Meet Him in His Wounds

As a Franciscan postulant, I got to spend time ministering to the people of our neighborhood in Lawrence, Mass.  Lawrence is the poorest town in the state.  Though historically it has beautiful character in its work ethic and family culture, it now has much of the breakdown in family and neighborhood that are too typical in this time in poor urban cities.  Couple that with the many recent church closings in the city, and many of the kids grow up wounded.

One of the neighborhood kids was a 5-year-old girl named Darlene.  She and her two sisters lived in an apartment with their mother.  Unfortunately, if you went into her home, you would find strangers coming and going, some drugs and drinking, and, well, an awful place to grow up.  She must have wounds from all of it.  But the friars were able to bring her and her sisters out to the neighborhood activities.

Well one day when the kids had a day off from school and the friars had an activity day for them, Darlene was able to come.  At the end of the day, there was a Mass in a nearby church.  I sat with Darlene at the Mass and quietly helped her to follow along in the missal.  Now, the seat she had chosen happened to be directly next to a life-sized statue of Jesus pointing to His Heart.  His gaze was fixed directly on us.

Well, during the first reading, she had to go to the bathroom.  “Can you wait?”  Dumb question.  So, off we went to hunt for a bathroom.  Up to the back of the church, then down the side aisle and into the sacristry room.  Then, on the way back, again, down one side aisle, then up the other.  The other kids were distracted and laughing.  I thought, “Lord, this isn’t going too well.”

At the end of the Mass, I suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned, and Darlene was holding her palm up to me.  Without saying a word, she used her pointing finger from her other hand to tap the middle of her palm, referring to the wounds she could plainly see in the Lord’s hands in the statue.  I nodded my head to let her know that I saw.

Then I leaned over to her and said, “He’s looking right at us.”  She turned to look at the statue.  While she stared at His gaze, I asked quietly, “What is He saying to you?”  After a brief pause, she turned back to me and whispered:

” ‘I love you.’ ”

If we really want to know the Lord, I mean if we really want to know Him as a true Friend, then He’ll meet us in wounds, His and ours.  Through His wounds and our wounds, He pours His healing Love into us: “By his wounds, you have been healed.” (1 Pet 2:24)

Through wounds, We become Friends.

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