Reading: Isaiah 1: 16-20
It is unlikely that there are many, if any of us, who are free from at least a scar or two somewhere on our bodies. Nearly all of us have large or small scars resulting from an accident, old wounds, injuries, or surgery. Let us think together for a while concerning the scars we have. At the time the injury occurred, we were writhing in terrible pain. It was the centre of our attention and concern. If it had not been properly cleansed, we could have died from the infection.
Gradually the wound healed, but it left a bright and perhaps ugly red or black scar. This in time faded gradually into the faint line or marking that remains today. The scars that we have serve as a great symbol. It is a symbol of one of the wonderful miracles of life – the miracle of healing. Cuts do not bleed forever. Injuries do not remain always painful. The flesh, though separated, grows back together again. All of this is built into the laws of life. It is the witness of a Creator who cares about his creation. The scars that remain remind us of the God who seeks to heal.
Let us now turn to the scars in another area of our lives. All of us have had some very painful experiences in life. To name just a few, we may have lost a dearly loved one in death. Or we may have hurt someone very near and dear to us. Or we may have gone through a horrifying experience at the hands of some other person. Or we may have been responsible for an accident that took someone else’s life, or permanently injured him. Or a love affair may have ended badly, or we may have hurt someone who had their full trust in us. Or someone we trusted may have betrayed our trust in him.
Some of these painful experiences leave behind the memories of our lives a horrible, bright, and very ugly scar. Sometimes even when the memories fade, the scars remain. Today we are reminded that we can be healed by God’s love and forgiveness.
To come to the aspect of healing physical wounds, we know that we can interfere with the healing of a bodily wound if we do not take care of it. We can allow it to become infected, so that it continues to pain and does not heal. It becomes a chronic condition. Likewise, we can mis-handle a hurt of the soul. We can let it become infected with the germs of hatred, guilt, or despair, and it will not heal. It becomes a chronic condition – a spiritual sore on our soul. Sometimes, persons vainly try to drown it in drugs, alcohol or frantic living. But for real healing to take place, it must be cleansed by God’s forgiveness, and through the release of the human love that lies bottled up within us.
If anyone is still suffering from an old injury to the soul that will not heal, to him the Divine Physician says, “Let go, and let it be cleansed and healed.” There is nothing regarding injury of the soul that God will not, or cannot heal.
The scar, however, will remain. That God does not take away. And it is undoubtedly just as well. The scar serves as a reminder that we are human, and that we can hurt and be hurt. It is the Divine Physician who heals. It is he who says: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Scars on the body, and scars on the soul – both are reminders that God does heal.
Dr. (Fr.) John Parankimalil, SDB
Reflection at Nairobi University, Kenya
27 December 2012