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  • Immersed in Christ

Immersed in Christ: Saturday, June 5, 2021

The Five Finger Prayer

1. The thumb is the key to grasping anything: without it we can’t use our hand as it was made to be used. So, use the thumb to remind you that Jesus is the key to everything you do. Unless you involve him, interact with him, you won’t be able to do anything as you should. The thumb reminds us that to be an authentic Christian, the “rule of thumb” that we should use in every decision is the teaching and example of Jesus the Savior.

2. The next finger is the index finger, the pointing finger. Remember that Jesus is the one who points the way. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And reflecting and praying over the Word of God, Scripture, is the principal way to get direction from him. So the second step toward being a complete Christian is to become a Disciple, a Christian who not only accepts Jesus as Savior but uses him as Teacher. A disciple is a student, a learner, someone who lives a life characterized by reflection on the message of Jesus. The second finger reminds us that Jesus is the one who points the way, and he does it primarily by preparing us to receive the inspirations of the Holy Spirit through reflection on the Scripture.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of leaders. It reminds us that each one of us is called to “stand tall” as a Christian — not out of pride, but with the humility of those who simply stand up for what they believe in because this is their duty; this is what they were consecrated by Baptism to do. If we stand up for what Jesus teaches us — for his values, his truth — we will stand tall, because his values are the highest. We will also stand alone in many cases, because not everyone accepts his values. This is what it means to be a Prophet: one who “professes” faith in Jesus, not through words only, but through actions. To be a prophet is to ask in everything we do, not just whether it is right or wrong, but whether it bears witness to the values of Jesus.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Automatically we think of wedding rings and of committed, lifegiving love. As Christians we are members of the body of Christ who gave his flesh for the life of the world. Jesus the Priest offered himself to everyone: not only on the cross, but at every moment of his life, in the constant ministry of trying to nurture people, and nurture the divine life of God in them, by his every word, gesture and action. Because we are “in Christ” we are also “priests in the Priest” and “victim in the Victim.” We “offered our bodies as a living sacrifice to God” at Baptism (Romans 12:1). We gave our flesh to be the body of Christ. Wherever our living bodies are, we are “sacrificed” to doing God’s will so that Jesus might act with us, in us and through us to give his life to the world. In practice, the key to this is simply to be loving to every person we meet. This is ministry; this is sacrifice; this is priesthood; this is to “give our flesh for the life of the world.”

Surprising to many is the fact that the ring finger is also our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us that Jesus did not save the world through power and force, but through love and the apparent weakness of letting himself be defeated and killed on the cross. Love is his power. Letting him love in us and through us is our power. To do this is to be united with Jesus the Priest.

5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all, which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you." To be the least of all is to be the servant of all. We serve others as the servants of Christ. We are his servants; but we are responsible servants. He has made us responsible for establishing the reign of God over every area and activity of human life on earth. We are stewards of his kingship, whom “the master has put in charge of his household, to give to others their allowance of food at the proper time” (Matthew 24:45). As such we are to be the least of all, not seeking any special prestige, but we must take responsibility for our master’s business. This means we must keep trying to bring about prosperity, peace and justice on earth — for everyone. We must keep trying to transform society as stewards of the reign of God.

(This is a brief summary of the book Reaching Jesus — Five Steps to a Fuller Life, by David Knight, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998. This summary was inspired by an email entitled “Five fingers of prayer” from Nathan & Amanda Gogel, which I received from David Stipp).

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