Today I extend my hands towards you…

Yesterday, Our Lady spoke these words to the visionary Mirjana:
Dear children, today I extend my hands towards you. Do not be afraid to accept them. They desire to give you love and peace and to help you in salvation. Therefore, my children, receive them…

In Medjugorje there is a beautiful illustration at the second station of the Joyful Mysteries on the Hill of Apparitions. It shows Our Lady extending her hands as she is greeted by her cousin Elizabeth. Here we see Elizabeth giving her hand – her heart – to Mary and Jesus, while her other hand feels the child in her own womb leap for joy. See how Mary uses both her hands to clasp the offered hand of Elizabeth. Now follow the direction to Mary’s face and see the clasp that holds her veil. Clasps are designed to hold, to join, to keep together.

Hands are expressive of the heart. They can be open or closed, extended or withdrawn. They can give and receive. They can hold or let go. Hands are instruments of action prompted by our heart and our need at a particular time.

When our hand is in the hand of Our Lady, we can rest assured that so also is our heart contained in her Immaculate Heart. Two hearts become one.

Many of the statues in Medjugorje representing the Queen of Peace, show Our Lady with one hand extended and the other on her heart. There is no mistaking that this is an invitation, like yesterday’s message, to accept the love and peace she desires to give each of us.

• Another very powerful example expressing hands and heart can bee seen on the Stations of the Cross inside St James’ church. On two walls are walnut carvings of the Way of the Cross, made by the Italian artist Pino Sacchi. He was 85 years old when he carved the plaques and expressed a desire that they would be his last artistic work. The Stations were commissioned by the Heger family of Switzerland who presented them as a gift to the Medjugorje parish in 1996.

It is at the first Station (Jesus is Condemned to Death), when we look at the hands of Pilate, that a key is presented to unlock the significance of the hands and hearts of the people depicted in the rest of the illustrations. Notice also that the two hands of Jesus never leave the Cross, even when he falls. His hands perform his heart’s desire. The reality is that he is carrying our cross, our sins, out of love, and this is why he can never let go. He has come to save us.

Come, you must set you heart right,
stretch out your hands to him.
Renounce the iniquity that stains your hands,
let no injustice live inside your tents.
Then you may face the world in innocence,
unwavering and free from fear.
You will forget your sufferings,
remember them as waters that have passed away.
Your life, more radiant than the noonday,
will make a dawn of darkness.
Full of hope, you will live secure,
dwelling well and safely guarded.
No one will dare disturb you,
and many a man will seek your favour.
Job 11 : 13-19

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