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
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.
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.
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
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