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The Last Word - July 2018

Putting our lives in God’s loving hands

One of my seminary formation faculty members, Father. Stephen Barrett, once told this story.  There was a poor family living in a neighborhood. The mother would often send her two young children, nine and six years old, to the corner store for some milk, a loaf of bread, or some other essential. Many times, the children would be emptying their pockets of change to purchase the items. Sometimes, there was not enough money, but the kindly store owner would give them the items and sometimes add a thing or two, because he knew the family’s situation. As he handed over the bag of groceries, he would invite each child to take a fistful of penny candy as a treat. The older brother eagerly grabbed his share, but the sister would just stand there. Eventually, the store owner would give her some candy and they would return home. After a while, the brother began to worry that his sister’s shyness would ruin this free candy reality.  On the way to the store he encouraged her to not be afraid to take the candy. As always, she refused and took the candy from the owner. On the way home, the brother finally exploded and asked her what possible problem did she have with taking free candy?  She stopped, looked up into his eyes and said, “Hey smarty pants, whose hands do you think are bigger, Mr. Smith’s, or mine?”

So often, we are tempted to grab our fistfuls in life. We demand to be recognized; we need to be in control of the situation; we want our share before someone else receives theirs. We tell God how much we will do, will give, and will pray. Society reinforces this attitude. We become proud that we have taken the initiative in living life. We expect God to keep careful track of all that we have done and to give us due credit. Sadly, like the older brother, you and I sometimes forget that God’s hands are much larger than ours. Whatever we can grab for ourselves, God is looking to give us so much more. When our hands are busy clutching upon what we want, they are not open to receive what God knows that we truly need. God wants us to live life in abundance. God’s blessings are overflowing.

I invite our readers to ask themselves: How can I be more like Mr. Smith in the story, looking to more fully share with those in need? How can I be more like the little sister, humble enough to allow our brothers and sisters to minister to our needs, faithful enough to understand that God has so much more that he wants us to receive from his loving hands?

Rev. Philip A. Tracy
Pastor, St. Matthew Parish in Limerick and St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Sanford