In the movie “Jaws” there is a scene aboard Quint’s boat, the Orca, in which Quint and Hooper, over a few drinks, are comparing their various scars while awaiting their next encounter with the Great White. Chief Brody, for the moment enjoys the comic game of one-upmanship between the two men of the sea as a respite from their dangerous mission. Each scar is accompanied by a story. And isn’t that true of us all.
While playing with friends, as a young boy, I lost my balance and fell. Not too unusual for those who are young and rambunctious. Yet unusual in that I wore leg braces and crutches as a result of polio. As I fell I was unable to free myself from my crutch which supported me at the forearm. With the crutch tip wedged in the ground and upright I dangled briefly, but long enough for the edge of the metal forearm support to gouge into my flesh. The mishap did not require a hospital emergency room visit. When ice along with Mercurochrome and a bandage suffices, there is no need for such attention. After the wound had healed I was left with a scar that is visible to this day. And as was the case with Quint and Hooper, I was left with a story to tell. I must rightly say, if the scar no longer existed neither would this tale.
Scars confirm that a healing process has that taken place. Scars can result from a number of intentional or unintentional incidents, but are not limited to the physical. Hearts, minds and souls can be wounded as well. These wound types cannot be seen by the naked eye, but none the less are in need of healing. And will also leave behind scars with stories that are often as well guarded as that of a good poker hand.
Scar tissue often remains visible, although healing is complete, as evidence to a significant trauma occurrence. The body possesses the ability to heal some wounds without outside intervention. Antibodies fight infections as blood cells join to seal the wound. Again, we can recall certain injuries because scar tissue remains to remind us. However, memory of the events that had caused minor cuts, bruises and abrasions will eventually fade, as do their fully healed scars.
Forgiveness is the healing process of interior wounds; of heart, mind and soul. And as it is true of the body; the heart, mind and soul can, too, be wounded by others or ourselves. Residual scar tissue can be as evident here as it is with the body. The presence of this particular scar tissue is validated by an imbalance or discord in our natures. We just may not seem like ourselves; resembling someone who is ill or injured. Negative effects on the unseen self are as real as those of the seen. Forgiveness, given or received, heals. Scar tissue of this sort will remain only if we choose to follow our inclination to hold the offensive wound inflicted upon us against others or ourselves.
“But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we are healed.”-Isaiah 53: 5
Christ, after His resurrection, still possessed the scars of crucifixion. The same scars demanded to be seen by Thomas to convince him from his doubt. Christ’s scars represent a healing of monumental proportion as proof that forgiveness powered by love heals all wounds; even that of the entire world. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen points to another valuable purpose in those visible scars of Christ when he says: “Christ will intercede for us in seeking God’s mercy by showing God His scars and saying; see how much I love them.”
God’s forgiveness is like a vast ocean. Can anyone retrieve the same water from a cup after pouring it into the ocean. Of course not. That is what God’s forgiveness is like. And in being irretrievable our trespass is not just forgiven but also forgotten.
Man’s capacity to forgive when compared to God’s is not vast but minute. The scars that often remain are a testament to the not a yet completed quest of perfecting ourselves in His will. No matter the effort made, one cannot forget completely; especially when the offense carried out cuts deep. But, God does give us the ability to make it seem as though we have forgotten such grievous acts against us. That ability is in our choosing. Our choosing to stay our hand, sheath our sword and bite our tongue. It is a difficult choice because it is the right choice. A choice that stems from a selfless act of the will. An act that counters ill will with good will. The same act of will that not only allowed Christ to withstand the demands of the cross, but to embrace them triumphantly. Each of us can choose not to continually hold a harm done to us over the head of the one we say we have forgiven. And both parties will be the better for it. For, often, the shoe is found on the other foot.
When we stand before God, in the only just judgement of our lives, He will notice any remaining scar tissue, which is seen by Him as an imperfection. But may, by His divine mercy, not hold it against us. This is possible, because even though God knows that we have sinned against another, He will take into account that the one we have offended has, also, chosen not to hold it against us.
The measure of mercy that we show to others will be in like measure shown to us .