When I reflect on the readings for each day, sometimes one word will stand out. We have a long gospel reading for Mark. And the word I noticed was ‘hand’. It is in the reading ten times. I thought maybe we should reflect on the word ‘hand’ today for Palm Sunday, the Passion of Our Lord.
Before I continue, please take one minute, and look at your hands. Our hands are special. We use our hands to show love, but they can also show anger. Some hands are calloused, others are soft. Little children’s hands are pudgy, an older person’s hands are gnarled and deformed with arthritis. This made me think of the hands of Jesus. I also thought of the hands that arrested and scourged Jesus. As I read through the Passion, I noticed the hands of the individuals.
The first is: “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them.” Judas must have had claw like hands from clutching their money bag. Hands that he would have kept hidden. The next verse, “Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.” Judas’ heart must have turned to stone. I picture his hands now clenched into fists, ready to strike out at anyone.
Jesus has gone to the garden to pray. He has asked his friends to stay awake and pray. They fall asleep. Jesus comes back and awakens then saying, “See, my betrayer is at hand.” The hands of the people coming to arrest Jesus would have held swords and clubs and chains. Dirty hands with the stain of much bloodshed. Angry hands that would not show any kindness. And then, “At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.” How our Jesus would have been handled roughly. Struck repeatedly. The God who loves all mankind now struck with anger and hate from the people He made. Hands can cause so much humiliation.
Jesus’ accusers stand before Him. The accusation: He said, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.’ It took forty-six years to make this temple and you will rebuild in three days? This is the God that spoke the word and the universe was made. Instantly! We see things only from our own perspective, our own understanding. The spiritual hands that Jesus speaks, what would they look like? What do God’s hands look like? After all He made you and me. Hands filled with love and forgiveness and mercy.
Jesus claims His Kingdom when He says, “. . . you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” What would it be like to sit at the right hand of God? Can we even imagine?
Three times now, Jesus will be handed over, discarded, unwanted, unloved. “They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. . . . the chief priests had handed him over . . . . after he had Jesus scourged, (Pilate) handed him over to be crucified.” What is it like to be cast away? What is it like not to be loved? What is it like to have your friends desert you? No one lifted a hand to help the Lord. What is it like? It is like having nails pounded into your hands and feet.
Pause for a moment. Reflect on the Passion of Christ. If you were present at the crucifixion, what would your hands be doing?
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen