Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Memorial)

 

The souls of the just are in the hand of God.

 

If God had hands, what do you think they would look like?   Maybe the outstretched finger bringing forth life in Michelangelo’s famous fresco The Creation of Adam?   Maybe the strong, slightly aged hands clasped gently in prayer depicted in sixteenth-century artist Albrecht Dürer’s drawing Praying Hands?   Or perhaps the capable, calloused hands of Jesus, the skilled carpenter?

If we follow this train of thought, we are likely picturing God’s hands as very large and strong, yet also gentle.   We imagine him holding each of us with tenderness but firmness, the way a seasoned father or grandfather might grasp a little one.   In his solid but careful grasp, we are secure and at peace.

It’s no accident that the author of the Book of Wisdom used the image of God’s hands in today’s first reading (Wisdom 3:1).   He wanted to assure his readers that even though they will eventually die, God will still be with them.   We don’t know what life after death will be like, but we do know that we have a loving God who is eternally committed to us.   The image of God tenderly holding us or our loved ones can be a source of great comfort and hope.   It can bolster our faith and give us the courage to keep pressing on, even as we mourn the loss of someone dear to us.

But this great, comforting truth isn’t limited just to the hour of death.   God holds us in his strong hands every moment of our lives, from our very beginning and through all the stages and seasons of our lives.   The more we trust in this truth, the more convinced we will be that he won’t abandon us in the end.

If you have a loved one approaching death, believe that God’s hand remains on them.   Even if they are suffering, look for God’s loving touch in the care of the people who surround them.   And if you have recently lost someone dear to you, take today’s passage to heart.   Believe that God will never release them from his tender hold!

“Lord, thank you for holding me and my loved ones so firmly in your grasp.   My trust and hope are in you!”

Psalm 34:2-3, 16-19
Luke 17:7-10

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