A Healing Hand

Jesus Heals the Man with a Withered Hand - folio from Walters manuscript W.592 - public domain by Walters Art Museum

“Please pray!” my panicked daughter said. A door at school smashed her four-year-old son’s hand, and he required surgery.

“You can count on it,” I assured her, wishing they lived closer than across the country so I could run right over. I wondered what saint I could ask to pray with me for Preston.

The next morning, the day’s reading was Jesus healing a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1–6).

I put myself into the story and observed Jesus on the Sabbath, just like the Pharisees did. Would Jesus work a miracle? The man with the withered hand walked forward shyly, embarrassed to be the center of attention. My view was obstructed by the grate sectioning off the women’s area. As I contemplated the sights and smells of the synagogue, I wished I could get closer to Jesus and the man.

Just like you want to be near your grandson.

Not a servant girl any more in the scene, I became the grandmother, longing to step forward. The first-century synagogue morphed into a hospital as I prayed for Preston. I could imagine Jesus present with my grandson in the disguise of his doctor.

And it finally dawned on me that the man in the Gospel passage wasn’t an imaginary figure, but a brother in heaven. I could ask him to pray for my grandson! That man’s hand was strong, whole, and no longer withered. “Will you pray for my grandson’s crushed finger and ask Jesus to heal him?” I asked.

“Sure!” he might have replied.

I imagined hearing Jesus say, “Stretch out your hand.” I pictured Jesus, the man from the Gospel, and me standing with Preston.

“What was it like for you when you were healed?” I whispered to the man healed of a withered hand.

“I felt an itchy sensation, and I couldn’t help using my healthy hand to tug at my fingers to settle the tingling. It was as if my fingers re-knit themselves as I rubbed them.”

Having broken my arm more than once, I relate to the tingling sensation under a cast. I smiled and gave thanks to God. I continued praying with the image of Jesus as caring healer.

My grandson came through his surgery with flying colors. Months later his finger is as good as new. I know God is hearing my prayers every day, in jaw-dropping ways. Is God really that amazing: to give me a Gospel of the day that’s perfectly suited to my needs at prayer? Absolutely.

The Gospel doesn’t give the man with a withered hand a name. From now on, I think I’ll call him Preston.

Previous articleExploring the Examen Step-by-Step: Look Toward the Day to Come
Next articleLove in Deed
Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. I had similar situation.
    I am having pain from gallstones for past week. And day of ultrasound was July 23. I happened to come across the Saint of the Day, St Liborius of Le Mans who is the patron saint of those with gallstones.
    Praying for continued healing, discernment of surgery and offering pain for the sake of his sorrowful passion.

  2. “Saint Preston” pray for us! What a unique reflection and full of love and intorspective of a gospel that I have heard many times before. Now when I hear this again I will put myself right beside you…Grand-mom to Grand-mom before Our sweet Jesus and the healing hand of the man now better known as St. Preston. Thank you so much.

  3. This was an excellent example of entering a Reading situation and participating in it. This will help me do the same. Usually I leave it as it is and become a by stander. Thank you

  4. Love this imaginative prayer. You make it seem so easy. Maybe I need to spend more” time” to be reflective.
    Thank you. Happy to hear your prayers were answered.
    I know God seems to answer many of my own prayers. I am truly grateful for this and know I am blessed in so many ways.

  5. Just read this reflection and loved it. So glad Preston is all right. We had the same experience years ago on the morning our son, Kevin, was having his first epilepsy surgery. The gospel that day was Mark 9: 17-29. It is the story of a father asking Jesus to cast out demons from his son who has convulsions. If that wasn’t a direct message to have faith and trust in prayer. At the end, when the disciples asked why they weren’t successful in casting out this demon, Jesus responded, “This kind can only come out with prayer.” We went to the hospital, very confident in the success and safety of his brain surgery.God sends us messages if we only look for them.

  6. St. Raphael the Archangel is the patron of healing. Many lovely prayers available . Any Prayer of course is good. I live in the Parish of St Raphael, so I suppose that is how I come to know . I do have some prayers to him. Plenty online. God Bless. A.M.D.G.

  7. I so look forward to your posts. You draw us into the scene so that we also become part of the picture. We know with God there are no coincidences. Like yourself, I will think of the man with the withered arm as Preston. Blessings to you Loretta.

  8. what a beautiful story. i appreciate how your imaginative prayer is free to flow and “morph.” That shows a lot of trust and grace.

  9. That was just beautiful and a testimony that we can all use for a wonderful example of God’s amazing love & grace for each & every one of us, if only we pray & ask.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here