“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
These words from Isaiah 41:10 appeared on my phone screen the day of graduation, sent by a dear friend. We were all nervous. Graduation, at our all-girls school, was about more than merely receiving a diploma. The curtsy, dear readers, was everything.
When we processed to the stage on graduation day, a 140-year tradition established the need for this curtsy. Since freshman year, we had anticipated it. We had practiced for days, all 209 names read time and time again. The smell of sunscreen heavy in the air, we had each curtsied without end beneath the scorching Texas sun.
We must not trip, we were advised. In white dresses, with right hand outstretched, we would present ourselves as the flawless, graceful product of four years’ hard work.
On graduation day, I had no doubt I would face plant. Gracefulness isn’t exactly my forte…To make matters worse, it was pouring upon our outdoor stage.
“God will uphold my right hand,” I repeated. “He’s going to help me curtsy.” Isaiah 41:10 was such a wonderful comfort to hold in my heart… but it didn’t ease my fears for long. “IT IS RAINING. There’s only so much God can do. If I go down in front of 2,000 people, no metaphorical hand is going to help.”
ANYTHING BUT A METAPHOR
As I approached the slick stage on graduation day, I noticed something. There, in front of the ramp, was one of my teachers. A last-minute addition, he was there to hold our right hands, guiding us each up the ramp to ensure we did not slip before our curtsy.
And not only was he my teacher; he was a mentor, an inspiration in my faith life, and someone from whom I had often sought theological advice. How fitting, then, that he was there that evening to make physical God’s promise to uphold my right hand — and the right hand of each member of my beloved class.
When God makes promises, I learned, it’s anything but a metaphor.
LOVE MADE TANGIBLE
Christ tells us He will be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). Sure, He is referring to His presence in the Eucharist, the Spirit within us, and the Sacraments. But I think another presence He is speaking of is often forgotten: one another.
As St. Teresa of Avila points out, “Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours.” For this reason, it is up to us to make God’s love tangible.
Each and every Christian is a witness. A witness has a responsibility to share what he or she has seen in order to illuminate the truth.
Christianity is not an ideology we keep within ourselves; rather, it is a beacon of light to be shared with all humanity.
The time for Christ’s physical manifestation as a human has come and gone. He no longer has a body on earth, but now we witness an even greater miracle. We are His Body. Christ lives within each and every one of us, every day.
A HOLY DWELLING PLACE
Christ promises to comfort us amid affliction (Matthew 11:28-30), to be our light, our salvation, the stronghold of our life (Psalm 27:1), and to make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). He can do this and more for His beloved children… but He needs our help. If we ignore His will, of course it will be difficult to see the graces He promises us.
We are temples for the Holy Spirit. We are members of Christ’s Body. The moment we recognize our potential as such, we begin upon a journey of bringing Christ to those in need through all we say and do.
As Christians, our life reflects upon He who sent us. Christ promises to hold up our right hand when we grow anxious. But He can’t do it without you, His disciple.
What a wonderful world we would live in if each person recognized his calling to make tangible the Word of God. So, let it begin with us. Let us unleash the light of the Spirit burning in our soul. Let us proclaim with joy what we have witnessed. Let us make Christ visible, whether we do so by holding another’s hand on their walk to Christ or on their walk to a slick graduation stage.