Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Work of My Hands

December 2, 2011

Friday of the First Week of Advent

By Melanie Rigney

When (the children of the House of Jacob) see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel. (Isaiah 29:23)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? (Psalm 27:1)

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, "Son of David, have pity on us!" When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I can do this?" "Yes, Lord," they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, "Let it be done for you according to your faith." And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, "See that no one knows about this." But they went out and spread word of him through all that land. (Matthew 9:27-31)


We will work with each other, we will work side by side/We will work with each other, we will work side by side/And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride/And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love/Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love. (Peter Scholtes)


Passages like today’s Gospel reading sometimes give us pause. Why didn’t Jesus want those he helped to run around and tell people, to spread the Good News?

Some experts will tell you it was because Jesus knew it wasn’t time yet for his ministry on earth to draw to a close with his crucifixion. Others explain that he knew he would have been regarded as a magician or sorcerer, that people didn’t understand the source of his powers. Or maybe, it was his way of showing us how we should do good in his name—by doing good, and not necessarily shouting God’s name from the rooftops when we do it.

The reading is in line with the advice often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” So often when we find people in physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental need, what we should do is obvious: Feed them. Clothe them. Bind up their wounds, or take them to someone who can. Listen. Laugh with them. Cry with them.

People who are suffering aren’t always in a place to hear about the wonders God has worked in similar situation in our lives or the lives of people we know. Their immediate concern, for them as with the blind men Jesus encountered, is getting help. If we meet them where they are and do what we can, we don’t have to say we’re doing it in the Lord’s name. The more we lovingly tend to their needs, the sooner they’ll be ready to ask why we do what we do, and the better the chance that the seeds we sow will take root, and the better the chance, as the song says, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.


Spend some time during Advent at a homeless shelter, food pantry, or other service in which you’ll encounter people in need. Pray with today’s Gospel before you provide assistance begins, and think about how you’ll show rather than tell people in whose name you serve.