Then the Lord said: “Behold a place near me. You shall stand upon the rock: when my glory passes I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand and you will see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” (Ex 33: 21-23)
Lord, how many times I offered up Moses’ prayer: “Show me Your Glory!” and I heard the same answer: “No man can see me and remain alive!” Thinking clearly, I realized that I too, like the great patriarch, have often experienced the touch of your hand without seeing you. When I was in my mother’s womb, I still could not see, could not speak, I heard sounds without understanding them, but I perceived the kindness of a hand placed on my mother’s womb. During the first months of life, love came to me primarily through hands: what joy and peace caresses and hugs could bring to me! How many tears when a friendly hand was taken away to help another! My crib seemed so cold, nothing was better than a hand to bring me back to the warmth of my mother’s womb! Maybe Jesus when you warned us: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter into it” (Mk 10:15) you wanted to push us to develop a child-like sensitivity to the touch of your hand in our life! Who knows how many times your hand reaches me and I remain indifferent! Perhaps to you it seems like touching a piece of marble, without reactions and sensitivity! Excuse my coldness!
Today however I want to thank you for all those times that I recognized your hand in my life. I remember well that I felt your Fatherly hand that held me up and led me to safety. Truly, like David, I can say “in your hand is power and might, from your hand comes every greatness and strength” (1 Chr 29:12). You took my life, with your hand you transformed it and worked marvels! How many relationships you weaved together, how many providential meetings carried out to a good end! How many people you put on my path who taught me how to live! Thank you especially for my vocation. It was a masterpiece that you created! I thank you for you strong hand which has sustained me and thrown me into the world, molding my fragile life so that I could testify to your love!
Many times, God, you caressed me like only a mother knows how! I felt special because of the tenderness you had for me! I rejoiced because of your delicate touch! I thank you especially for the words of encouragement that you spoke to me at just the right moment. They came to me in the words of a song; I read them in the Bible; or I found them on a flyer near the entrance of the Church. Other times they were said by the priest during Mass, Confession, or a homily. They came into my ears, but they settled inside me as caresses for my heart.
Sometimes Lord, your hand has gone away from me, and I no longer felt your warmth and support. I prayed without finding you, I read your Word without feeling anything. I called to you, “Where are you?” You were not far off, you watched over me, but you wanted me to move a little, that I sought you with greater intensity. You wanted me to go beyond a faith that was taken for granted and mere habit.
In high school, a classmate of mine wrote on my journal this phrase: “The absence of a friend enlightens us about what we most love about Him.” So, when you take your hand away, I rediscover how much your touch is fundamental for my life. I understand that if I seek you, it’s because I love you, and looking at my story with you, I rediscover all the beauty that your hand has written. Thanks because in these precious moments, I was always surrounded by people who loved me and whose faith nourished my own shaky as it is. Their joy increased my hope and thus deep in my heart, I never stopped believing in the promise of your love. And, having passed through the night, the sun shines again, warmer and brighter than before!
Perhaps one day, when all things will be going bad, when I will feel alone and misunderstood, I will feel a hand that punishes and reproves. Even then, Lord, strengthen and preserve my faith! Make me remember in the midst of life’s storms that “all things work for the good of those who love God” (Rom 8:28). Grant me the grace to hope with all my heart and to reach the end of the trial with the wisdom of Job: “I knew you from what other said, but now my eyes see you!” (Job 42:5). I ask you this also for all the people who are going through a rough time and who perhaps are a little angry with You. Send them your angels so that they may persevere with strength and one day testify that “hope does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5).
I was thinking of your hands, Jesus, which I never saw, but which seem so familiar! You married the Church, but you where no ring: and there’s no need to! The wounds of the nails are the most impressive sign of your faithfulness. Your love will always remain impressed in your hands! The hands that touch my life are the same hands spread out on the cross for me. Thank you, Lord, because when you touch me, it is the power of Your love that envelops me. I thank you because the hands that I feel so close have conquered death and are able to give me new life!
Someone told me: “It’s not enough for love to be in the heart, it has to be in the hands !” Look at my hands, Jesus. I consecrate them to you. They are an open book, they tell of me. Remember all the good they’ve done, the help they’ve offered, and the peace they’ve given. Forgive all the times they have held back, that they refused to give themselves for the others. Excuse them for their violent intrusions into the life of their brothers and the wounds they’ve caused. Gather up and bless all the dreams of goodness they carry and the love they want to give. Thanks because every day, when I receive the Eucharist, you place your body on them so they become “the crib of the Most High!” I look again at your hands, I set my gaze on mine and from the depths of my heart I ask you, Lord, that they always know how to join themselves together in prayer, as they have today in your presence. Amen.