Yesterday, I (Craig) was given the opportunity to reflect on John 20:19-25 during the Upper Room's Wednesday morning chapel service along with several other interns. This text from John tells the story of Jesus appearing to the apostles after his resurrection; however, Thomas was not present at that initial meeting. Verse 25 ends the passage with Thomas saying that he will not believe unless he sees and feels the wounds on Jesus' body. With this story in mind, we were invited to discuss where we'd seen Jesus. I talked about Riverbend. In light the recent posts I've made about visiting prisons, I thought these words might be a good fit for the Tokens blog as well. I hope you find them helpful. Feel free to comment below. In today’s reading (John 20:19-25), we hear Thomas say he will never believe that Jesus has risen, unless he sees the scars left by the instruments of Jesus’ execution on Jesus’ body. Thomas realizes that without bearing the wounds of execution, Jesus cannot be present.
In a like manner, we see Jesus most vividly when we see the wounds and scars of others. Whether here in the workplace, or in our homes, or in other places of ministry, Jesus stands in solidarity with our woundedness.
Elsewhere in the gospels, Matthew presents us with the story of Jesus describing the final judgment; there Jesus tells his disciples that they will find him by being with the wounded, scarred, and broken, saying, "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. . . . Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (Matt 25:35-36, 40).
We find Jesus therefore in the eyes of those who hunger, thirst, immigrate, in the faces of those who need clothes, healthcare, and reconciliation.
And so, just as he said I would, I have seen Jesus at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. Most recently, I saw him outside the prison’s chapel, standing by while an incarcerated priest blessed the new necklace I had bought a few weeks earlier at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Most consistently, I see Jesus around the table in Building 11’s Conference Room, where a group of inmates and visitors sit in egalitarian community, sharing stories and participating in worship together.
I see Jesus in prison, but he pops up in lots of places when we go looking for him. He’s hanging out off 8th Avenue at Room In The Inn; he’s eating bread with folks at the Nashville Rescue Mission; he’s getting bandages at the Siloam Family Health Center. He bears scars, and he’s with those who bear scars of their own. And there we are to be too, so that we can see, be with, and learn from our scarred and risen Savior.
—Craig D. Katzenmiller Social Media Editor, TOKENS