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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

The Hands of Jesus

Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told (Jesus) about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her, and she waited on them. (Mk 1:30-31)

He grasped her hand. How did it feel to have her hand grasped by the hand of Jesus? Did she sense strength in his hand? Did she feel any callouses? Did she detect softness and tenderness in his touch? This passage in the Gospel of Mark got me to wondering: How many times in the Gospels are Jesus’ hands mentioned? And what are they doing?

(Photo by Valeria Boltneva – Pexels)

Jesus’ hands brought healing. One day a leper says to Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretches out his hands, saying, “I will do it. Be made clean,” and the leprosy was cured immediately. (Mt. 8:2-3). Jesus restores sight to the blind man. He takes the man by the hand and leads him outside the village. (Imagine walking hand in hand with Jesus…) Then he puts spittle on the man’s eyes. When the man sees only vaguely, Jesus puts spittle on the man’s eyes a second time, and his sight is restored (Mk. 8: 23-25). Jesus cures the deaf man in a similar way (Mk. 7:31-35), putting his fingers in the man’s ears and even touching his tongue.

Jesus’ hands had the power to bring people back to life. When he meets Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter, he is told she is already dead (Mt. 9:25-26). But he takes her by the hand, and she arises. When he encounters the widow in Naim burying her only son, he is “moved with pity” for her. He stops the funeral procession, touches the coffin, and tells the young man to arise. The widow’s son sits up and begins to speak (Lk. 7: 11-17).

(Photo by Pixabay)

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus’ hands are seen doing other things as well. They bless and play with little children. When the accused woman is brought before him, Jesus’ hands write something mysterious in the sand. His hands help distribute bread to feed the hungry crowds, and they overturn tables and drive the money changers out of the temple. At the Last Supper, his hands wash the feet of his disciples, they break the bread, they dip a piece of bread and hand it to Judas his betrayer. In Gethsemane, Jesus’ hands are clenched in agony pleading with the Father, “Let this cup pass from me.” They heal the slave’s ear that Peter had severed with a sword. Then Jesus’ hands are bound by the soldiers as he is led away. And finally, before he was lifted up on the cross, Jesus’ hands were pierced with nails.

Even after his resurrection, Jesus’ hands are busy. When he first appears to his stunned disciples, his hands bless them with peace. A week later, Jesus invites Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands to convince him that he is really Jesus. Another time, he serves his apostles a barbequed breakfast on the beach, a breakfast made with his own hands.

(Photo by Kampus Productions – Pexels)

St. Teresa of Avila, said those famous words, “Christ has no body now but yours… no hands… no feet… no eyes… no voice but yours.” I’m suggesting you pay attention to your hands this week. Maybe spend a few moments just gazing at them and thanking God for them. Is any of your history reflected in your hands? As you have aged, have your hands changed? If so, in what ways?

You might want to notice the hands of others this week too. Watch children who are just learning to use their little hands. Observe the hands of workers such as construction people, mechanics, cashiers, people knitting or crocheting, cooks, hair dressers, doctors, your parish priest, teachers, the elderly.

And finally, reflect on some of the things you do with your hands on any given day. How do you use them, in imitation of Jesus, to bring healing, life, and love into our world? I welcome your comments below.

(Photo by RODNAE Productions – Pexels)

Announcing our Contest Winners!

Everyone who submitted a comment on last week’s blog was entered into a raffle to win an autographed copy of one of my books. We had over 100 comments last week–the most in the 10 year history of “Sunflower Seeds.” So, instead of picking three winners, I decided to pick FIVE! So here are the names of the five lucky winners (drum roll, please!):

Pat B. from Parma, OH. She chose the book “Picking Strawberries.” Pat’s been reading “Sunflower Seeds” for about 4 years, but has been reading my books longer, she said.

Jane McCarthy from Naples, FL. I’ve known Jane and her beloved husband Deacon Ed for many years. Jane’s been reading “Sunflower Seeds” since the very beginning.

Pat Dangelo from Ephrata, PA. Pat chose “The Lord Is My Shepherd” for her husband. She’s been reading this blog for about 10 years.

Adriana H. from Tacoma, WA. She chose “Hanging onto Hope” and has been reading this blog since 2014.

Maria Orlandini, OSF from Greenbelt, MD. Sister Maria chose the book “Picking Strawberries.” She said she made one of my retreats in Aston, PA a while ago. She’s been reading “Sunflower Seeds” for about four years.

Announcing this week’s contest!

