Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hands Touching Hands

Okay were going to begin this one with a little song... if it doesn't come to you by the Chorus click on the link to get the full effect: 

Where it began...

I can't begin to know when...

But then I know it's growing strong.

Was in the spring...

And spring became the summer...

Who'd believed you'd come along...







Now I know that when you hear this song you just can't help but reach those hands out and want to touch someone. We have this primal need to touch and be touched. Hands... touching hands.

God knows this about us. We hear it in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah. "Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp."

God takes his anointed by the hand. He does the same with us.

Earlier this week I had someone from another parish ask me about confession. She had said that she read a reflection about it on my blog and something was telling her she wanted to go to confession. But then she said to me. "I don't think I agree with confession. I think you can just go to God and he forgives your sins." So I looked at her gently and asked then "Why are you here?" She replied... "Well I've had this guilt that I've held on to for a long time, I'm even going to counseling for it, and I just can't let go of something I did." So I asked her: "Have you told God you were sorry and asked for His forgiveness." She nodded her head yes. And then with a little smirk I said... "Hmmm... looks like you tried to go 'just' to God, but you still have the guilt. I think confession would be exactly what would free you." Why? Why do we 'need' to go to confession? Well this is why... HANDS... TOUCHING HANDS... REACHING OUT... TOUCHING YOU.... God wants to touch you in the sacraments! How much do we long for God to be real to us? How much do we wish he could really reach out and take us by the hands? Well He does, and He does so in and through the sacraments.

Think about it. Every sacrament involves HANDS... TOUCHING YOU.

BAPTISM: In the introductory rites the priest or deacon traces the sign of cross on the baby's forehead and then invites the parents and the God parents to do the same. The very first moment of the first sacrament involves touch... by the minister and by the parents and God parents.

CONFESSION: In the sacrament of confession the priest extends his hands over the penitent, laying them on their head while speaking the words of absolution... "I absolve you from your sins."

Communion: At every Eucharist there is literally a part where we turn towards each other and take one another's hands - Hands, reaching out, touching hands. At the sign of peace the priest invites the Gathered Assembly (which is one of the four primary ways that God is present in the Eucharist - the others being the Word, Eucharist, and the Priest) to offer each other the sign of peace: a handshake, an embrace, a kiss. This is God touching you through His body... the Body of Christ.... in the Gathered Assembly.

MARRIAGE: At the beginning of the actual Rite of Marriage the priest or deacon invites the man and woman to turn towards each other "join their right hands and declare their consent before God and the Church." HANDS... TOUCHING HANDS.

HOLY ORDERS: When I was ordained a priest there is a part of the Rite where the Bishop anointed the palms of my hands with oil, sanctifying them, and then he folded them together and folded his hands over mine. HANDS... TOUCHING HANDS.

ANOINTING OF THE SICK: Commonly referred to as the last rites, involves a beautiful part of the Rite which is the laying on of the hands. The Rites invites those who are praying with the sick person to lay hands on them. So imagine a family in the hospital surrounding their loved on gathered around the bed all laying hands on them, with the priest laying hands on the persons head, all together in silence. HANDS REACHING OUT... TOUCHING ME... TOUCHING YOU...

You see all of the sacraments involve this TOUCH. So why do we need to go to a priest for confession? Why do we have to go to mass on Sunday when we could just as easily pray at home? Well, the answer to these "Why's" is that "God wants to touch us." He wants to take our hands.

Whatever it is that you are struggling with; you don't have to do it alone. You were never meant to do it alone. What it means to be a Human Person, What it means to be a Catholic, is to be a member of this faith community. God gives us the Sacraments so that he can touch us with human hands. So that he can speak to us with a human voice. So that he can look into our eyes and have us look into His.

It is so important not only to go to mass on Sunday, but to be involved in a faith community. To be an active member of a parish and participate in the Sacramental life of the church. So that God can "take you by the hand."

You all know the song, and we all have the urge to reach out when we get to that part of HANDS... TOUCHING HANDS. God knows this about us. He's made us this way. And He's given us the sacraments so that He can touch us. So reach out to Him in the Church and in the Sacraments and let Him touch you with his HANDS.


  1. This message is both simple and profound. It puts the Church into the role of helping to make our connection to God more real, more tangible. There's a lot to be said for moving God out of the realm of the abstract. This is the starting point for actually having a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

  2. I loved this Homily Fr Michael. Touching, My Love language.Hope you are doing well. I had an amazing weekend. I will have to call you and tell you about it. TEC 94.


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