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Show and Tell

Do you recognize this person?  How? You can’t see his face, and he doesn’t have his distinctive eyewear yet. But you can tell from the scar that this is Harry Potter. In today’s reading, Jesus’ followers learn to recognize him in two ways. One is by seeing his scars; listen for the other way.

Scripture Reading

Luke 24:36b-48


Not that anybody is necessarily gunning for my job, but there’s a certain occupational hazard that I face. It’s when I go to visit somebody in the hospital, and they say, “Hey, look at my scar!” The worst ones are after a knee replacement, so take good care of your joints. I’ve seen scary movies and done first aid; I can do gore, just not staples.

So when I imagine Jesus’ scars three days after his massive hamartolectomy, well… If I were one of the early disciples, I would wish I’d believed sooner that he’s really alive. Then again, believing that his body is alive is only half of Jesus’ point. This is about more than just whether or not somebody is alive.

We don’t only show and remember our scars because we’re alive. After all, weren’t we alive before the scars? No, we honor our scars because they help us recognize what we’ve been through. They show that we’ve taken our experience into ourselves.

It matters that Jesus didn’t escape from death. Instead, he conquered it. He took death into himself and made life from it. The scars show that it really happened, it’s not just an idea.

As strange and mysterious as the resurrection is, it’s also a physical, material event. It’s not about some perfect, ideal realm, it’s something that happens in real human life (with scars and everything).

There’s grace in Jesus’ scars, precisely because they’re still there after life conquers death. Because the scars are there, we don’t have to be perfect and unblemished to belong to God; neither is Jesus. Because the scars are there, we don’t have to pretend that our past selves don’t exist. As we find, our strength for service, and the compassion to guide us, often come from our old wounds.

I remember a conversation between two coworkers. Between the two of them, these women had made four different choices about pregnancies – one had had an abortion once and chose to parent another baby, the other had placed her first child for adoption and was pregnant again. These women heard each other with new ears, beyond what many of us could have understood. The depth of their shared experience, there at that table, was grace.

This story is not about Jesus’ scars, it’s about ours. It’s not about Jesus’ resurrection, it’s about ours. Jesus doesn’t show up, show off his new piercings, and leave. Instead, he asks for a bite to eat. It’s not that everything makes sense now for the disciples, or for us, but Jesus became real in the act of human sharing.

Most of us are not called to die on a cross and live again, but we’re all invited to receive the resurrection in our own bodies, to welcome each other and serve in Jesus’ name. As we give our resources, may we find ourselves richer. As we listen and carry others’ pain, may we find strength in our wounds. As we embrace the world, may we be received in the name of the risen Christ.