This week I will award three $10 Amazon gifts cards. All you have to do to win, is to finish this sentence in 25 words or less: “I would like to win a $10 gift card because…” Your reason can be simple… serious… funny… erudite… creative… poetic… holy… or whatever. As I did last week, I will put your names in a basket and have one of my friends draw three names. Submit your comment by Saturday noon (Eastern time) January 29. Winners of the books this week are ineligible. Gift card winners will be announced next week! At that time I will announce our final contest. The prize is unusual. I came up with the idea while crawling out of bed one morning. It should be fun not only for the three lucky winners, but also for me! Stay tuned!

Our video today is the song “His Hands” written by Kenneth Cope and sung here by Jenny Jordan Frogley. Though the lyrics aren’t included, the visuals from the life of Jesus will help carry the words. The final refrain can be our mantra this week: “I will make my hands like those from Galilee.”

Please add your comment below to today’s reflection. Your additions and insights are most welcome! Then (if you want) enter the contest at the end of your comment.

71 Responses

  1. I would like to win a $10 gift card because I spilled coffee on the book my son lent me and need to replace it!

  2. “I would like to win a $10 gift card because I would like to order a spiritual book for the upcoming Lenten season.

  3. Saint Francis de Sales:

    God will hold you in his hand, and if he lets you stumble, it will only be so that you realize that you would collapse entirely if he did not hold you, and thus to make you tighten your grip upon his hand.

    This stood out to me today from a meditation in the Magnificat. So timely with your essay today. Thank you

  4. Good morning Sister and all,
    I was deeply touched by your reflection today. Reading your words placed me immediately back eleven years ago inside an ICU unit. With a failing heart, feeling life’s curtain draw close, more unconscious than conscious, Joe, an ICU nurse in training, squeezed my hand. That small human gesture appeared like a magnificent firework display and broke through my stupor as a cherished kindness. Joe, wherever he is today, remains in my prayers as do all healthcare workers. God bless your efforts to heal.

  5. One of the things that struck me the first time I was a Eucharistic Minister was the hands of all the people. All the hands different. Some strong some small some large but they all were reaching out to receive Jesus. It was a powerful experience.

  6. “I would like to win a $10 gift card because I haven’t won anything in more than a decade!”

  7. Thank for the reminder of what Jesus taught us while using His hands during His time on this earth. I will reach out today to give folks a hand.

    I would like to win the $10 gift certificate because I would like to go to a grocery store and HAND it to the person behind me in line. Giving in this time of inflation may help a family make ends meet.

    Blessings to all,

  8. Utterly beautiful in every way … words, pictures and song:
    ‘I will make my hands like those from Galilee’
    Grateful thanks to you Sister Melannie 🙏🏼

  9. I remember looking at my husband’s grandmother’s hands at her viewing when she passed well into her 90s. She had a hard life. She was raped as a teen and bore a child she had to give away and then mourned for him for the remainder of her. She married and her husband was a violent alcoholic who beat her in front of her four small children, traumatizing my mother-in-law her entire life. With the help of a kind priest, she managed to escape with the children while her husband was at work and had to remain in hiding from him for their safety. During the depression she placed each child in foster care so she could work in a factory in Michigan. She was finally able to gather them all back and together they lived a life of faith and dignity. Her youngest daughter Mary recently died well into her 90s after caring for the elderly, as her religious order, Little Sisters of the Poor did. Aunt Mary told me watching her mother care for others led her to that vocation. When I looked at her hands at rest, holding a rosary, I was so overwhelmed by the grace she had found to use them throughout her life including working in factories, cooking and cleaning her house, caring for and comforting her children, and then grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. (Her Snickerdoodle were the best.). I felt humbled standing beside her at the end of such a long and often hard life. She was at peace. To me, her hands brought her and so many others to holiness.

  10. I would like to win a $10 gift card because I just wanted to enter your contest! In these days of pandemic, we need to find fun wherever we can!

  11. Love your blog! Treasure the insights…

    I would like to win a gift card …to give to someone in need!

  12. This is such a good meditation. Thank you! I’ve often thought of Jesus’ hands being nailed to the cross, but hadn’t considered all the ways He used them during His life. And I loved the song & video. All of these things make your weekly posts one of my favorites.

  13. My hands do not always work as well as they used to. But I try to use them as much as I can in small ways to keep them active. I sometimes imagine Jesus’ arms around me in comfort,now I will think of Him holding my hand as well. I would like to enter the contest as well because I am hooked on Amazon and it would save me $10. Thank you for your always thought filled reflection.

