Monday, June 10, 2013

Wounds - our touch points with God

Wounds are a part of our lives.  Much as parents of newborn babes try so hard to prevent wounds from happening from the time of their births, we all know that this is a pointless exercise as there are bound to be moments where all eyes are off the baby and the precious little tot bumps the head or knocks into a chair corner and bruises himself or herself in the process.  There is very little that can be done (apart from living in a bubble) that can ensure that we do not get injured or wounded in our lives. 

I make this reflection on two connected points – last Friday, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where we look anew and worship the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, wounded out of love for all humanity – a woundedness that is taken on willingly and out of love for sinful humankind in response to the will of God the Father.  Connected to this is a reminder to me of my own woundedness that I physically bear as I live with an open wound in my chest in the form of a Subclavian Central Venous Catheter, also known as an open line that gives direct access to my subclavian vein so that medication like chemotherapy drugs and blood tests can be easily obtained without numerous piercings into my arms and hands.  It is still a medical marvel to me how this open wound can be in me for some 5 months how without it being infected, though I must admit that I take great care to prevent any forms of infection it is after all, an open would in my chest!

In our spiritual journey we too are bearers of many wounds.  Some may be self inflicted when we misunderstand Church teachings and think that we are marginalized and put of the sidelines.  A little good and clear catechesis, imparted with a great deal of charity, patience and love goes a long way in clearing most misunderstandings and imagined prejudices. 

But what of wounds that are given by God?  Some wounds are not a result of any misunderstandings or misconstrued notions.  These would be the innocent wounds which come about as a result of our faithfulness to God and living out what Mother Church teaches about transformative love and a suffering that comes with them as our training ground in deep spirituality. 

When I contemplate on this as part of my meditations, I often take with me the appearance of Jesus at the Upper Room after the Resurrection to the fear ridden apostles.  Why did Jesus appear with his wounds?  It was the connection point of his humanity with his divinity that the prevalence of his wounds, still visible in his glorious resurrected being, that gives us all great hope in our living with our wounds while we journey on this earth.  Isn’t this a sign that our wounds, when carried with love and non-violence (marked so clearly by Jesus’ own forgiving words while hanging on the Cross at Calvary) is what we too carry with us into heaven? 

But if we only harbour grudges, umbrage and bitterness in our hearts for our wounds inflicted on us by loved ones and life in general, we will have very little to take with us into glory as there is no room for such in an eternity with God.  We would only display much vehemence to those who had caused these wounds rather than look upon them with forgiveness and compassion, and vehemence and heaven are as compatible as chalk and cheese; gratitude and pride.

We don’t have to go very far to pin point the kinds of wounds that we bear in our heart.  A parent whose child is abusive and unfilial; a spouse who tries so hard to live out the pains of true committed marital love despite a seemingly loveless marriage; a parishioner of a church who has deep disagreement with the policies of the Parish Priest but still goes to Mass to the same parish without gossiping about his or her displeasures or insisting on things changing before having a change of heart; difficult and painful medical treatments that we have to go through to ensure our sustained health and lives; perennial troubles with the in-laws despite trying so hard to love and forgive.  These are all very real wounds that many innocently bear as a testimony of love.  But if the love is not directed to God, it can be something that wounds even further, deepening the hurt.

But isn’t it when we take our faith seriously and carry these wounds to God and surrender them to him in a similar spirit that Jesus did on the Cross, that these wounds actually do something good for our lives?  It makes the meaningless meaningful.  It makes meaningful the surrender that is required of the broken human soul.  That is because God can make something out of nothing, as the teaching ‘ex-nihilo’ teaches us.  We may think that our sufferings and wounds are nothing.  But God doesn’t.  Not when it is offered in love.  This is what we must take with us in our meditation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, followed very theologically by the Immaculate Heart of Mary, where her heart was purely focused on the love that God had for her, and for humanity.

I do not like the fact that I have a wound in my chest.  It inhibits my movement, and it causes me to be unable to exercise as I used to.  I cannot swim, I cannot run, I can’t even go for brisk walks as any perspiration seeping into the gap between the tube and my open wound would be an open invitation for a bacteria party, causing all sorts of infections.  As a result, my muscle mass has begun to waste away, and I am pretty much out of shape.  It’s a blow to someone like me who has been an avid exerciser and loved to keep fit.  But I have also come to see that it is this very wound that has kept me alive through the arduous chemotherapy sessions these many months.  I need to be thankful for this wound that I have, as it is literally my lifeline.

Perhaps you, the reader, may have some wounds of your own and have prayed for God to take them away.  If he has allowed you to live up to now with these wounds, perhaps it is in a very hidden way, your lifeline to God through holy acceptance, difficult though it may be.  Sometimes we think that our prayer life should consist in eradicating all of our hurts and wounds in life.  Jesus did not make that the aim of his life.  Should we not learn from this too?


  1. I hope you can get over the physical and spiritual mountain you are facing. I used to be proud of my physical state, but was humbled in my recovery from a horrific road accident in 2011. I endured 4 major and 3 minor operations and 4 long months in a hospital bed. Plus more than a year of learning to walk again.

    The low moments were the hardest to get over.

    I came to the realisation, eventually, that I used to be on an unsustainable path and in much need for a correction. The accident provided me with the opportunity to review everything, and set myself up for the real recovery - not just my physical injuries - but my relationships with everyone and everything.

    Was it divine intervention? I am a remade man now. I no longer smoke and I am, ironically, healthier now than I had been before the accident. I think it was.

    May you live long and prosper too.

