Touching the Wounds of Jesus

In this morning's homily for the Feast of Thomas the Apostle, Pope Francis summed up many of the themes he has sounded in these morning homilies at Santa Marta. Here is a key passage (with typos corrected):

"We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to the body – the body – the soul too, but – I stress - the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked because he is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he's in jail because he is in the hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards Him, but through these His wounds. 'Oh, great! Let's set up a foundation to help everyone and do so many good things to help '. That's important, but if we remain on this level, we will only be philanthropic. We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally. Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed."

Pope Francis concluded that we do not need to go on a “refresher course” to touch the living God, but to enter into the wounds of Jesus, and for this "all we have to do is go out onto the street. Let us ask St. Thomas for the grace to have the courage to enter into the wounds of Jesus with tenderness and thus we will certainly have the grace to worship the living God."

As has been widely reported, Pope Francis's first encyclical, on "Faith," will be released Friday. He claims it is the work of "four hands" – he completing what Benedict began.

Less reported is the Pope's decision to go on Monday to the island of Lampedusa (closer to Tunisia than to Sicily), the destination of so many migrants from Africa seeking a better life; and, tragically, a destination so many lose their lives trying to reach.

Francis's decision to go there for his first papal trip outside Rome was in response to an invitation from the local pastor and has created a sensation in Italy as another evangelical gesture on the part of the "Franciscan" Pope. He does not want to be welcomed by government ministers or ecclesiastical dignitaries, but only by the local mayor and the Archbishop of Agrigento. Some details may be found here.


Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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