May 26, 2019

God’s Hands: Firm and Secure

Could our Gospel passage (John 10:27-30) be any shorter on this Fourth Sunday of Easter? Yet, it packs a tremendous amount of comfort for each one of us, even though, perhaps, for different reasons.

“No one can take them out of my hand.” “No one can take them out of the Father’s hand.”

Some of us are hurting badly; some are frustrated, at their wits’ end, disappointed; while others are repeated offenders, even big-time sinners, ashamed of what they have done; still others are dissatisfied with specific things, waiting anxiously for a change, a break or stubbornly staying a helpless course, and so on.

What Jesus wants us to be certain of is that God’s hands are firm and secure. Have you ever seen a mother drop her child for whatever reason, because she was too weak, too tired, too hurt? Well, the hands of our God are those hands that made the hands of the persons whom we trust the most in our life, Mom’s and Dad’s and Grandparents’ above all.

Let us not forget that Jesus utters these most reassuring words from the Gospel of John precisely within the framework of Easter. The hands that hold us 24/7/365 are the very same hands that yanked the corpse of Jesus from the grasp of death itself after three days in the tomb. No one else has ever dared to make an equally incredible, peculiar claim.

Our God has no competition in this field of vanquishing death, our worst enemy. There are no surer hands in the whole wide world! So, our severest hurts, our repeated frustrations, our mental anguish, our emotional meltdowns, our most bitter disappointments, the shameful repetition of the same sins over and over again, even any mortal wounds, our haunting letdowns, our dashed hopes are all child play for the hands of our God.

One and all of these situations that, by itself, can defeat us, can exhaust us and can bring us to our knees are actually the very reasons why His love for us forces Him to hold us even more tightly to His heart!

“No one can take them out of my hand.” “No one can take them out of the Father’s hand.”

Besides Mother’s Day, today is also Vocation Sunday across the Catholic world. It is the day set aside to consider how much value we are willing to give to invest something personal (money, prayers, sacrifices, one of our own sons) so that our Church may be assured a continuity of service in the ministerial priesthood.

In light of this feast, then, we could consider any priestly vocation a calling to remind the faithful of what God does, once we realize that we are firmly in His hands. Through our priests, through events, through people close to us, the Lord addresses whatever restlessness, whatever dissatisfaction, whatever hurt we might hold inside and from which we, on our own, could not shake ourselves loose.

Invariably, the Lord would use those very people that He placed in our life, to explain to us the reasons why we are in pain and also the meaning of the pain that we hold inside. Whatever the reason for our pain and regardless of our ability to find meaning in our suffering, the remedy is always to be sought in our willingness to throw ourselves into His hands and live with the certainty that He will not drop us.

This is how Paul and Barnabas were able to endure the hardships associated with their ministry, the rejection, the envy of some Jews, the violence that was meted out to them, time and again. This is how a multitude too large to be counted, wearing white robes and holding palms of victory in their hands could rejoice in the triumph of the Lamb, in the conquest achieved by Christ the Lord.

Years ago, while waiting my turn for a weekly swimming lesson at a YMCA pool, I noticed how the instructor could get little children to overcome their fear of the water: Mom or Dad would be in the water, smiling and encouraging their child to jump in their awaiting arms. All children would jump certain that Mom or Dad would have caught them for sure. They knew, at gut level, that being so very precious, their parents would have never dropped them! As fear was thus conquered one jump after another, the faces of the children lit up with an ever broader smile. The water was fun; life was fun.

Well, today it is my turn, once again, to remind myself and all of you that there are two reasons why life could be burdensome and gray: we might not trust the Lord enough to catch us every time; we might think that His hands are not so strong, so secure; and the second reason would be our failure to link our pain, resentment, frustration, unrealistic expectations and fear to our inability to truly love and believe in love.

Today, Vocation Sunday, I wish we would grow so tired of what is bothering us that we become willing to sacrifice a lot, to pay a personal price to get new young men to choose the ministerial priesthood as their vocation in life. May we also resolve to cure our pain by relearning to love and jump with full trust in the awaiting hands of our God.

“No one can take them out of my hand.” “No one can take them out of the Father’s hand.”

“The Father and I are One.”

Today, into God’s hands we also entrust our mothers, who in our eyes are a most eloquent sign of God’s love for us and whose hands will never drop us. We pray that the Lord may keep, protect and guide them all the days of their life; and may we be inspired by their love for us to do the same for all those whom the Lord has entrusted to our care.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.

View all articles
Written by Fr Dino Vanin