Tying Jesus’ hands

The Gospel of Mark has this remarkable sentence about Jesus: “He was not able to perform any mighty deed there (Nazareth) . . . he was amazed at their lack of faith.” Mk 6:6.

What’s amazing to me is not Jesus’ “unwillingness” to work his plan because of lack of faith. I can imagine Jesus with hurt feelings saying “Fine, you put no faith in me so I’m not going to lift a finger for you.”

No, it’s not Jesus “refusing” to help; it’s Jesus “unable” to help. His hands are tied! The citizens of Nazareth, his home town, have made it impossible for Jesus to do as he had planned. What a powerful force the lack of faith is – – it binds even the hands of God.

Picture going to your friend’s house as a kid to ask his mom if Billy can come out to play. “Leave me alone. Go away”, Billy says from inside. Suddenly everything is changed. You’ve just lost your playmate.

You can’t “make” Billy play. That goes against the nature of playing. You have to want to play for it to be “play”! So, Jesus had to walk away. The home game was cancelled. From then on Jesus played away games. (The big one being in Jerusalem.)

So, what is the lesson for us? It’s simple. The power of God’s grace working in our lives can only come about if we want it to. God will never force his will on ours. That’s not how love behaves. Remember how God approached Mary through the Angel Gabriel? God wanted to have a child with Mary but, like any honorable suitor, he had to seek her permission. “Let it be done.” Mary said.

Remember that terrible moment in the Garden of Gethsemani? Jesus feared what God’s will might be (“Let this cup pass me by,” he said). After wrestling throughout the night with the deepest fears of the human heart, Jesus said “Let Thy will be done”.

So, it’s a letting go of our own will while trusting the wisdom of God’s. Or perhaps, better stated, it is “submitting” our will to that of God’s. As if we were saying to God, “Lord, here’s what I think I should do.” Or “Lord, here’s what I hope you would do for such and such.” “But Lord, you know better than I, so, whatever you decide that’s what I want too.”

That’s when God’s hands are untied. Finally, we bring to him a heart that is willing to receive his grace, his wisdom, his peace.
Can you think of a time when you gave over your will to God, letting him have a free hand in moving you to a particular action?

Some time ago it was my intention to remove my name from candidates to serve on a priestly committee until a wise friend of mine said, “Horan, if God wants to ignore you he’ll ignore you. They’ll pick somebody else. But, don’t you go tying God’s hands if he wants you to play.” So I left my name in . . . and God let that cup pass!

Did you see God this week?

Fr. Tim



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