Lent readings from Henri Nouwen Society (2)

Reflection for  Fifth Sunday of Lent – Unconditional Love

Excerpt from Home Tonight: Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Copyright © 2009 by The Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust. Published by Doubleday. Psalm 92:1-2 from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

When we freely allow fear to dominate and change us, we live in misery far from our home of unconditional love.

Meanwhile Jesus, our example, says to the disciples and to us, “Don’t be afraid. Perfect love casts out fear.” He walked freely, lived freely, and carried on an intimate relationship with the One who sent him into the world.

Throughout the nights or early mornings Jesus spent time communing with the One who loved him. Among his last words he tells us, “As the Father has loved me, so I also love you. . . . If you keep my word, the Father and I will come to you and we will make our home in you. . . . I will send you my Spirit, who will dwell with you forever, and will remind you of all I have said to you.”

Jesus came to convince us that Our Maker’s love is pure gift, unearned and free.

We are free to relate with the Source of all life or not. A great love embraces all the love that you and I have ever known, from father, mother, spouses, brothers, sisters, children, teachers, friends, partners, or counsellors.
Welcoming unconditional love automatically makes us more like the Unconditional Lover. Divine love lasts forever.

 

Reflection for  Sixth Sunday of Lent – The Path of Waiting

Excerpt from Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit. Copyright © 2001 The Estate of Henri J.M. Nouwen. Published by The Crossroad Publishing Company. Scripture quotation is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Passion is a kind of waiting – waiting for what other people are going to do. Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say “Yes” or “No”. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: he had to wait for their response. What would they do? Betray him or follow him

In a way, his agony is not simply the agony of approaching death. It is also the agony of being out of control and of having to wait. It is the agony of a God who depends on us to decide how to live out the divine presence among us. It is the agony of the God who, in a very mysterious way, allows us to decide how God will be God. Here we glimpse the mystery of God’s incarnation. God became human not only to act among us but also to be the recipient of our responses.

. . . And that is the mystery of Jesus’ love. Jesus in his passion is the one who waits for our response. Precisely in that waiting the intensity of his love and God’s is revealed to us.

 

Reflection for  Easter Sunday – Rays of Hope
Excerpt from A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee, (Easter Sunday, April 15, 1979), Copyright © 1981 Henri J.M. Nouwen. Published by Doubleday. Used with kind permission of the publisher. 
Dear Lord, risen Lord, light of the world, to you be all praise and glory! This day, so full of your presence, your joy, your peace, is indeed your day.

I just returned from a walk through the dark woods. It was cool and windy, but everything spoke of you. Everything: the clouds, the trees, the wet grass, the valley with its distant lights, the sound of the wind. They all spoke of your resurrection; they all made me aware that everything is indeed good. In you all is created good, and by you all creation is renewed and brought to an even greater glory than it possessed at its beginning.

As I walked through the dark woods at the end of this day, full of intimate joy, I heard you call Mary Magdalene by her name and heard how you called from the shore of the lake to your friends to throw out their nets. I also saw you entering the closed room where your disciples were gathered in fear. I saw you appearing on the mountain and at the outskirts of the village. How intimate these events really are. They are like special favors to dear friends. They were not done to impress or overwhelm anyone, but simply to show that your love is stronger than death.

O Lord, I know now that it is in silence, in a quiet moment, in a forgotten corner that you will meet me, call me by name and speak to me a word of peace. It is in my stillest hour that you become the risen Lord to me.

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for all you have given me this past week. Stay with me in the days to come. Bless all who suffer in this world and bring peace to your people, whom you loved so much that you gave your life for them. Amen.

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