Friday, April 22, 2011

"Examine My Hands" Good Friday Meditation

Writing in the "With Bible" magazine a Religious sister recalls her visit to a convent with a deaf person, during which they attended a Mass. She watched carefully as a sister at the front of the church passed along to the hard of hearing the words of the Mass and what was occurring on the altar, using not only her hands but her body to communicate. She wondered if there was any more beautiful way of giving praise than the soft and easy movements of the hands to form words, and the singing responses in sign language. It was, she said, like heat waves of life dancing in the air on a spring day.

For many centuries, artists have used the 14 stations of the cross as subjects for their art. She mentions a modern day rendition that appears in one of the churches in Seoul: the stations are depicted solely by the different positions of the 'hands of Jesus' carved in relief.

The hands are in different sizes, positions, textures and in a variety of frames.Each one separately can be seen as a unique masterpiece: hands supporting the cross, perplexed hands on the ground, violent hands grabbing the clothing, spastic  hands receiving the nails, entrusting hands after death. There is no extravagance in the expression of pain and anguish. Instead, the artistic description follows the  laws of the medium and is restrained in expression. Standing before the station, one is not overcome by the suffering  and extreme sadness but what is seen elicits repentance and regret. The form has been refined so it is not the emotions that are moved but one is still left with the meaning.

Jesus used his hands often in his ministry: Touching the lepers, blessing the children, holding simple food in his hands, washing the feet of his disciples, and finally stretching his hands out on the cross, and, after death, showing his hands to his disciples so they would know he was the one that walked with them before death.

The sister reflects on where the hands of Jesus might be found today. Haven't they been bequeathed through the Church to  us? she asks. They are a poor replacement, she admits,  but we, as Church, are his tools--weak and deficient as we may be. "My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection" (II Cor. 12:9). She ends her article by reminding us that it is all grace.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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