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  • Sarah Raad

Scars

Salvation – though free – is not cheap.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (Caravaggio)

All three of my children are very rough and tumble sort of people. Most of the games that they play involve physical battles in some way or another. Those children like no game better than the ones where they are hunting each other down and trying to play-kill each other.


When they were a little younger I used to worry about this tendency to violence quite a lot, until I started investigating the psychological research on the matter. Psychologists suggest that experimental violent-play is a very important stage of childhood development and provided the children are safe and supervised, should not be prevented.


There is one drawback to this sort of play and that is that sometimes someone gets hurt. Thank God, the children are supervised so the injuries are not severe, but still there are injuries from accidents that happen as part of rough and tumble play. For example, once, when hunting down his brother as part of a game that he was playing which involved his cousins, my younger son slipped and grazed his side quite badly on the gravel driveway that he had been running on. As a result, he now has a faded scar on the left-hand side of his torso, which he calls a “life scar”. The reason he calls it a “life scar” is because he has had the scar for years now and it seems that it is unlikely that it will ever completely fade away. For this dramatic little nine-year-old creature, this “life-scar” marks him as a man and gives him a story to share with people with whom he comes into contact, when he wishes to impress them…


This is not really a terribly strange phenomenon. After all, many cultures, particularly indigenous cultures, traditionally and historically performed ritual scarring as part of the process of adulthood. Such scars were displayed with pride, in much the same way that my son displays his old “life scar” scar, as evidence of honour, nobility, integrity, and strength.


Though the vast majority of us prefer not to have scars, scars are important because we all carry them. We carry the physical scars from our injuries on our bodies, like the “life scar” of my son, but we also carry emotional, mental and spiritual scars formed from traumatic experiences ranging from the grief for the loss of loved ones, failed vocations, loneliness, regret or despair.


And what is a scar?


A scar is really just a reminder or a marker of an experience. Usually – as in the case of my children or in relation to the terrible emotional, mental or spiritual scars that so many of us carry – a scar is a reminder of something difficult or terrible that happened to us. But there are times too, when the scar was caused for the good, as it is during ritual scarring. Often people look at their scars with pride, as evidence of their strength to endure great hardship.


They are evidence of our suffering. And why does God allow this suffering?

Saint John Vianney, the Cure d’Ars, answered that question with a question of his own, which held all the answers… “What would you think of a doctor who lost his patient because he was afraid of giving him the necessary but unpleasant treatment?”

In reflecting on scars and scarring during Mass the other day, I suddenly in a blinding flash saw clearly in my mind, an image of my Beloved, scarred in His Glory in Heaven. For Christ died to save us. After He died, He rose from the dead, and on His resurrected body – He had scars….


“Then Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and look at My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:27-28).


This tells us something and it tells us something very very important… It tells us that Christ – God the Son – who had no cause to sacrifice Himself, will spend ETERNITY with scars on His Holy and Beautiful person for love of us…


God has no need of scars – for He always was and is and will be. God is unchanging… And yet, God the Son – Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity – now has scars. He allowed the person of Himself to change through LOVE FOR US – by allowing those scars to mark His most Perfect Body…


Why did He do this?


Scott Hahn answers that question in his book, “A Father who Keeps His Promises”, “Our Heavenly Father has kept each and every one of the promises He swore concerning our redemption—at the cost of His only beloved Son. Because of God’s grace, the gift of salvation is free, but it is not cheap...”


And that dear price of salvation is etched onto the Holy Sacred Person of God the Son Himself – for all eternity.


For indeed, salvation though free, is not cheap…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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