One of the morning prayers from the liturgy of hours recently included the phrase, “Make us love and obey you, so that the works of our hands may always display what your hands have done.” It led me to contemplate just what the hands of Jesus did, when he lived here on earth, and how my hands could participate in and reflect those same works now.
Jesus’s hands broke bread and gave it to the people around him – to his disciples at the Last Supper, symbolizing his body; but also to the crowds of people following him when he saw that they were hungry and needed food.
Jesus’s hands got dirty (literally, sometimes) bringing healing to the sick and disabled – like the time when he spit in the dirt to make mud and plastered it on a blind man’s eyes to give him sight.
Jesus’s hands washed his disciples’ feet – tenderly and gently carrying out lowly and very unglamorous work for the good of others.
Jesus’s hands, for years before his ministry even began, built those strong and useful and beautiful things that a carpenter’s son would grow up learning to make – the work of a laborer.
And Jesus’s hands, in the end, endured the nails, stretched out over the world, giving themselves in love and hope for our redemption though the path was one of deep suffering.
It gives an entirely new perspective on the tasks of everyday life, especially the less enjoyable ones like cleaning or helping the kids with showers and bathroom needs… Instead of seeing each chore as some annoying intrusion that I have to deal with so I can get on with the things I actually like, I can choose to see those things as opportunities to display with the works of my hands the things that Jesus’s hands have done. By living for so many years as a human person in a human family with all the daily work that goes along with that (remember, he wasn’t born as royalty!), he showed how even those low, humble, tedious, unpleasant, or dirty tasks can be a conduit of God’s love through us to those around us who are blessed by our labor.
So I continue to pray that prayer, that “the works of our hands may always display what your hands have done” – that rather than acting out of pride, selfishness, or sloth, my hands would mirror Jesus’s deep love and humility.