Hands. Look at your hands for a minute. Handy things, these hands.
In Chapter 49 of the book of the prophet Isaiah, we read this beautiful line, “See, in the palms of my hands I have written your name.”
And in Chapter 64, the prophet Isaiah proclaims, “O Lord, we are the clay and you the potter. We are all the work of your hands.“
In the New Testament, Jesus – with his hands – feeds the hungry, heals the blind, and calls his apostles. With his hands he lifts Peter out of the water. And with his outstretched hands nailed to the cross, Jesus saves us.
In the gospel today we hear about Jesus once again calling people to be his disciples. We can just picture Jesus beckoning with his hands, “Come. Come, follow me.” Jesus is also saying, “No excuses. Don’t delay. Now is the time to be my disciple. Put your hands to the plow and go straight ahead with me to the kingdom. Don’t look back.”
Some people have replied to Jesus wholeheartedly. Others weakly, or not at all. How do we know how strong our commitment is to the Lord? How do we know how well we are doing in answering the Lord’s call? The answer? Look at our hands.
Do we lend a hand to carry another’s burden?
Do we use our hands to wipe away another’s tears?
Do we use our hands to feed the poor and clothe the needy?
So we use our hands to soothe and comfort, to heal and protect?
Do we clap our hands and cheer others on, giving support to the bereaved and encouragement to the brokenhearted?
Are our hands free of bribes and any dishonesty?
Do we reach out our hands in hospitality?
Do we take a hand in government by voting and speaking out?
Do we open our hands in prayer to ask for help?
Do we lift up our hands in prayer to give thanks?
Do we use our hands to guide others to Christ?
Do we hold hands in a circle of unity and peace with your family and community?
Let us live, resolved to follow Jesus, with our hands firmly gripping that plow.
Yes, He who is almighty will do great things through us — as He did through Mary, the “handmaiden” of the Lord.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/