March 11th to 17th: sections 16 to 19

“Jesus came to open my ears to another voice that says, ‘I am your God, I have molded you with my own hands, and I love what I have made.  I love you with a love that has no limits, because I love you as I am loved.  Do not run away from me'”  (p157).

Reading:  Sections 16 to 19, Road to Daybreak

Thank you to each of you – this continues to be a tender and caring group of people, calling each other to draw deeper into the heart of Jesus.  The reading for this week gives us many more opportunities to share, reflect and grow.

1_Henri shares his reflection on how many of us love Jesus, but at the same time have fears about what it will cost to follow Him fully.  Henri is very honest with his list of “I love Jesus, but…” (p147).
a) You are invited to reflect on your own list of fears that hold you back from fully surrendering to Jesus.  You might choose to share some of them:  “I love Jesus, but…”

2_ The story of Jesus calling Mary of Magdala by name touches Henri deeply (John 20:16).  “Jesus knows Mary of Magdala…He knows every part of her heart” (p165).  The realization that “the one who truly knows her truly loves her” speaks to a deep fear of his.  He elaborates Mary’s response: “You who know me so fully, come and be my master.  I do not want to keep you away from any part of myself.  I want you to touch the deepest places of my heart so that I won’t belong to anyone but you” (p165).
a) What is it like to be fully known and fully loved by the Creator of the Universe?
b) Does your heart have the same response as Mary’s?

3_ Henri writes about the miracle of multiplication of fish and bread (John 6:5-9).  This miracle happened when someone rather small gave something rather small to Jesus.  Henri sees the same miracle happening every day in L’Arche.  He concludes “the miracle of the multiplication of bread continues.  It is just a question of having an eye for it” (p171).
a) Have you seen a miracle of multiplication in your life, or around you?  Please share.
b) What “small thing” do you have the opportunity to give to Jesus today, so that He can multiply it?

As always, please do not feel bound by these questions.  There is so much in this section to reflect upon!

Yours sincerely,

Ray and Brynn

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26 Responses to March 11th to 17th: sections 16 to 19

  1. Harry Ford says:

    I found it interesting to walk through Lent on both the personal daily level and with Nouwen as he journeys towards Easter Sunday. His personal experience is still something far different from mine, so I do have to work to try to make the connection. Yet, on page 145, Nouwen says, “I have been busy with countless tasks, yet feeling that nothing is accomplished.” Many days I gone to bed thinking, “much done, nothing accomplished.” On St. Patrick’s day, I went to a seminar about what distracts people from God, and one of the point was the busyness of life….hurry, hurry, hurry. Simon & Garfunkel had the right solution, “Slow down you’re moving too fast, got to make the morning last.” Perhaps the fear of not accomplishing or the opposite of needing to accomplish too much is a great distraction from Jesus. I found Nouwen’s reflections and thoughts on Nicodemus to be interesting and worthy of follow up. Especially meaningful to me, and others probably is “the fear that has prevented me from speaking from the heart and risking rejection.” So true in this social media age.
    Over the years the image of Mary Of Magdala has changed. I wonder how Henri saw her? How does our preconceived ideas about a person affect our relationship to that person or their memory?
    a) What is it like to be fully known and fully loved by the Creator of the Universe?
    I will reframe the question and ask “Do I believe that I am fully known and loved by the creator of the universe?” Do I even believe that this gift can handed freely to me? Over the past few years, I have come to believe that the answer to both questions is, on most days, emphatically yes. And that is a truly liberating revelation.
    Whenever I’ve performed direct service to the poor, I’ve seen it multiplied. Not only in the reaction of those with whom I work, but also those we share our help. It could be as simple as a glass of cold water on a hot day, baking cookies or a cake to celebrate the end of the project, or just a simple “please pray us when you return home.” The connection and the community created lasts beyond the length of the project.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Still on the 16-19 section, and need to quote from page 178 where Henri wrote, “A hard task is given to me—to call the darkness darkness, evil evil, and the demon demon. By remaining vague I can avoid commitment and drift along in the mainstream of our society. But Jesus does not allow me to stay there. He requires a clear choice for truth, light, and life.”

    Jesus, help me be a more transparent witness for you. “But you are…a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

  3. Ray Glennon says:

    Thanks, once again, to each of you for sharing your Lenten journey with us. Your presence in this community is a great blessing that is enhanced by your thoughtful comments and care for each other.

    After reading to the responses to Henri’s reflection “I love Jesus…” I was drawn to consider it more deeply. And then I went to Mass today and the Gospel reading for this Saturday in Lent is the same reading with Nicodemus (Jn 7: 40-53) that Henri referred when he wrote on a Saturday in Lent, 1985. The priest’s homily at Mass today focused on the divisions among those who listened to Jesus and how that can get in the way of following him. They asked themselves, “Who is this man?” and could not agree on an answer. Yet the unsophisticated guards sent by the learned Pharisees realized there was something different about Jesus since, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” We often focus on the differences in the details and those differences get in the way of our acceptance of the truth about Jesus–that he is who he said he is–the way, the truth, and the life, and the Beloved Son of God who has loved us from before we were conceived.

    By focusing on Jesus we arrive at the center of what C.S. Lewis called Mere Christianity. Here is how Pope Francis states it in his letter The Joy of the Gospel: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; now he is living by your side every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free you.” It is this First Proclamation that we are to bring to the world. But will I?

