Even in the womb, a baby will start sucking its thumb. The baby is perhaps learning the skills that it will need to feed once it is born. Once the baby is born, it will continue to suck its thumb, but will soon discover that those funny looking things at the ends of its arms are not just good to put in its mouth. They are interesting to look at too, and soon they will hold things that are even more interesting to look at, and even better to put in its mouth! The hand will be the baby’s first knife, fork and spoon, all rolled into one. It will be the easiest and least painful way of banging things so that they make a noise. They will learn the art of holding, the art of letting go and the art of knocking down. Wonderful!
Soon the baby will learn that there are other hands in the world too! Big hands. Big hands that can bring things, take them away, pat me, smack me, pick me up, put me down, feed me, clean me, do everything that I cannot do! But most of all, loving hands that are there all the time, teaching, protecting, loving.
As we grow, we learn just how wonderful hands are, because we learn how to use them and they become more skilful. We learn how to feed ourselves, how to write, how to express ourselves, how to dress ourselves, how to protect ourselves. We learn that hands can do good and bad. We learn that, with a punch, hands can express hatred and that, with a caress, they can show love. We can make and we can break. We can hold them up and say, “Yes, me!” We can keep them down and say, “No way!” We can beckon and say, “Come!” We can wave and say, “Go away!” With hands, the blind can see, with hands the mute can speak.
One day, a long time ago, a man’s hands were stretched out, so that he could be flogged. Other hands whipped him, beat him, punched him. He was made to use his hands to pick up a heavy cross and carry it to a desolate place and there, they stretched out his hands across that cross. Although he had no strength, he had the power to pull his hands back, but he didn’t, he held his hands out.
They took metal spikes and started to hammer them through his hands into the cross. Although he had no strength, he had the power to pull his hands back, but he didn’t, he held his hands out.
They lifted him up on the cross and he hung there by his hands, agony searing through his hands into his body. Although he had no strength, he had the power to pull his hands back and come down, but he didn’t, he held his hands out.
He felt the life ebbing from him. Although he had no strength, he had the power to pull his hands back and come down, but he didn’t, he held his hands out.
And so he died, his hands stretched out, nailed to the cross.
Three days later he rose from death. He held his hands out to show that it was him. He held his hands out to show that he had died on that cross. He held his hands out to show that he was alive.
And he still holds his hands out today. He holds his hands out to say “Come to me.” He holds his hands out to say, “I can forgive.” He holds his hands out to say, “I can make you free. I can heal. I can give eternal life.”
And all we have to do is to hold our hands out to him.