  14. Your theme today, The Hands of Jesus, touched me to my core. Like so many of your readers, we have all heard these stories of Jesus healing, touching those who came to him in suffering of one sort or another. How often have we thought about how Jesus used his hands?
    My hands became important to me when, at the age of 13 or so, my mother took my hand in hers and said,” what beautiful hands you have!” I had never noticed. But she went on to tell me how her hands were covered with freckles and ‘age spots’; were misshapen by arthritis; and were seldom manicured, chapped by the soapy water into which they were immersed over and over each day. Years later when I was a mother of two boys, my niece and I were chatting when, out of the blue, she exclaimed,”Aunt Kathleen, you have Grandma’s hands!” At the time, I was crushed, but through the years I know all of the ways my mother used her hands in so many ways as Jesus did: to love, to heal, to caress… I must remember to thank my niece for her, at the time, insulting comment, but now treasured compliment.

    I’d like to enter the contest in memory of my mother’s hands. I’ll use my hands to give away to someone in need, as my mother would have done.

  15. Melannie, I love this meditation. Takes me back to one of my favorite books (oldie, but a goodie. I know it is old because the price of the book was $3.95 Ha!) As Bread That is Broken. Chapter 4:
    “Prayer is to be in God’s presence with open hands and an open heart. There are many things in my life to which I cling as with a clinched fist — my possessions for sure, but the immaterial things as well — the work I do, the position I hold, the friends I have, my ideas, my principles, my image. If I should open my fist, they still remain. Nothing drops out. But my hands are open. And that is what prayer is. After a while, if I am willing to remain long enough with open hands, the Lord will come. He will have a look and roam through my hands to sew what I have. He may be surprised — so many things! Then he will look at me and ask: ‘Would you mind if I take out this little bit?’ And I answer: ‘Of course you may take it out That’s why I am here with open hands.’ And perhaps the Lord will look at me another tie and ask: ‘Would you mind if I put something else in your hands?’ And I answer: ‘Of course you may.’ That is the heart of prayer….only to stay there long enough with open heart and open hands for the Lord to come.”

    Please enter my name for the Amazon. If I were to win, I’d pass it on to a new found friend on Next who is in need of help and lives on the fringe of society.

    1. I’m sorry for the loss of your son Nancy. My son died this past September of a AVM (vessel malformation he had all his life…unknown to us.). As I sat with him for two days I held his hand, looked at his hands, stroked his hands…and I remembered doing the same when he was born. I actually have a picture of his hands (He was a pianist) on my cellphone that I like to look at. As painful as your memory is, I’m sure it was a great comfort to him for you to be there. Mary Cook

  16. Sr. Melannie,
    Thank you for this lovely and thought-provoking meditation.
    As my hands begin to function less well, as they are more tender in the mornings and evenings, I have lamented the changes. However, they still “work”, a reason to rejoice that they can be put in service to others!
    The music video is a keeper – many thanks for this.

  17. When I fractured my right wrist in July, I was without the use of my dominant hand for several weeks. With little strength or control of my left hand, this was more inconvenient than painful. I had taken my hands for granted…not so now!

    With a $10 gift card I would buy a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle for sanity’s sake.

  18. I also was a Eucharistic minister and I loved looking at all the hands of the communicants.
    Different colors,sizes,smooth, worn. Also my niece is an activities aide in a nursing home and she posts pictures ( no faces ) of the residents cooking, making decorations,etc. I love seeing those elder hands in action.

  19. You always inspire and give me food for thought!
    I was surprised when my nephew, Jack, who’s an Oblate Missionary, sent me something from your blog he follows you also. I am now in my 80s, still don’t know how that happened, but I am Thankful for each day. One day I showed my Daughter my hands and said, “My hands look just like my Momma’s did”.
    She showed me hers, and said, “Mine do too”.
    Funny but amazing the genes we pass down to our children, and I give thanks every day, I am able to use mine!
    Blessings and Love Dear Melanie, been a follower of yours for many years 🙏🏼♥️♥️
    Rosemary LeVoyer

  20. I love Sunflower Seeds. I look forward to it every week. My hands are old looking but would like to think they are helpful to everyone I touch.

    I would like a $10 gift card to enjoy another book by you, Sister Melannie.

  21. Hello Sister Melannie! I would like to win a $10 gift card because I read your posts!
    Thank you for this reminder of looking, and appreciating, hands. One of my memories of a child was observing my mother’s hands: as she worked but mostly in church as she prayed. Then another memory of her hands as she got older…still beautiful, but instead of her holding my hand I was holding hers.

  22. I’ll give the Amazon Gift Card to the delivery person, who brings me my weekly phoned -in food order. I’m homebound, due to CP, and haven’t been able to leave my ho e since November 2017.

