Posted on Aug 24, 2021 by Jon Brudvig
Recently I discovered a powerful story while reading my daily devotional prayer book. The reflection highlighted the insight of a Roman Catholic missionary who spent 40 years serving with and among the people of Guatemala. During that time, the priest experienced many challenges, including death threats and financial struggles. Yet, through it all he remained happy, fulfilled, and generous in spirit.
When asked by a fellow priest, “Bernie, how did you do it all?” the missionary opened his hands and replied, “with these.” Open hands. “When your hands are open, you can give and receive freely, with God and with those you care about. When your hands are open, you are then open to what really matters and is meaningful in life,” noted Fr. Bernadine. “But when your hands are fists, then you’re just fighting against God and life. When your arms and hands are crossed, you’re just being stubborn, never giving or receiving. God’s happiness for you is not found in either one of those.”
Fr. Bernadine’s wisdom distilled from many years of faithful ministry captures an important truth. One way to measure “success” in our lives and in our shared ministries is simply to pay attention to how open we are to the needs of our neighbors and the world around us. Are our hands clenched tight in selfish grasping? Or are our hands and hearts open to God’s gracious activity in our lives?