Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” It’s an aggressive instruction. The word for “put,” as elsewhere in this passage, can mean throwing, thrusting, plunging—the same root as for the English word “ballistics.”
Thomas boasted that he would not be as credulous as his apostolic colleagues: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Jesus not so gently calls Thomas’s bluff, as if to say: “Oh, you’ll not believe until you get the real dirt? Well, here it is! Behold my wounds, and dive in!” We’re not told whether Thomas accepts Jesus’ offer, but Jesus observes Thomas came to believe only because he saw, so we might reasonably infer that Thomas backed off, afraid to touch Jesus.
Life is messy. Mothers know that better than anyone: the straining and stretching as pregnancy proceeds, the pains and bodily fluids of childbirth, the marks on the body and the milk, the dirty diapers, vomit, spilled food, and more. Even for those of us who are not mothers, simply being around them may well be our most vivid experience of the messiness of life.
We may be tempted to hold ourselves aloof, to stay away, so that we don’t have to smell the odors, or worse, feel obliged to help change diapers. We may be tempted to roll our eyes when the children next door misbehave; and to think of ourselves as heroes simply because we remain silent about our complaints.
But true heroism is diving into the mess. Jesus invited Thomas to dive into his wounds—to touch and feel and be a part of the mess—in order to know that Jesus had risen from the dead. If we’re going to acknowledge and accept the gift of new life in our community, we need to do likewise for the mothers and children around us.
We need to remember that the real heroes of the pro-life movement are not people like me, who write the occasional article, nor the social media warriors or the political posturers, but those who do the messy work:
- the mothers themselves, of course;
- the families, friends, and neighbors who aid them;
- the sonogram techs and medical staff who offer hope and care;
- the volunteers who pack food and childcare goods for mothers in need;
- those who supervise and clean special homes in support or protection of mothers;
- the witnesses who pray gently outside abortion clinics, humbly enduring humiliations;
- the lawyers and legislators who undertake the difficult task of finding achievable gains in law and jurisprudence.
It is frequently hard, rarely glamorous enough to make headlines, and often goes unrewarded and unrecognized. But as the wounds of the Lord Jesus are a sign of our salvation, the messy work we embrace here is a sign of our progress in building a culture of life—and a civilization of love.