  23. Hello Sister Melanie, I thought that today’s video on Jesus’ hands during the course of his life was so moving. I even went and found the words to the song “HIS HANDS” which are so beautiful, too. When I can’t attend daily Mass I watch it on Catholic TV. A variety of priests celebrate the Mass, and I get to see their hands up close during the Consecration and other parts of the Mass. I like seeing their devotion as they hold the consecrated host.
    I would like to win the $10 gift card to give to my neighbors next door who are such wonderful people. Thank you!

  24. I would like to win a $10 Amazon card because we are retired, living on SS and since Covid we shop primarily on Amazon.
    PS I absolutely loved the song today! My 82 year old hands are still able to make music! Hallelujah!

  25. The video today brought tears to my eyes; it really moved me.

    The Amazon gift card would let me order some wood.
    With it my husband and I would do some good.
    We carve little gnomes and paint them so cute
    We give them away not expecting any loot.
    The person receiving wants to make a donation,
    We say pick a charity with growing elation!

  26. A beautiful reflection, Melannie. I take my hands (and Jesus’ hands) for granted.

    I would like to win a $10 Amazon gift card to buy a gift for someone else.

  27. Good evening, Sr. Melannie…
    Good evening, all…

    Such a great topic! Jesus’ hands. He was a carpenter, so I guess that means his hands were callused, a bit rough. They were not afraid of hard work, of getting dirty. That’s such a beautiful thing!

    I would love like to win a $10 Amazon gift card because it would help me to get my “hands” on a few more books!

  28. I would like to win the $10 Amazon card to buy one of your books. We met you at the Women’s Conference in Chicopee/Springfield MA years ago. We actually had breakfast with you and have been following you since then.

  29. I have been a dental hygienist for 40 years, and use my hands every day to help people maintain or restore health in the oral cavity. It gives me so much pleasure to help people with this, however most people aren’t all that happy to be there. I still like to help them and learn about them and make their visit as pleasant as possible. I never have and never will take using my hands for granted. This is such a lovely reflection, and I really enjoyed it. I would like to win a $10 Amazon card because I need a butter dish 🙂

  30. I would like to win a $10 Amazon gift card so that I can do a raffle with the staff who work with our special needs children.
    I really enjoyed your blog today and to finish it with the song and video was perfect, thank you.

  31. Beautiful reflection and reminder how much is done and can be done through the work of our hands each days. Thank you always, Melanie, for providing much to ponder each week.

    If I win the gift certificate, I would put it toward Kathy Coffey’s latest book “More Hidden Women in the Bible.” The story you shared recently piqued my interest as well as the format of the book with reflection questions.

    By the way, I know the winner from Greenbelt and also made a retreat with you in Aston!

    Blessings and gratitude!

  32. I would like to win a $10 gift card so I could share another book of Blessed Carlo Acutis with another millennial youth.

  33. I would like to win a $10 Amazon card to give it to a paraprofessional at my school who has 3 kids and makes $16,000.

    1. Dear Sr. Melannie,
      Today’s reflection re Jesus’ Hands is so beautiful ! As a nurse for many years, I have held many Hands and know the power of touch….it is part of healing for many people.
      Thanks you so much for your weekly inspiration.
      Many Blessings for you and your hands!

  34. Dear Sr. Melannie,
    Today’s reflection re Jesus’ Hands is so beautiful ! As a nurse for many years, I have held many Hands and know the power of touch….it is part of healing for many people.
    Thanks you so much for your weekly inspiration.
    Many Blessings for you and your hands!

  35. Sister Melanie,
    Thank you for the weekly blog which starts my week. Because of your recent reference to Kathy Coffey’s book, I ordered two of her books ( Amazon’s free shipping).
    If I were to win the gift card, I would order another Coffey book for a needy friend.

  36. Good morning to all,
    Hands have been something I have been reflecting on for a long time…..we take them so for granted. A few years back, I volunteered to give hand and feet massages to the Dominican sisters in my community…at their Motherhouse. As I massaged them, I would reflect on all the things each of those hands had done in their lifetime, likewise with their feet….where had those feet carried them and to do what? I encouraged them to reflect/meditate on their own hands and feet.

    As to my own hands…..when I was in grade school, I was quite pudgy and so were my hands. My best friend’s hands showed some veins in them and I was terribly jealous and wished my hands would show veins…..well, I have more than I ever wished for because at age 78, my hands seem more blue than pinkish…..but I try to use my hands to impart love, as Jesus did.

    Thank you, Sr. Melannie for always giving us thought- provoking images.

    May you all find peace in the arms of God’s love,

  37. Good Morning Sister,
    You are so generous and awesome!!!
    I would like to win the gift card to present to my classmate who just lost her two baby granddaughters in a house fire. The Mom was injured but is OK. Please pray for those two little souls. Thank you.

