Let This Be the Symbol

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A brother monk, whom I respect very much, spent forty years as a missionary to the people in Guatemala. Fr. Bernardine experienced many difficulties and even life-threatening dangers there. Yet he is one of the most naturally happy people I’ve ever met. I need this wisdom, so I asked him, “Bernie, how did you do it all?”

He told me, “Years ago, I let this be the symbol of my life—open hands.” 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. 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.

One of the great measures of success in our life is simply how open we are to the needs of the world around us. Are our hands and heart open or closed?

Joachim and Anne were open to the infant Mary. Mary was open to becoming the mother of Jesus. And in today’s Gospel, Joseph woke up from a fitful night of sleep, and he chose to be open hands to God’s plan and to welcome Mary and Jesus in his life.

Behold. God is with us! When God is going to do something wonderful, God often begins with something mysterious. When God is going to do something amazing, God unfolds a surprise. First, though, let your hands be open.

© Liturgical Press.

Fr. Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson, OSB, is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey, where he is the director of oblates and vocation team leader.

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