July 14, 2024

The Korean war was raging. A little village came under heavy artillery fire. In the village stood a Catholic church. Outside the church, mounted on a pedestal, was a fine statue of Christ. However, when the smoke of battle cleared away, the statue had disappeared. It had been blown off its pedestal and lay in fragments on the ground.

A group of American soldiers helped the priest to collect up the frag­ments. Carefully they put the statue together again. They found all the pieces except the hands. They offered to fly the back to America and have hands made for it. But the priest refused.

“I Have a better idea”, he said. “Let’s leave it without hands. And we’ll write on the pedestal the words: FRlEND, LEND ME YOUR HANDS. In that way passers-by will come to see that Christ now has no hands but ours with which to raise up the fallen; no feet but ours to seek out the lost; no ears but ours to listen to the lonely; no tongue but ours to speak words of comfort to the lonely.”

This little incident brings out very well the message of today’s Gospel. Jesus involved the apostles in his work. He shared his divine mission with them. He gave them his own authority and power. No doubt they made mistakes, which is not surprising considering they were ordinary men.

Amos was a simple shepherd (First Reading). Yet God sent him to preach a message of repentance to his people. Most of the apostles were fishermen. Yet Jesus didn’t hesitate to share his work with them. Even more surprising – the day came when he entrusted his entire work to them.

Many in authority have a fear of involving people in a work, espe­cially so-called ordinary people. Hence, people are left with the feeling that they have nothing to contribute. It is good for people to be involved. It makes them responsible. It gives them an opportunity to use their tal­ents. It builds up a community spirit.

But sometimes people don’t want to be involved. It’s easier to leave it to the experts. The practice of leaving it to the professionals is very com­mon today. Thus, all healing is left to doctors and nurses. All teaching is left to teachers. All the work for the poor is left to the Government or the Vincent de Paul Society.

Of course experts are needed for specialized jobs. But the non-special­ist too has a lot to contribute and often has a warmer heart. The sick have as much need of companionship as of medicine. The old need someone to spend time with them. The young need someone to show an interest in them. This is work we all can do. It does not call for any expertise – only a caring heart.

The Bible starts with the story of how God made human beings part­ners in the work of creation. And Christ made his disciples partners in the work of salvation. A great responsibility has been laid upon us. A great honor has been conferred on us. We are responsible for God’s world and for one another. We are stewards of creation. We are co-workers with Christ.