  38. I would love to win the gift card as I could use it to get another book to read and start on its journey to others who can’t afford books. We give away about a book a month plus a book club and home reading. Bless you.

  39. Dear Sister,
    I so enjoy and look forward to you weekly post. I now also look through the notes you get from other viewers. I noticed so many people ask to receive the gift card to give away. These are the people who look forward to your post each week. You promote Good Company!
    Hands reminds me of when my nephew was near death, caused by college punks. The insightful nurse or assistant asked if they could cast Brads hands for my brother and sister in law. What a precious gift to help remember him. Brad was 22 and his hands probably were the size of Jesus hands. Thank you Sister for writing each week.

  40. Considering how affirming a touch received can be, I ponder over and over how hesitant I tend to be in offering the same to others.

    I was very inspired by several of the comments which witnessed to the power of personal connection through touch, especially when life was ebbing away or in need of being restored.

  41. Thank you for the beautiful reflection on hands. I would like to win the gift card for a Mass stipend for a Mass for my godfather who died a few months ago. Or I could put it toward a warm pair of gloves for my hands when I go outside on these cold NE Ohio winter days to feed the hungry birds and other animals.

  42. Good morning Sister Melannie! I Love your blog, it is always so inspiring!
    I would like to win a $10.00 gift card so I can give it to my Grandson who is in first year of Vet School.

  43. Thank you for the beautiful reflection on hands, Melanie. Many times I have prayed with the Scripture passages on hands. A favorite picture of mine is the large hand of God holding the child. It reminds me that God always holds me in the palm of His hand.
    If I win the Amazon gift card, I’d like to buy a Lenten book for the Sisters with whom I live.

  44. Sister Melannie – I enjoy your weekly reflections and I’m looking forward to your virtual retreat on Feb 11-12.

    I would like to win a $10 gift card because winning something (no matter how big or small) makes me happy. Then I’d pass the gift card along to a friend who likes to read to make her day too.

  45. I just loved the Hands meditation. Today a friend shared a short video of her first grandchild – gurgling all the while with his fingers/hand in his mouth. She held a sweet conversation with him during the clip. Seeing his hand in his mouth was perfect as I read and reflected on your meditation.
    Yes —I would like to receive a $10 gift card, because I love books and rarely buy them in hardcover. Kindle is great, but not the same as feeling the pages as you turn them.
    Thanks, Sr. Melanie!

  46. What an interesting article about the hands of Jesus, a totally new way of looking at so many gospel readings.

    I think we all take our hands for granted, there’s not much we can do without them. We can use them to soothe, to create, wo work and to play. I will try to notice how others use their hands.

    I would like to win a gift card to purchase some greeting cards to send to friends that are far away or are homebound!

    Have a wonderful week and thanks for your thoughtful inspirations each week.

  47. Your message this week was beautifully written. It brought memories of my father’s hand as he held mine while we crossed the street. His hand was that of a working man, big and strong. It made me feel safe. I can still remember that feeling. Also the memory of my brother, as he was dying when I said to him, your in God’s Hands, he opened his eyes, looked at me and knotted. Thank you for bringing back those special memories. Who wouldn’t want a Amazon gift card? It’s fun having a chance. It just makes me smile thinking about it. If won we will see what God leads me to do .

  48. This week’s reflection on hands really struck me. I spent my entire career working with my hands as a physical therapist. Last March I had a fall and broke my right hand and severely damaged my right shoulder. I spent 6 months regaining the strength and movement in my hand and shoulder. The hands of the PT who worked with me made me appreciate how much human touch mattered. I spent a lot of time reflecting on my career and my human touch.
    I would like to win the Amazon gift card to help buy a bookcase for all my books including yours.

  49. Hands are powerful. I always believed that. The simple touch of someone in need takes them to a new place, to someone dying brings they bring them peace, a hug for an accomplishment means affirmation, a stroking of a child’s arm quiets them and the list can go on… and your reflection only affirmed all of this. And the song and visual confirmed all of this in such a beautiful way.

    I would like to win the Amazon gift card because I always keep one tucked under the centerpiece on
    my table –ready to slip into a card of someone in need.

  50. I would love to win the Amazon gift card to purchase a book for myself or someone else. I enjoy reading your blog and find it very encouraging. God bless you!

  51. I know I’m too late for the raffle but if I had answered the question “I would love to win the amazon gift card because this prompt made me look up a new word today–erudite–I guess I am just that” 🙂
    thank you for all you do, Sr. Melannie. I LOVE your blog.

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Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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