Recently a man came to me, asking for help. He carried some deep wounds, not physical wounds but emotional wounds to his soul. What surprised me initially was that, while he was deeply wounded, he had not been severely traumatised either in childhood or adulthood. He seemed to have just absorbed the normal bumps and bruises that everyone has to absorb: some belittling, some bullying, never being the favourite, dissatisfaction with his own body, unfairness within his family and siblings, career frustration, unfairness in his workplace, the sense of being chronically ignored, the sense of never being understood and appreciated, and the self-pity and lack of self-confidence that results from this.
But he was a sensitive man and the combination of all these seemingly little things left him, now in late mid-life, unable to be the gracious, happy elder he wanted to be. Instead, by his own admission, he was chronically caught up in a certain wounded self-absorption, namely, in a self-centred anxiety that brought with it the sense that life had not been fair to him. Consequently, he was forever somewhat focused on self-protection and was resentful of those who could step forward openly in self-confidence and love. “I hate it,” he shared, “when I see persons like Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul speak with such easy self-confidence about how big their hearts are. I always fill with resentment and think: ‘Lucky you! You haven’t had to put up with what I’ve had to put up with in life!’”
This man had been through some professional therapy which had helped bring him to a deeper self-understanding, but still left him paralysed in terms of moving beyond his wounds. “What can I do with these wounds?” he asked.
My answer to him, as for all of us who are wounded, is: take those wounds to the Eucharist. Every time you go to a Eucharist, stand by an altar and receive Communion and bring your helplessness and paralysis to God. Ask him to touch your body, your heart, your memory, your bitterness, your lack of self-confidence, your self-absorption, your weaknesses and your impotence. Bring your aching body and heart to God. Express your helplessness in simple, humble words: “Touch me. Take my wounds. Take my paranoia. Make me whole. Give me forgiveness. Warm my heart. Give me the strength that I cannot give myself.”
Pray this prayer not just when you are receiving Communion and being physically touched by the Body of Christ, but especially during the Eucharistic prayer, because it is there that we are not just being touched and healed by a person, Jesus, but we are also being touched and healed by a sacred event.
This is the part of the Eucharist we generally do not understand, but it is the part that celebrates transformation and healing from wound and sin. In the Eucharistic prayer we commemorate the “sacrifice” of Jesus, that is, that event where, as Christian tradition so enigmatically puts it, Jesus was made sin for us. There is a lot in that cryptic phrase. In essence, in his suffering and death, Jesus took on our wounds, our weaknesses, our infidelities and our sins, died in them, and then through love and trust brought them to wholeness. Every time we go to the Eucharist we are meant to let that transforming event touch us, our wounds, our weaknesses, our infidelities, our sin and our emotional paralysis and bring us to a transformation in wholeness, energy, joy and love.
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