As we celebrate Mother’s Day today in the Archdiocese of Lagos, it is apposite we reflect on Mothers as wounded healers in the family. A typical example of a wounded healer is Jesus Christ. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus appears to his disciples who were in the state of grief, hopelessness and fear, but as soon as they saw the Lord, their joy was rekindled. This was to fulfil the words of Jesus Christ in John 16:22 “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you”.
He appears bearing the visible wounds of his scourging, carrying the cross, of his crowning with thorns and of his crucifixion. The disciples may not have not recognised Jesus without the wounds of his body. For Thomas the apostle, faith in the risen Christ needs strengthening by seeing and touching Jesus’ wounds. However, despite the pains, sufferings and eventually his death on the Cross, he was still able to consecrates the disciples for the mission by breathing on them, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The truth is that nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, spiritually, emotionally or mentally.
The question is not, “How we can hide our wounds, because, we don’t want to feel embarrassed, but “How can we put our ‘woundedness’ in the service of others? When our wounds ceases to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing to others, then, we become wounded healers. One of the fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves is, how can we use our wounds to heal the wounds of others? Henri Nouwen in his book “The Wounded Healer” describes how we are able to use our wounds to heal others. He explained that in our own ‘woundedness’ we can be a source of life for others. The Book of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 says“Therefore, we do not worship or follow a God who does not understand what it is to be wounded.” Isaiah 52 and 53 describes the ugly and painful wounds Jesus suffered for us, reminding us of how wounded we are. As we hang on the cross with Jesus, it does not take long to discover why he was willing to bear such wounds. One of the most effective ways of demonstrating the love of Christ is being present with someone in their ‘woundedness’, listening to them, and allowing them to know that they are understood. Christ is counting on us to be his listening ears, his loving heart, and his understanding presence. Paul in his letter to the Galatians says: “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). When we become wounded healers, we heal our own wounds. Being a wounded healer also means healing the wounds of Jesus.
Christ said in Matthew 25:40 says: “Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.” In Christ, God became one of us and became wounded like the rest of us. And it is through Christ that we understand that God Almighty is intimately connected to us and is deeply impacted by the care and compassion that we attempt to give even to the least among us. The wounds of Jesus Christ similarly point to the wounds of ourmothers. Christ’s wounds remind us of the unhealed wounds that we often carry in our hearts. These are wounds caused by past mistakes and failures, doubts and worries, betrayals from husband and children, broken relationships, abuse and guilt, infidelity in marriage by the husband, selfishness, domestic violence, hatred, negligence, pains from stubborn or wayward children. Healers are spiritual warriors who have found the courage to defeat the darkness of their souls. Mothers, on this day, you must find the courage to heal the marks of wounds that you bear in the family, because the faith and moral formation of the family depends on you.
Moreover, the question we need to grapple with on this day is, how can we have authentic Christian mothers in a world that now has so little that is Christian about it? How can a mother’s faith influence her spouse and children in an environment that is hostile to her, or at least ignores her relevance in the society? The truth is that being a Christian mother today is not an easy task, we must acknowledge this. We need Christian mothers who will go against the tide and make significant impact in the faith formation of the family and the society. Faith is no longer, as it was perhaps in other times, a sort of choice to be taken for granted.
It is a decision to witness to Jesus Christ through their own conviction by being a model for other mothers who are lukewarm in their faith. Dear friends in Christ, what should our response be to being wounded? How does God want us to handle our wounds? Is there hope for the wounded? I believe that there is still a remedy for our wounds. There is hope for our scars. And this hope begins with our willingness to heal the wounds of others. Jesus is the wounded healer who heals all wounds and the merciful companion through healing process.
This implies that mothers must learn how to be wounded healers in their family. They must learn how to embrace their wounds and present them to the risen Christ for healing. They must equally forgive those who have created such wounds in their lives, and reach out to the wounded. Healing can never come from anger or revenge but in true forgiveness and repentance. By taking refuge in Christ’s wounds, dear brothers and sisters, may you know the healing balm of the Father’s mercy and find strength to bring it to others, to anoint every hurt and every painful memory. In this way, you will be faithful witnesses of reconciliation and peace that God wants to reign in every human heart, family and community.
- Rev. Fr. Joseph Oyekunle is the Assistant Director, Directorate of Social Communications, Archdiocese of Lagos.