Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of a Saint very dear to my heart (no pun intended), Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. She spearheaded the promulgation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (who was spear-hearted!), which was always present in the Church in one form or another but not formally recognized until then.
Before I started telling my own story about leaving the Convent and struggling with my eating disorder, I used to envy others who had seemingly more glorious stories. I thought my story was boring and embarrassing. Later on, however, I learned that my friends and acquaintances thought otherwise. And I soon realized that the Lord was a big fan of my story, not because it was particularly intriguing, but because it was the beginning of the story of my redemption. I started to see my wounded past as salvific, instead of shameful.
And if I can have this kind of experience – that my story is important and that my life has meaning and purpose – then certainly you can too! Each of our lives is so filled to the brim with extra-ordinariness in the midst of ordinariness, with grace in the midst of trial, with love in the midst of fear and pain, and mercy and forgiveness in the midst of apparent failure. So no matter who you are and what you struggle with, those sufferings are valuable gems. They are like the jewels on the Cross that represent the 5 Wounds of Christ. The points of access to redemption and salvation.
I love the images of Saint Thomas the Apostle when the Lord asked him to but his finger in his side, revealing to him and to us the gaping wound in His Side.
It is in His Wounds that we find refuge. There we realize that He knows our pain and our wounds. And as we put our finger into His Side we experience His vulnerability and humility. We realize the boldness of His trust in the Father’s Love that led Him to the Cross, to His seeming abandonment by the Father, and to His suffering and death.
But this wound is not a sign of failure and pain. It is the mark of His glorious Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. In His Wounded Side we find, for us, the Love of His Sacred Heart, the Mercy He lavishes upon us, and the freedom He offers us in uniting our wounds to His. Yes, in Him we find freedom. Apart from Him there is nothing. When we try to rely on own accomplishments for affirmation and self-worth we end up being trapped under an avalanche of guilt, shame, unworthiness, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. But when we open our wounds to Christ and have the audacity to let Him see us as we really are, broken and in need of so many things, it is then that he pours Himself into us.
And despite the nothingness we may feel at times, the messiness of our life we finally admit to ourselves, and the rawness of the feeling of those wounds, we are finally filled. We no longer have this gaping empty bandaided wound because the Precious Blood of Jesus has finally gained access.
As we celebrate Saint Margaret Mary, who was given the vision of the Sacred Heart and who united her own heart to His, let us make a gift of our wounded hearts to the Lord and see Him graciously accept them, heal them, and care for them.