Contemplate My Wounds

As I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament and greeting the five wounds of Jesus, at each salutation I felt a torrent of graces gushing into my soul, giving me a foretaste of heaven and absolute confidence in God's mercy.

Jesus told me that I please Him best by meditating on His sorrowful Passion and by such meditation much light falls upon my soul.

- From the Diary of St. Faustina, 1337, 267

There is a true story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance of recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was an ideal donor.

"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister."

Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room. Mary, pale and thin. Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.

As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube. With the ordeal almost over, Johnny's voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence.

"Doctor, when do I die?" he asked.

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he agreed to donate his blood. He thought giving his blood to his sister would mean giving up his life. In that brief moment, he had made his great decision.

This is an illustration of our own need to be given a transfusion of Christ's blood, for the good of our own health of body and soul. His blood was poured out from His five wounds on the cross. Every drop was lovingly shared so that you and I could find protection, healing and union with Him. "By His stripes we are healed" (Is 53:5).

The little boy thought he was going to die, but then he realized he didn't have to. Jesus didn't have to die, but He realized he had to. Our Lord was determined to follow the will of His Father for our salvation. Jesus knew only too well what excruciating pain He was about to experience in the shedding of the very last of His blood and water. Jesus held nothing back. Our Lord made the supreme decision to give everything. Just as this little boy loved his sister so much that he was willing to die because he knew and loved her, Christ exhibited His love for us even before we knew Him.

Jesus wasn't just satisfied by merely telling us that He loved. He was required to show the meaning of His love and came down from His throne, willing to die in order to prove that love. We can only marvel at what lengths Divinity must go to make a point.

As we enter more deeply into the Lenten season, we honor the memory of the blood that was liberally poured out for our salvation. Saint Maria Faustina recorded in her Diary the graces there are for us as we constantly recall and learn more from His passion.

It was Jesus who told her: "When it seems to you that your suffering exceeds your strength, contemplate My wounds" (Diary, 1184, 1512).

Meditation upon His wounds pleases Jesus, and benefits all of us as well. That, in itself, can motivate us to reflect upon them. His mercy is manifested in these wounds since He sacrificed Himself for our sins and for those sins committed against us.

One of the best ways that I feel has helped me appreciate the wounds of Jesus is by reflecting on them while praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. When meditating on the "meaning" of these sacred wounds, I deepen my appreciation of what our Lord had to endure, and my prayer life is greatly enriched.

Jesus said: "There are few souls who contemplate My Passion with true feeling; I give great graces to souls who meditate devoutly on My Passion" (Diary, 737). Given this challenge by Jesus, we have a greater motivation to pray the chaplet with a better awareness of its content.

When we focus on the reality of His wounds, we are able to pray the chaplet with greater fervor. Each wound may have a personal meaning for us. Continued reflection on what Jesus endured can enable us to have our heart and mind convicted by the message that our Lord is trying to communicate. We permit ourselves a greater familiarity with His suffering in order to continue honoring His great personal sacrifice for us. Thus, an otherwise routine prayer experience can be transformed into a deeper understanding of God's purpose in enduring each wound.

Since the crown of thorns was imposed on Jesus before the crucifixion, we can begin our meditation on this part of His sacrifice.

The First Decade
We dwell on the multiple wounds caused by the thorns. These were real, not just symbolic. Our attention is drawn to the awareness that Jesus did not save us by His teaching alone. We see how He bore the insults heaped upon him by the Roman soldiers. He was forced to wear the humiliating crown of thorns that mocked His kingship and authority over us.

We can recognize in the soldiers' mockery of Jesus our willfulness and wanting to be our own authority and have our own way. While contemplating the sacred wounds of our Lord's head, we remain in awe that He accepted the punishment due to our sinful "thought life."

His acceptance of each thorn gives us a compelling realization that there are consequences of sins committed in our minds.

In the Gospel of Matthew, 15:19, we read: "From the mind stem evil designs - murder, adulterous conduct, fornication, stealing, false witness, blasphemy."

All sins first begin in our minds. Our Lord had to make atonement to the Father not only for the sins of the mind, but also for our yielding to these sins (see Diary, 741). Each thorn represents another opportunity to be grateful to Jesus for having endured all this for us as we continue to pray: "... for the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and the whole world."

By the same token, He suffered the anguish for the sins of those who falsely accuse us of own sins and transgressions. These negative judgments must be expiated. Our Lord also loves the very ones who make these accusations and takes upon Himself the sorrow and grief that these sins have caused us.

Jesus revealed the degree of His mercy by enduring the reparation for the sins of injustice against us. Through this action, He not only atoned, but extended forgiveness as well, with the expectation that we would likewise convey mercy and compassion to others. For many of us, this can truly be a dying to self. We show mercy by not only forgiving but symbolically dying to the notion of getting even or telling others about our experience. Mercy is forgiving the unforgivable.

"Vengeance is mine. I will repay" (Heb 10:30).

But what if we are not forgiving? What are the consequences of resentment, of our rage and desire for vengeance? Many individuals, weighed down with bitterness and un-forgiveness, are drained of life-giving energy. Eventually, this attitude can lead to despair of being forgiven. Many are burdened with toxic guilt and have no recourse to alleviate their consciences. Who will atone for all these, if not our Lord? For them, too, Jesus had to endure the crown
of thorns. "Both the sinner and the righteous person have need of My Mercy" (Diary, 1577).

In gratitude for His atonement we pray:

Eternal Father I offer You the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in reparation for our sins and those of the whole world.

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Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC, is on the staff of the Marian Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also provides spiritual direction, retreats, and seminars.

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