This article appeared on Catholic Online
Listen to my homily for Wednesday of the 2nd Week of the Church's Year:
If you have trouble listening click here.
"Then the Priest, with hands extended, says the Collect prayer, at the end of which the people acclaim: Amen."
This is what the rubrics say about the priest at Mass, any time he prays the celebrant prayers like the opening collect, the preface, the closing collect, but most especially when he prays the Eucharistic prayer - he prays with hands extended.
He does so to call to mind the hands that Jesus extended on cross to brings us the gift of redemption. This extending of hands is a sign of priestly prayer.
In the Gospel for today, when Jesus told the man with the withered hand, "Stretch out your hand," he was asking him more than just to follow his instructions for healing. He was asking him before the educated and elite class of Jews, the Pharisees, who were commenting on the Sabbath. The Sabbath for Jews was the day above all the other days of the week for a priestly prayer of the covenant.
Every time we celebrate Mass, the priest is extending his hands in the act of swearing a priestly covenant oath, or sacramentum, to invoke the covenant of God. Jesus telling the man to stretch out his hand is in fact, telling him to live once again in the covenant of the Lord, to be reconciled to living as a member of the priestly people of Israel.
Today Jesus tells Catholics the same thing.
Many Catholics no longer attend Mass. They are not living as the priestly, covenanted people that God has called them to be. As a result, many live withered lives, with hands stretching out not to live the covenant of the Lord, but instead stretching out their hands to deeds of darkness.
We only need think of how many Catholics go along with the vile practices of our day of abortion, euthanasia, same-sex "marriages," and so on. Why?
Where are the bishops and priests who ought to speak about these things, stretching out their episcopal and priestly hands to feed the people of God with the necessary courage and wisdom to live their faith as priestly people in a time when the world desperately needs their witness? Jesus needs to heal his Church, all of it. Don't get me wrong. There are many who do speak out, but they are not the majority. The Bishops and priests have a solemn duty to help the faithful stretch out their hands to what is good and holy.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in Paragraph #1785, "In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path,54 we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church."
Christ working through the Church is eager to help the faithful "stretch out their hands" to what is good, and to be "the light of the world and the salt of the earth" (Cf. Matthew 5:13-16).
May Our Lady intercede for the Church, that a priestly people may once again stretch out their hands to pray for the world, to oppose evil, to do good, and to be holy as God is holy.