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Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: July 30, 2022
By Dc. John Paul Hartnedy
Recently, I’ve found myself drawn to “The Incredulity of St. Thomas,” a painting by Italian artist Caravaggio. It seems to focus the eye on the central aspects of his painting while leaving others half-shrouded in mystery. In this painting, Caravaggio depicts the moment when Jesus encounters the apostles after his resurrection.
Thomas had said to his companions that he would not believe in Jesus’ resurrection unless he could touch the risen Lord himself; putting his hand in his pierced side and his fingers in the nail marks.
When our crosses are brought into contact with Jesus through the wounds of his cross, we, like Thomas, experience the healing and salvation of the resurrection. Like the apostle, we are renewed, and faith buds forth more strongly in us.
What caught my eye this time was Jesus’ left hand. While his arm is in darkness, the hand is bathed in light, strongly grasping Thomas’ own hand. Jesus guides the apostle’s finger into the wound inflicted by the soldier’s lance. This powerful moment is a source of healing and renewed faith for Thomas, so much so that he is changed forever.
Caravaggio highlights the essential role the wounds of Jesus play in the brief but intimate moment with his struggling apostle. It might otherwise be easy for us to overlook that the risen Lord still bears the wounds of crucifixion in his body. Whereas before, these injuries were the cause of intense suffering and death, now they have been transformed.
With his hand in Jesus’ side, Thomas experiences firsthand that the cross, which had been an instrument of torture and pain, has been transformed into an instrument of healing and salvation for everyone who encounters it. Caravaggio invites us into that moment by placing us so close to Thomas and Jesus in the painting.
We even have a better view than the other apostles. He comes to us in our times of doubt, suffering and struggles. When our crosses are brought into contact with Jesus through the wounds of his cross, we, like Thomas, experience the healing and salvation of the resurrection. Like the apostle, we are renewed, and faith buds forth more strongly in us.
Encountering the one who loves us the most is how our own wounds that we carry are healed over time. We still bear them, but they are transformed from sources of pain into sources of grace and faith for ourselves and others.
Dc. John Paul Hartnedy, a member of St. Edward Church in Little Rock, is a diocesan seminarian attending Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas. This article was originally published in Arkansas Catholic. Copyright Diocese of Little Rock. All rights reserved. This article may be copied or redistributed with acknowledgement and permission of the publisher.