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Bringing Our Faith to Life
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

Putting Faith Into Action
Not Always in Profound Ways
For Teens: Putting Your Hands to Work for Others
For Kids: What Can You Do With Your Hands?

Since I began writing this column a few years ago, I have continually been amazed at how situations present themselves to provide me with inspiration at the precise moment I’m struggling to write a certain column. It happened again recently when I attended a funeral service for a family friend who died of cancer.

In his homily, the priest told the story of a statue of Jesus in a German cathedral during World War II that had its arms blown off in a bombing. As this version of the story goes, some GIs came across the statue and attached a sign to it saying, “Christ has no hands but yours.”

I found another version of the story, however, that says that after the war some students were rebuilding the cathedral in which the statue stood. They decided not to reattach the statue’s hands, but instead hung a sign with these words on the statue.

Regardless of which version is accurate, however, the message of the story is still a profound one. As Christians and Catholics, it is our job to be Christ’s hands.

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Putting Faith Into Action

As I sat listening to the priest tell the story, I couldn’t help but think of my mom. She and another friend would take their sick friend for her radiation and chemotherapy treatments, to doctor’s appointments, to lunch or to a movie for a diversion. Toward the end, they would go to the hospital just to be there. For me, their actions put flesh on the line in Matthew’s Gospel, I was “ill and you cared for me” (25:36).

The message that our faith is something to be lived out and shared with others is pretty clear. The Bible is filled with stories of reaching out to others, such as the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), the call to be light for all the world (Matthew 5:13-16) or the reminder that “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). And the list goes on.

Not Always in Profound Ways

There are lots of opportunities for us to serve as God’s hands. This month, make an effort to seek out those opportunities. Here are a few suggestions:

Be on the lookout for opportunities to serve. Every week, our parish bulletin is filled with announcements about various activities and community outreach programs that are taking place to help others. Find a group or activity that suits you and volunteer.

Don’t sell yourself short. Even the smallest acts of love and kindness make a difference. I’ll be honest; I don’t know that I could care for a friend dying of cancer as I’ve seen my mom do. But I do care for my kids when they’re sick. Both acts of love are important.

Or, if you don’t feel comfortable serving dinner at the local homeless shelter, offer to work in your parish’s food pantry, make a dish for someone else to take to the shelter or simply donate food items.

Become aware of what you’re already doing. Even though my husband’s grandmother is in a nursing home, my mother-in-law still visits her twice a week, does her laundry, accompanies her to doctor’s appointments and performs a myriad of other services. I’m sure my mother-in-law wouldn’t describe herself as serving as God’s hands in those tasks, but she is.

Give yourself a reminder. With our busy schedules and hectic lives, it’s easy to say, “I don’t have time to do such and such.” Sometimes we can use a good reminder that it’s not all about us, and we are called to act in Jesus’ name. The Bible is a good place to start. Read over some of the passages in the Bible that call us to action, such as Matthew 5:13-16, John 15:13 or Luke 10:29-37.        

Next Month: Celebrating New Life

 

For Teens: Putting Your Hands to Work for Others

How many times have you heard someone say, “If I only had another pair of hands?” Well, why not try being that extra set of hands for someone?

Gather some of your friends and volunteer to use your hands to help someone out. Some ways in which you can help are: Offer to paint a room, clean up the yard, shovel the walk when it snows, take someone to the store or do the grocery shopping for him or her, or offer to babysit for someone while he or she runs some errands or takes some time off.

 

For Kids: What Can You Do With Your Hands?

What types of things do you use your hands for every day? For one day, be aware of all the things for which you use your hands, such as petting a dog, clapping or making a snowball. Make a list of all those things you discover and then share it with your family. Ask them if they can think of any additions that can be made to the list.

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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