In this weeks blog, Fr Paddy reflects on the need for us to avoiding holding on so tightly to our possessions, fears and hurts that we become imprisoned.


Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared on 29 July 2009

There is a beautiful story told about a child playing with a vase his mother had left on the table for a few moments. When the mother turned at the sound of her son crying she saw that his hand was in the vase and was apparently stuck. She tried to help him and pulled and pulled until the child cried out in pain. But the hand was stuck fast. How would they get it out?

The father suggested breaking the vase but it was quite valuable and the childs hand might be cut in the process. Yet he knew that if all else failed there would be no alternative. So he said to the boy, Now, lets make one more try. Open your hands and stretch out your fingers out straight, like Im doing, and then pull!

But Dad, said the boy, If I do that I will lose my penny! The boy had a coin in his hand all the time and was holding it securely in his tight little fist. He wasnt prepared to open his hand and loose the penny. But once he opened his hand it came out of the vase easily.

The story, though simple, may well reflect our own lives. Often we can hold on tightly to hurt, fear and memory, that it hinders us to experience freedom and contentment in our adult lives. Many of us at times in our lives may well hold on so tightly to our possessions, fears and hurts that in fact we can become imprisoned. There are many prisoners in all our communities who are confined to a very limited sense of freedom, because of a great struggle in regard to being able to let go.

Jesus Christ is a great liberator and patiently encourages us to let go, so that wee may taste the true sense of human freedom. That vase in the story can well be likened to the entrance of the kingdom of God. It is narrow but quiet easy to pass in, but first we must open our hand to God and allow all that is necessary to leave so that we may be truly unburdened and enjoy true contentment and fulfillment. If we keep our fists closed and hold fast to what we have and keep it for ourselves, we will be unable to take hold of the Hand of God!

We arrived with nothing and will depart the same way.

Jesus once told a story of a rich man who wanted to build bigger barns to store his grains and goods. But God said to him, You fool! This very night your very life will be taken from you. Then you will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

We need to grow in our awareness that the precious things in life are often not at all the material things we possess or indeed the fears and uncertainties that we mat hold on to. Lord gives us a true appreciation for the gift of our health, our families and friendship and the environment where we live. Where our hands may be clenched and our fears imprison us, may we open our hands to the love and healing that comes from our God.