  2. Dear Father Luke
    Thank you for your post and photo. It gave me a chance to 'visit' and see how you're doing as I'm not sure if visitors are allowed. Especially during your treatment period for fear of infection. It's always uplifting for me to read your reflection as God always have a message for me. You're His shepherd in looking after His flock who may be lost amidst hurts, woundedness and a shallow faith. One who has been hurt at the confessional and could not bring herself to confession again!

    May God bless you and grant your intentions Father Luke. May God bless your family and caregivers with grace and strength to care for you. Keeping you in my daily prayers.


  3. Dear Fr Luke,

    Thank you for your post. God truly works in the most wonderful ways! Praise be to God!

    I have recently returned from a retreat and unlike other retreats which i've been to, instead of feeling refreshed and revitalized, I felt very much burdened. Reason being that it was during the retreat when I have discovered that the wound i thought i have received healing is still very raw. I started questioning how much have I truly surrendered to God and whether the "healing" i though i have received was nothing but just mere pride on my part. In one of the meditation session, I've seen myself handing over all the broken pieces to our Lord Jesus but yet I did not feel any better after that prayer session... and I have been wondering why.

    After reading your post, it struck me that perhaps i should bring the wound to prayer without the fixation of seeking healing...but rather, to contemplate on how the Lord is using this wound, this journey of "liv(ing) out the pains of true committed marital love despite a seemingly loveless marriage" to draw me even closer to him... to enable me to do His work...

    Thank you Fr. Luke for being such a prayerful priest and being docile to the Spirit and constantly availing yourself to mediate God's love and mercy to His people.

    Keeping you in prayer.

  4. May God heal you Fr Luke,your words of wisdom is the guiding force toward 'The Triune God' for all of us.Amen!!!:)

  5. Great to see you Fr Luke! Through your wounds, I have looked forward to Mondays on your postings! I have shared it on facebook with my sec 2 teens. Repetition is the first law of learning and I pray and believe that even if one of them opens up your blog and read, one heart is being touched. Love and God Bless!

  6. Dear Fr Luke,

    Thank you for your beautiful writings and sharings. Honestly I cant imagine what you are going thru but having journeyed with other people with serious illnesses, I can see the value of suffering especially thru your eyes. You wont remember me but I was the secretary at Novena church years back when you were a young man searching for direction. You have grown into a wonderful, holy man, constantly searching to do God's will. Young people today need mentors like you. So I will continue to pray that God will heal you and give you back to us.

    I have been truly touched by many points in your latest sharing, so thank you. God bless you and watch over you closely. I praise God for you.
    Love and Peace, mb

  7. "I cannot swim, I cannot run." Yet you remain thankful and faithful to God. Thank you for sharing this journey with us and uplifting us while you still lie in bed.
    Much love, Matthew and Melanie Phua from OLPS. (we were participants in one of your ME weekends).

  8. As FAITH strongly lives in you whenever I read your blog and glad that you overcome it even you are tested and tempted but never give up your FAITH in GOD.

    As my friend said FAITH stands for Forwarding All Issues To Heaven.

    God's strength continues to be with you always

  9. “..........I need to be thankful for this wound that I have, as it is literally my lifeline.......”

    I tend to agree with that for sometimes, it is through these very wounds that we are ‘healed’. Though each of us is unique in our own way, there are some experiences that as human beings we share in common – such as the inevitability of death and the ability to love ( even if it is only love of self). Love wounds and causes suffering . Yet, strangely enough, it is through the power of love that God transforms and heals the wounds of love.

    In a recent posting on FB, I was quite taken by what Pope Francis said, “ ..... the mercy of Jesus is not just a sentiment, but a force that gives life.......” and I was ruminating on what this ‘force’ could be when we were told last night at our Bible sharing to read Luke 7:36-8:3, to prepare for this Sunday. I realized that this was what Divine Forgiveness could could release this force/ the power of love and transform the woman ( the town’s sinner) into a totally different person. No longer bowed down by shame of her past/ her sins, she dared to take a place amongst all Simon the Pharisee’s guests and lovingly ministered to Jesus- giving Him the attention befitting of an honoured guest ( which Simon had with-held) Thus, this force or the power of love is life-giving!

    So it would seem that, sometimes ,it is through our wounds and woundedness that God uses to ‘show’ us to ourselves and thence recognizing ourselves and owning our own weaknesses, we would be more ready to be compassionate to others, opening ourselves to transformation (metanoia?).........that’s how He gives us a new heart!

    Thank you for a beautiful sharing. God bless you, Fr


  10. Good post, Fr. Luke. Thank you. Especially that part about our wounds being a lifeline to God through holy acceptance. Brilliant.

    There is another kind of wound, or woundedness that I see (all too often) around . And that is the pain of watching someone you love, suffer so horribly. I know a friend who, for quite some time now, has had to watch his wife slowly waste away; having lost most of her motor functions, and now her mental faculties as well. She was someone who was so full of life: no one could have predicted it would come to this.

    I cannot imagine the pain he's going through. Sometimes I think the pain is as great as , if not more than, the pain endured by the afflicted person. I think then, of our Blessed Mother, watching her only Son, at the hands of His torturers, and then look on while He withered away and died upon the Cross. Tell me, what greater pain is there than that? I cannot even imagine.

    God love you,

  11. Hi Fr Luke I have been readin yr blog regularly n have gained much insight n strength,More than you can imagine. I am undergoing a 8 cycle chemo treatment for breast cancer .. round 2 .. relapse after 8 years. Your insight has been such great source of "sweetness" when we began to see suffering not as the world sees it but as God would it makes it worthwhile. You truly are a gift to us Fr Luke. Always united in prayer