Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042820.cfm
Perhaps because I’ve been washing my hands so often these days, was I struck by the fact that in both readings today, we hear about the ‘hand of God’. In the first reading, we’re told that the ‘hand of the Lord’ was with Barnabas and Paul in Antioch when the word of God was spreading not only to the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well. The number of converts there was growing rapidly, so God's hand was surely guiding this massive expansion of followers.
In the Gospel, we hear Jesus telling the unbelieving Jews that they are not part of his flock of sheep. He says: “My Sheep hear my voice….No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand." Here God's hands are shown to be protecting, caring and serving the flock.
This image of God's hand was very meaningful for the scripture writers and is mentioned 94 times in the Old and New Testaments. For example:
- Psalm 63:8: ‘My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.’
- Isaiah 49:16: "I have carved you in the palm of my hand."
- Ezechial 37:1: "The hand of the Lord was upon me."
And we believe that God has the ‘whole world in his hands’, as that catchy song says, holding it and directing it according to God’s plan.
Obviously, the image of God’s hand is symbolic, meaning power and compassion, strength and tenderness. God's hand has a wonderful ability to do any and all things, in any and all times.
What does it mean for us to be in "God's hand?"
- It means we too can be powerful and loving instruments in the hands of God, bringing about great works like Barnabas and the other disciples.
- It means utter dependency on God, like sheep are with their Shepherd.
- It means believing that God's gracious care will protect us, hold us, and preserve us through all things, even during these troubling times.
We know it is easy to see God when all is going well, but when hard times come, do we hear God say: 'my right hand will hold you?" Do we act like God not only has the whole world in his hands, but he has each one of us right there carved in his palm? Today let us faithfully walk with God and confidently hold His hand.