The image that comes to my mind of Thomas putting his hand into the wounds of Jesus is one that is difficult to consider. Over the years of hearing this Gospel, my most frequent thought has been; don’t be like Thomas, do not doubt the living Christ but believe! I haven’t really dared to delve into the actual idea of the disciple actually putting his hands into Jesus’ wounded hands and side…until now. In the shock of seeing his friend alive and the likely embarrassment because of his disbelief when others told the story, I imagine that Thomas must have moved timidly, slowly, tenderly as he touched the flesh of Jesus.
”Our greatest strength lies in the gentleness and tenderness of our hearts” Rumi
The collection of prayers that is known as the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours is also known as the prayer of the church, they are ancient prayers that priests, religious, and the laity pray each day. The first prayer of the day, the Canticle of Zachariah, is grounded in the Hebrew Bible and its promises fleshed out in the Gospel of Luke, thus having a solid Scriptural underpinning.
Some of the words of this prayer are worth taking a closer look at in this season of Easter. They are words of comfort and peace, filled with a gentle assurance from our Creator.
“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet in the way of peace.”
What a beautiful thought to begin the day, the “tender compassion of our God” breaking upon us! During these days of snow and cold on a spring day, in days when things can be uncertain and challenging, it is reassuring to read these ancient words giving us a reminder that God is with us, in tenderness and compassion. Reading this prayer reminds me how very important words are. I make an effort every day to be aware of my words, some days I am more successful than others but the idea is never far from my mind. In spite of occasional frustrations and unforeseen pitfalls, words of kindness, hope, and healing are important and need to be a part of my default settings.
Whenever I hear the words tenderness, gentleness, or compassion or even when I speak them, I can feel my blood pressure drop, and my mind and body relax. Those words, those postures give us comfort, they unify us, they just make us feel better. Tenderness may not make headlines or even be easily identified in our everyday lives but when we feel it in giving or receiving, it changes things and makes us better. Those sentiments actually empower us, there is a sense of tenderness and compassion coming from God and flowing into us in a mystical powerful way.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” Henri Nouwen
My prayer today is that I am able, that we are able to engender tenderness with ourselves and with each other as we continue to live these 50 days of Easter. I pray that we can, through God’s grace, tenderly place ourselves near the wounds of others and compassionately walk with those who are in pain. I pray that we are all able to approach this world of ours with a gentle touch and the confidence that In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high will break upon us.
Extending a Blessed Easter Season to all,