The Nails: A reflection for Good Friday
Here we’re seeing an image of three nails. They are probably not that dissimilar in size to the ones that were used to crucify Jesus. The thought of that in itself is rather gruesome, and maybe some of us can bring to mind artwork or images depicting these nails and the wounds they caused.
Here, I would like us to briefly reflect on two thoughts, which are basically different sides of the same coin. For this I would like you to imagine holding one of these nails and feeling its weight. As we feel it’s weight and maybe it’s sharp point, the first thing I suggest to reflect on is the wounds we have sustained ourselves over time. Most of us will have at least one physical scar somewhere and a story to go with it.
As we bring those to mind, we realise that this is necessarily a story just of pain, but looking back, maybe also of something good we have done, or something we may have achieved or learnt through it. At the time, when the scar was still a wound, it hurt, but often, when time has passed, the pain has gone and it has become a mark, not just of past pain, but of something more significant.
So it is too for the other wounds we have sustained over the course of our lives, the ones we don’t see or don’t leave a physical scar. They also have left their mark; they may still itch or hurt at times, but they have become part of our story, part of who we are. They haven’t made us more beautiful or perfect, far from it, but they are signs of the journey we have made and the people we have become.
That brings us to the flip side of this story, and so we are also bidden to think, maybe especially on this Good Friday, on the wounds we ourselves have inflicted. The times we have caused someone else to stumble or fall, or the times when we have outright wounded one another by what we have said or what we have done. These wounds we have caused are not dissimilar from the wounds inflicted on Jesus when he was nailed to the cross.
In the Easter liturgy, when the Paschal candle is blest, Jesus’ wounds are sometimes referred to as ‘holy’ and ‘glorious’, but it is hard to think of it this way when we bring to mind the pain we have inflicted on others, and by this the pain we have inflicted on God.
However, it is precisely here that lies our hope, the hope of the Christian faith. Whereas for human beings wounds transform into scars, sometimes remaining painful and raw, for Jesus, the wounds became marks of new life when he told his disciples to see them and to touch them.
As we imagine once more the weight of the nail in our hand; as we feel the burden of our own scars and the pain of those we have inflicted on others, we know that we can only bear this knowing that Christ bore that pain himself and that he transformed it into something that we only can trust now, but will one day see in all its fullness.
So, on this Good Friday, as we stand at the foot of the Cross, we are invited to put down our nails. We know that we cannot undo what we have done, but we can commit ourselves to trying to do so again. To stop hurting ourselves and others, and to lay down at the foot of the Cross our nails and with it our pain and fragility.