Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vulnera Christi: The wound to the left hand

When wounded sore, the stricken heart
lies bleeding and unbound,
one only hand, a piercèd hand,
can salve the sinner's wound.

Cecil Francis Alexander

We see that it is the right-hand that is regarded as the "best" hand in Scripture. Even in the Middle East today, the left hand is seen as a hand of baser uses and the right hand as the more socially acceptable.

Where does this leave left-handers, the sinister people?

This is a clear discrimination is it not? For one hand to be preferred to the other, if one is indeed naturally left-handed, this is a big sleight on one's existence.

For most people in the majority of cases, one hand is clearly more suited to certain tasks than the other and yet both hands are clearly valued. There is discrimination, but that discrimination comes from an ontological statement rather than a conscious decision. Discrimination is not a bad thing in itself. It is the means to getting things done well by the judicious selection  of what is most appropriate for the task.

However, there is a discrimination that raises the means above the ends. To say that the left hand is inferior because the right hand does all the writing is clearly foolish. To say that the rich are more important just because they are rich fails to recognise the intrinsic worth of each human being.

Our Lord is crucified because He has challenged those who have raised the means of devotion to God far above the end of being actually devoted to God. The Pharisees have discriminated unfairly against those who are incapable of being a Pharisee on the grounds of intelligence, wealth, upbringing and shibboleth. Theirs is a discrimination of worth which ignores the substantial commonality that all human beings share just by being human.

As his left hand is affixed to the cross, so Christ gives Himself for each and every human being irrespective of their persons. Salvation is to be denied no-one. His right-hand is nailed for the Jew, His left for the Gentile; His right for the Rich, His left for the Poor; His right for the Man, his left for the Woman - different hands, different roles, but ALL humanity.

In His complete offering of Himself, Our Lord offers us a way of repenting of discrimination of intrinsic worth. He offers us the opportunity of looking into the eyes of the person with like the least, even loathe, and to recognise within that person the same being that we ourselves have, to recognise that we are the same, from the same earth, with the same mould, with the same unutterable worth in the love of God.

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