here are the lyrics.


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Coming Up

Join the Trinity community in exploring the history and significance of stained glass, and the messages found within, Sundays at 10am in Discovery. This week, we’ll focus on the new east-facing stained-glass window being installed at Trinity Church this year.

Father Michael Bird will discuss the New York Diocesan Convention resolutions related to gender identity and will review new liturgies for transgender persons, particularly for renaming, in the next LGBTQ+ Concerns Group meeting on Tuesday, April 26.