My latest article published in Give Us This Day, by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN.
Stretch Out Your Hand
One of my first funerals as a priest was for an elderly woman who from birth had lived with a clenched fist. Her family told me that at her death, the muscles in her hand completely relaxed. They wept when they realized their mother was open and at ease when Jesus welcomed her home. They told me they believed her heart had done the same. I remember glancing in the casket at the wake to see her open hand.
As believers in Christ Jesus, we may be restored in many ways. Much like when Jesus healed people on the sabbath, faith opens our hearts even beyond the restrictions of tradition. In Jesus, new life abounds after our hearts wither from divorce or alcoholism. Only with faith can we open selfishly clenched fists. Only with faith can we open our hands after finger pointing and blaming a stranger on the street for not having a job. Open hands receive and offer love.
In Luke’s Gospel especially, Jesus lifts up those who are bowed down by poverty and loss. He stretches his love beyond the law. The Gospel is living and active, opening our hearts to Jesus’ redemption in our own lives. Our hands and hearts open wide to hold the mystery of love, no matter the weight of law.
Openness comes only after an encounter with divine forgiveness and acceptance. Openness comes from the generosity of redemption.
With open hands, I pray for all who ache to hold such a mystery.
Fr. Ronald Raab, CSC