Thursday, December 31, 2009
Christ has no hands but ours
The story is told that during World War II, a church building in Strasbourg, France was destroyed by bombings. After the bombing had ceased, the members of the church looked over the damage. In spite of the severe damage they were pleased that a statue of Christ with outstretched hands was still standing. It had been sculpted centuries before by a great artist.
The people discovered, however, that both hands of Christ had been sheered off by a falling beam. Later, a sculptor in the town offered to replace the broken hands as a gift to the church. The church leaders met to consider the offer and, after giving it considerable thought, decided not to accept. They felt the statue without hands would be a great message to everyone that the work of Jesus Christ is often done through His
people. If there are sick, lonely, or hungry people around us, we are the hands the Savior will use to answer those needs.
Several years ago I read this story and loved it. But, being me, I felt that I had to research it and this is some of the information that I found.
There are actually several versions of this same story circulating about: one about a church in England bombed during World War II, another about a cathedral in Germany, a third about a village in France and a forth about a village in Africa.
Further research claims that the story actually originated at a Catholic Church in San Diego, California.
The statue did exist outside the church, but the hands were broken off by vandals around 1980, not by bombing. Instead of repairing the hands, the church decided to put up a plaque at the base that states, "I have no hands but yours." This is a reference to a poem by St. Teresa of Avila that begins:
"Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours." The statue is still there, outside that church, without hands. You can find still find photographs of the statue on the Web.
I don't know the true story of the Statue of Christ without hands, but I love the symbolism in it. I love the fact that the story is told to remind us that it is not enough to pray for Heavenly Father to help someone else. Sometimes we need to answer the prayers ourselves.
I love the quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a second counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: "Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion.... In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair, let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers". ("Happiness, Your Heritage", Ensign, Nov. 2008. 120)
See something around you that Christ needs to take care of today?
He has no hands . . . but ours!