Remember Jesus has no hands but yours and mine

Published 12:00am Saturday, October 20, 2012

There are certain stories you hear that are so meaningful you never forget them.  One that I will always remember comes from a retired military chaplain who shared it with me.

It happened during World War II. After D-Day, our soldiers pushed the Nazis out of France. As each village was liberated, a contingency of GI’s was left behind to restore order.

While occupying these towns and cities, they helped the citizens re-establish authority such as local law enforcement. Our armed forces also helped them with the enormous task of cleaning up what the bombing had destroyed.

In a particular town, one of the first buildings the people asked to be repaired was their cathedral. As the pews and altar in the sanctuary were returned to their rightful place, a statue of Jesus was found on the floor.

His hands had been broken off and could not be found in the rubble. While they were trying to decide what to do about replacing Jesus’ hands, they put the statue of Him by the altar where it once stood.

One day, the people were amazed at what a soldier had printed on a piece of paper and attached to the statue. It read, “He has no hands, but yours.”

It is said that the statue’s hands were never replaced, and the message with its profound words remains there to this day. The story reminds me of Jesus’ words recorded by His disciples.

Our Lord often repeated the phrase, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” I know He meant the kingdom of heaven was near, but could there be more significance to the phrase?

I wonder if He was saying we should reach out to those near us, especially those in need, the way He would if He were walking on the earth. Since Christians are His followers, we are His hands.  He has no other hands, but ours.

Jesus said when we feed the hungry, clothe those who are naked, or when we visit the sick or those who are in prison, “Insomuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40).

I’ve heard it said, “Others will not care how much we know until they know how much we care.”  There are two questions we need to ask ourselves, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

William Penn, a Quaker who sailed to America in 1682 and established Philadelphia, Penn., the city of brotherly love, once wrote, “I expect to pass through life but once.  If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow-being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

There are people only an arm’s-length away from us to whom we can lend a helping hand.  You and I must be His hands reaching out to others.

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Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist.  Her email address is jwhite@andycable.com.

 

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