Hands Stretched Out

(Morning Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 5 February 2015)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

I have a question for you this morning.  What part of the human body has 27 bones, about 123 ligaments–those bands of tissue that connect the bones–34 muscles, 48 named nerves and 30 named arteries. If you guessed your hand, you are correct!  (I invite you to put your hands on your desk and look at them. Flex your fingers and thumb a few times. Now make a fist. Can you feel the bones and muscles? Study your knuckles for a moment. Then notice the arteries on the top side of your hand and on your wrist. These supply nutrients to your hand 24-hours a day and yet we barely notice them.)


Hands are used primarily for physically manipulating the environment, like grasping a large box or picking up a dime on the sidewalk–if people still do such things.

Our thumb adds unparalleled grip, grasp, and torque to the human hand. It enables us to grab a glass of water, hold a can of soda, sign our name, play a guitar, catch and throw a baseball, swing a golf club, hold a book to read, strike the space bar on a keyboard, wring out a wash cloth, wield a weapon, and send text messages to our friends.

Look at your finger nails. They are made of a tough protein called keratin. Finger nails protect the fingertip from injury. They also serve as tools, for example, untying a knot or pulling out a splinter from your finger. The fingertips themselves have the densest area of nerve endings on the entire body. Their extreme sensitivity is known by anyone who has ever petted a dog or banged their finger with a hammer. It is the fingers’ sensitivity that enables people to read Braille.


What a tremendous creation are our hands!

You can tell a lot about a person by their hands. You can gain great insight into a person’s self-image by their handshake. The confident person has a solid grip. The arrogant person has an overbearing handshake that seems to say, “You know, I can take you if I want.” The shy or self-conscious person gives the limp “dead-fish handshake” in which they are saying, “You won’t like me…I just know you won’t.”

You can also gain insight into the kind of work a person does by their hands. A person who does physical labor usually has rough and calloused hands. Others do office work and so their hands are smooth and sensitive. You will hear it said of athletes that they have “soft hands.” This is the opposite of someone who has stone hands. You throw the ball to the one with stone hands and they will drop the ball. You throw the ball to one with soft hands and they seem to welcome the ball like they are holding a newborn baby.


Hands can destroy—a punch, a strangle-hold, a knife held ready to strike, a finger on a trigger, a thrown firebomb or grenade.  Hands can also give life—a surgeon’s hand helping to deliver a baby or perform delicate surgery, a mother’s or father’s hand gently holding their child’s hand as they take their first step or cross the street, a friend’s hand comforting and holding the hand of another, a healing hand, like the hand of Jesus reaching out to the leper as we heard in Mrs. Kelly’s prayer a few weeks ago.


Likewise, we can decide to keep our hands in our pockets or to extend them in generosity.

This morning we are being asked to use our hands to reach deeply into our pockets, pocketbooks and wallets; this morning we are being asked to reach deeply into our hearts.  Then we are being asked to extend our hands in generosity, to give of our wealth, as much as possible, to those with much less—our younger Lasallian brothers and sisters of the Saint John Baptist de La Salle School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Every dollar is for them an opportunity, as Mr. Daly told us a few weeks ago—an opportunity for them to break the cycle of poverty in which they are trapped.  I humbly ask you this morning:  Stretch out your hands to Haiti in generosity!

hands for world

Let us pray:

God our Father—with your hands you created woman and man from mud and gave us life.

Jesus—with your hands you healed and blessed.  At the very end you stretched your hands out in love as you were crucified.

The Hands of Jesus

Holy Spirit–help to make our hands today the hands of Christ as we reach out with care and compassion to friend and stranger alike.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller