|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Easter Sunday – March 27, 2016
Imagine grabbing as much sand as we can into our hands. The first instinct is to grab it with a fist and hold as much as we can. Right? But we cannot hold very much sand in a closed fist. If we think about it for a while we realize we can hold more sand with an open hand. It is counter-intuitive at first but we know an open hand holds more. The more we grab the more sand falls out of your hands and yet the more we open our hand, the more sand remains.
At the Easter Vigil, we hear how Abraham had to let go to receive, “No Lord. I know you will come through.” Abraham had to open his hand and let go in order to receive. When he opened his hand to let go of his son, he received more grace than ever. Also the story of Moses: he held on so hard; he said, “Lord, where are you; I took my people to the desert and you have left us here to die!” The more he held on, the more they seemed to be persecuted. Instead, he had to let go and in letting go, the waters parted before him, and indeed they were freed. Then follow the stories of many prophets each one pleading with God to keep our hand open; to receive his love.
Our shared history as a people of faith is that we often keep closed. We hold onto the things of the past; we hold onto the hurts of the past; we hold on to our thinking of the past; we hold onto all things of the past. The more we think we have it, the less we have. So Christ comes and says come to me. “I am the water of life. I promise I will refresh you but open yourself. Open yourself to receive.”
The real trick to get the most sand is to dig with both hands together. You have lots of sand when two hands work together. A closed hand can hold very little water. Two open hands can hold lots of water.
The Lord wants us to do our work together. He wants us to be the Body of Christ, to be people who work together to receive grace. It is not enough that one of us gets saved; we are called to be saved communally. That is what Christ promised when he asked us to be part of this Body of Christ.
That is what we celebrate on Easter Sunday: people who have been willing to become part of the Body of Christ, to become new members of our Church. Each and every one of these new members had to let go of something to be here. Each of them had to open themselves to receive. They had to allow the grace of God to refresh them and pour upon them.
Now we join hands with them and together to receive even more grace. It is not a gift given to us for ourselves alone. The grace that is given to the newly baptized is the grace that has been given to all of us in our Baptism and will continue to be given even more to us each and every time we pour it out to others; it refreshes us and gives us more to pour out onto others. We come with open hands.