October 16, 2021 Essay: God’s Hands
In Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus teaches his disciples that he, the Son of Man, does not determine who will be sitting at his left or right side. He does not choose among his disciples as James and John ask of him. Jesus tells them it is not in his domain, but in God’s hands.
God’s hands. Jesus was both human and divine and yet, he too was in God’s hands. Jesus teaches us that those who gloat in power shall be last. He infers the dance between selfishness vs selflessness is real. Those who wish to be powerful will be a slave to power and have no mercy for God’s people. Yet, those who wish to be great among God’s people will be the servant, the ones who show tenderness and mercy to God’s people. We are all in God’s hands no matter who has the “power” on earth.
There may be times in life where you may wonder, “Where is God in all of this?”
Recently, our country has experienced some devastating natural disasters. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and tropical storms have plagued every part of the United States. Have you thought these natural disasters are in God’s hands? Or are they in humankind’s hands? With global warming encroaching a hazardous outcome on our planet with every passing day, can we avert this? Or is this God’s power over us?
In September, when Hurricane Ida hit New York City, I was attending a late meeting at the church. All our cellphones were buzzing with Flood Alert warnings all over New York City. Since I travel to Bridgeport, CT via Metro-North, I was wondering if I would make it home that night. A kind colleague offered to drive me to Grand Central Station through the torrential downpour. Our shoes were soaking wet as we got in her car and then we slowly navigated 5th Avenue through the blinding rain. I was relieved we reached Grand Central but worried about Holly’s ride back home to the Upper West Side.
The last train to make it out of Grand Central was at 9:06 PM. All trains were suspended due to fallen trees along the track. I waited in the Stamford train and the conductor kept us updated on the events. Finally, the New Haven bound train came in and I went to wait on that train. Updates told us the tree was removed, but now the tracks were flooded. My husband checked in every half-hour to see what was happening and give me updates from the news. I had a lengthy conversation with God that night. I prayed that we all get home safe. It was quite unsettling, yet I placed myself in God’s Hands. You got this…it is out of my hands, I prayed.
Commuters spent the night on the train, and then at 4:30 AM, the announcement blared that we would need to find an alternative way home. I spotted a couple with a Fairfield University bag and approached them about sharing a ride. We finally got an Uber. Ironically, we were all going to Fairfield Metro train station, and we are all Fairfield University alumni! We arrived safely after a few flooding detours by 6:45 am. God’s Hands!
Although my experience was an inconvenient episode due to Hurricane Ida, I was grateful for the dry and safe shelter of the train station. Many others did not have that safety net, yet they too were in God’s hands. God forfeits power to humankind. Those in power have the responsibility to be good stewards of Creation and show tenderness and mercy to God’s people and the environment.
Jesus also did not choose his place among humankind, he was in God’s hands. In Jesus Christ’s suffering and death, God forfeits power. And yet, Jesus was in God’s hands and loving embrace always, just as we are.
– Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate