In 1980, a statue at Christ the King Church in San Diego was damaged by vandals, and the hands were broken off from the arms of Christ. When repairing the statue, the community decided not to reattach the hands and instead placed a plaque at the base of the statue which read: “I have no hands but yours.” The quote is attributed to St. Teresa of Avila.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus sets apart twelve of his disciples and calls them by a new name: apostles. Like the characters of the Hebrew Scriptures who experienced a similar thing, these apostles were sent out to continue the ministry that Jesus had begun. He directs them to drive out unclean spirits, cure every disease and announce God’s reign. They will be the hands, the feet, and the voice of Jesus.
The apostles will do this regardless of their skill set or their past. Some of the disciples were fishermen, hardly trained to go out and preach a Gospel message. One is a tax collector, despised by his community. Yet they will be instruments of God’s work, just as Joseph, in today’s first reading, becomes an instrument of God’s saving power. Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers, went on to become the most trusted advisor to the Pharaoh in Egypt. Joseph had planned for the famine and provided a means for people in Egypt and the surrounding area to have grain at a desperate time.
“I have no hands but yours.” This is what Christ says to us as well. Like the Apostles, we are called to be his hands, his feet, and his voice in the world. Like the Apostles and Joseph, we may have little or no training, we may have a troubled past, and we may have suffered at the hands of others. Nevertheless, God can use us to be his hands in the world.
As we celebrate the Eucharist, may Christ’s body and blood transform us and provide us the strength and wisdom to share Christ with the world.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator