My Father's Hands

My Father's Hands
Fr. Jim Burshek, S.J.

Following is a reprint of a homily shared by Fr. Jim Burshek, S.J., during the 2021 Father-Son Mass on April 19. It is based on the gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Luke 24:35-48.

Looking at this group, I think of my own father. He was a fireman but he also worked with wood and built things around our house. A new porch. A new garage. 

I loved standing at the workbench watching him make things and fix things. He even made a bench for me when I was little so I could see what he was doing.

I think I remember this because of one line in today’s Gospel: “Look at my hands!”

My father’s hands were gnarled and yet gentle. His hands did so much for me — simple things like removing a splinter; putting a worm on the hook for me; putting a hand on my shoulder, giving a pat on the back (or a bit lower if I misbehaved!). His hands were not beautiful, not like a marble statue, but scarred and misshapen.

But through his hands, my father showed great love for me. 

I think of all the fathers here. Boys, look at their hands and think of all they have done for you

Your fathers’ hands have lifted you up, fed you, held you, changed your diapers, wiped away tears, comforted you when you were sick, handed over the keys to the car, congratulated and at times corrected you. These are the hands that cared for you when you were too small or too ill to care for yourself. These are the hands that held you up when you were too weak to stand on your own.

“Look at my hands,” Jesus says to us. We look and we see the wounds in those hands, and we think of the words of St. Paul, “He loved me and gave Himself up for me.” 

We look at the hands of Jesus and see that He is one of us; he is flesh and blood. He loves us so much that he gives everything for us. We look at his hands and see how even though bruised, they keep reaching out to raise us up. Jesus’ hands are signs of love and life for his disciples and for us.

Look at my hands!

And so, my challenge to you is this: How do we use our hands and our bodies to raise others up, to feed them, to console them, to strengthen them? How do we glorify God through our bodies?

Jesus tells us, “You will be my witnesses.” How do you do that today? How do people see what you do and give glory to God? How are you a sacrament of God’s love?

In closing, I ask you to reflect on the words of St. Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes through which He looks with

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,

Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are His body.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

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