Russ Breault writes:
While not specifically referencing the Shroud, Pope Francis specifically relates the wounds of Christ (clearly seen on the Shroud) with works of mercy for the sick, poor and needy. Perhaps this understanding elevates the significance and importance of the Shroud for those doing the work of ministry. It was the subject of his sermon today, July 3rd.
Indeed! and so, via Vatican Radio, here is a summary of the Pope at Mass, July 3, 2013:
To meet the living God we must tenderly kiss the wounds of Jesus in our hungry, poor, sick, imprisoned brothers and sisters. Study, meditation and mortification are not enough to bring us to encounter the living Christ. Like St. Thomas, our life will only be changed when we touch Christ’s wounds present in the poor, sick and needy. This was the lesson drawn by Pope Francis during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta Wednesday as he marked the Feast of St. Thomas Apostle.
Jesus after the Resurrection, appears to the apostles, but Thomas is not there: "He wanted him to wait a week – said Pope Francis – The Lord knows why he does such things. And he gives the time he believes best for each of us. He gave Thomas a week. " Jesus reveals himself with his wounds: "His whole body was clean, beautiful, full of light – said the Pope – but the wounds were and are still there" and when the Lord comes at the end of the world, "we will see His wounds". In order to believe Thomas wanted to put his fingers in the wounds.
"He was stubborn. But the Lord wanted exactly that, a stubborn person to make us understand something greater. Thomas saw the Lord, was invited to put his finger into the wounds left by the nails; to put his hand in His side and he did not say, ‘It’s true: the Lord is risen’. No! He went further. He said: ‘God’. The first of the disciples who makes the confession of the divinity of Christ after the Resurrection. And he worshiped Him”.
"And so – continued the Pope – we understand what the Lord’s intention was when he made him wait: he wanted to guide his disbelief, not to an affirmation of the Resurrection, but an affirmation of His Divinity." The "path to our encounter with Jesus-God – he said – are his wounds. There is no other”.
"In the history of the Church there have been some mistakes made on the path towards God. Some have believed that the Living God, the God of Christians can be found on the path of meditation, indeed that we can reach higher through meditation. That’s dangerous! How many are lost on that path, never to return. Yes perhaps they arrive at knowledge of God, but not of Jesus Christ, Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity. They do not arrive at that. It is the path of the Gnostics, no? They are good, they work, but it is not the right path. It’s very complicated and does not lead to a safe harbor. "
"Others – the Pope said – thought that to arrive at God we must mortify ourselves, we have to be austere and have chosen the path of penance: only penance and fasting. Not even these arrive at the Living God, Jesus Christ. They are the pelagians, who believe that they can arrive by their own efforts. " But Jesus tells us that the path to encountering Him is to find His wounds:
"We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to our body – the body – the soul too, but – I stress – the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked because it is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he’s in jail because he is in the hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards Him, but through these His wounds. ‘Oh, great! Let’s set up a foundation to help everyone and do so many good things to help ‘. That’s important, but if we remain on this level, we will only be philanthropic. We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally. Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed. "
Pope Francis concluded that we do not need to go on a “refresher course” to touch the living God, but to enter into the wounds of Jesus, and for this "all we have to do is go out onto the street. Let us ask St. Thomas for the grace to have the courage to enter into the wounds of Jesus with tenderness and thus we will certainly have the grace to worship the living God. "