Daily Reflections
by Cathy

Stretch out your hand!

At prayer before Our Lady’s statue in front of St. James Church
(c) Anthony Zubac 2018


January 23, 2019
St. Vincent, St. Marianne Cope

Dear Family of Mary!

The Gospel reading for Holy Mass today is from Mark. It is the story of the healing of the man with a withered hand. It is short, and to the point. Here it is:

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death. (Mk 3: 1-6)

It would seem this scene was a set-up. The men in the synagogue wanted to see what Jesus would do about the man with the withered hand on the sabbath. They wanted to accuse Him. But Jesus would not cower. He boldly asked the man with the withered hand to step up before them all. Then he confronted the Pharisees about their legalistic view of the sabbath. “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Their silence revealed their duplicity. And so, Jesus turned to the man.

This is what was interesting to me. Jesus had invited this man to come to the front of the synagogue. “Come up here before us.” The man came up. And after the confrontation with the Pharisees Jesus said, “Stretch out your hand.” Jesus gave him two commands. Each one of them required a voluntary response, a response that would show some kind of trust, some kind of openness to Jesus. If the man had been afraid of the Pharisees, he would not have come up or stretched out his hand. If he was looking back (feeling self-conscious), he would have been full of shame at his disability, and maybe he would have declined being in the spotlight. This man clearly had to make a decision to trust Jesus and to follow His commands.

It is clear that the healing that ensued was the result not only of Jesus’ power, but of this man’s cooperation with Jesus. He obviously had come to trust Jesus, to surrender to Jesus, to reject fear and to expectantly open his heart to Jesus’ love. That was his part in the miracle that followed. He had to make a choice to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, in public and at a moment of tension and conflict. The man with the withered hand chose Jesus!

Now read Our Lady’s message through Jakov on Christmas, 2018, again.

“Dear children, on this day of grace, I am calling you to love. Little children, God loves you immeasurably and that is why, little children, full of trust and without looking back and without fear, completely surrender your hearts to Him so that God may fill them with His love. Do not be afraid to believe in His love and mercy, because His love is stronger than every one of your weaknesses and fears. Therefore, my children, full of love in your hearts, trust in Jesus and say your ‘yes’ to Him, because He is the only way which leads you to the Eternal Father.” (December 25, 2018 Jakov)


I believe Our Lady is leading us to the same kind of moment of choice that the man with the withered hand was at. She is calling us to the same kind of surrender and trust that he had, so that we can also be healed by Jesus, our Savior and Lord. She knows that Jesus has many graces to give us, but that we need to stand up, come to the front of the room and stretch out our hands and our hearts to Jesus. We all need miracles. Maybe we need a miracle every day! And so, we need to approach Jesus in our prayer in this very same way every day!

In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Cathy Nolan
©Mary TV 2019

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