Shaking hands with God

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2017

By Fr. Jonathan J. Filkins

The very social habit of extending our hands in friendship, or at the conclusion of an agreement, has its roots in the misty darkness of many centuries ago.

While it may predate recorded history, it is first noted in Greece, during the 5th century BC, as a way of showing that no weapons were being carried. Today, the meaning has become less clear, as overuse may imply less than friendship, or that another form of weapon is within.

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Of course, we Americans have adapted to many forms of greeting each other. Whether it be a nod, or a bow; a grin, or a nose rub, each conveys the acknowledgement of the others presence. In essence. the gesture itself usually acknowledges a certain worth of the recipient and they, in kind, do likewise.

Yet, we may not always have the flexibility to be in the presence of those we would desire to have this greeting, or any other forms. The far away desire for a quick caress, or innocent kiss, only heightens our distances. Given today’s mad rush to compete and accomplish, these very human needs often go wanting. Consider our world if everyone received a warm handshake from a neighbor or friend.

Would it not be even better if we all received a sincere hug of loving assurance all around?

As believing Christians, we hold that God is present with us at all times and in every place.

It is a difficult understanding, if you will pardon the expression, to get our arms around. From the human perspective,, we are only in one place at one time. The very concept of forever, the ad infinitum of our salvation, rests only upon the Promise of our most supernatural God, as given to us by His son, Jesus Christ..

It a quite literal way, as represented by Adam on ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Florence, Italy, God is extending his hand, to us. In Michelangelo’s inspiring scene, the two are not quite touching, with Adam in repose, and God reaching towards him. Clearly, it is God who is making the strongest effort to reach him.

Consider we too are often in repose, when it come to our relationship with our Creator, and with others. We may frequently wait for the other to extend their hand first, and then receive it with a certain level of skepticism, or doubt. Such seems to be in our nature.

As we begin this Holy Week, marking the journey of the Christ to Jerusalem, truly acknowledging His suffering, for us, with His Passion, death and Resurrection, we are called to take His hand and to “follow Him.”  For His sacrifice is for us, on that cross of Golgotha. As he extended his hands there, on that tree, we are to receive Him as our own and travel the journey with Him. For, it was He who told us that we are not His servants, but His friends.

Will we not take His hand?