    In honesty, all that is easy to write to this caring group sharing our Lenten journey together. It is far more difficult, as Henri attests, to share my love of Jesus in the secular world. My consolation is that sharing my love and experience of Jesus in safe spaces and among friends (like this one), I’m able to practice and benefit from learning from others that are trying to do the same thing. It seems to me that this is one reason that Henri so often emphasizes the importance of community to the Christian life. Then, strengthened by community, we are sent out to share the good news that Jesus is Lord!

    Peace and all good,

  4. Linda C. says:

    On page 149 , March 17th, Henri makes a covenant retreat with L’Arche assistants. Today our new Bishop said mass at a local hospital chapel for all the Eucharistic (Communion) Ministers who volunteer their time, talent, and resources to patients, family members, and staff. I couldn’t help but reflect on the bond that Henri had with handicapped people. I have a bond with the female inmates and hospital patients, family members and staff that I embrace during the week. I may not be in jail or prison or sick in the hospital but I too have a bond with these “Poor” brothers and sisters. They reveal to me my own “Poverty”. As Dorothy Day, one of my mentors, once said ” These poor have become the way for me to meet God”. We are all called to be with the poor in our families, work, and local community so they can teach us how to become “poor” in the eyes of our God.

  5. Gretchen Saari says:

    This is my challenge this week….I love you Jesus but I am in New Orleans with two girl friends who are friends from church but NOT inclined to meditate. So, I decided not to say I love you Jesus but I’m on a trip right now. I am going to stay with the study this week.

    For some reason the wisdom on unity struck me …..God creates the unity. I can listen and look for spaces, trust in God’s power as He is creating unity.

    New Orleans to me has lots of darkness in it. I am going to look for light here.

    • Marge says:

      May Christ-Light within you, shine forth, Gretchen, as you walk, talk, share New Orleans with your friends! Enjoy, be blessed, praying for “spiritual companionship”, unity among the 3 of you, may others you come in contact with be aware, see and embrace for themselves, the Light that the world cannot overcome…..

      • Linda C. says:

        I agree with Marge. You are the light that God has called to bring to the darkness wherever you go. Peace on your journey.

  6. Marge says:

    Days are full, so grateful I can come to this site, read along with others, discover with others what God is about doing in our lives.

    I love Jesus but…like Nouwen I fear…speaking from my heart, risking rejection…p. 148
    I love Jesus but….the call to become poor, not just serve the poor…p.149…..reminds me of the vulnerability that Jesus most revealed upon the cross, the expections of those watching..”They expected to see human greatness, and they saw human vulnerability.”

    P. 153..the contrast…”Satan divides, pulls apart, fragments, and disrupts. Jesus unites, reconciles, heals, and restores.”…….Watching for this as my church moves through a transitional year of discovering together who we are and why we are….Sometimes, “despair seems an attractive choice, solving everything in the negative.”, I find myself “returning to Jesus in hope”..p.157 Thus the contrast of “the difference between individual heroism and communal obedience” p.154 resonates…..communal is hard work, but praise be to God it is God’s work through the vulnerable, passion, body of Christ Jesus! Grateful…moving towards daybreak!

  7. chuck says:

    1) i love Jesus but i fear i am not gentle enough. i love Jesus but i fear i am not patient enough. i love Jesus but do not speak up enough about his Kingdom
    2) Seeing God as master is appealing . my Lord for whom i serve. surrendering myself to the Master makes my burden light . yet, empowering. i know what the Master can and does accomplish.
    3) the little flower. little is big. we may or may not see it. daily acts of kindness , prompting of Mercy , gentle words, being an advocate, praying for others , joyful service may all go a long way to building his Kingdom. recognizing this things in others and ourselves and giving Gratitude to God allows this to grow and sustain . it is Jesus alive and in our midst through the Holy Spirit.

  8. Jo says:

    Once again I’m deeply touched by Henri’s humility. The openness in writing
    about his feelings and failures in relationships is absolutely amazing.
    He writes in a book what most would write in a personal journal. His expectations
    and disappointments are registered in all of us but do we admit them? It’s
    maybe one of his greatest gifts and something that is most encouraging when
    we think of our own disappointments in life. Henri is so lovable in his
    neurotic state – a place that was a cross all his life.
    Henri lived a chaste life dealing with his sexuality on the basis of his
    relationship with His Lord. He suffered but got up again and started over.

    • Ann Scafe says:

      Jo, you have expressed my exact sentiment. When I read one of Henry’s books I feel closely connected because thru him I know and love God more.

  9. Jo says:

    I love Jesus, but … 1) I think if Jesus sees me as fully surrendering my husband to Him..he’ll take him. The same thing with my sons. Just writing this is ludicrous.
    I don’t believe Jesus is like that & I think it comes from losing my dad at 4 yrs old.

    2) To be fully known and fully loved by the Creator of the Universe is exhilerating! It’s a deep sense of freedom that nobody can take away. There’s a sense of belonging that nobody can destroy. It’s knowing that I’m made by God and belong to Him and He takes delight in me.

    Yes, my heart has the same response as Mary’s.

    Yes, I have seen a multiplication in my life. e.g. There are so many people I meet and when I reach out to them while shopping or going about my day, I bring to them the love I live with in daily life and see in their faces happiness in being
    acknowledged respectfully. This happens wherever I go.

    b) I give Him my family. Each gesture done unselfishly brings more freedom to them and acceptance of the goodness within themselves.

  10. Patrice Donnelly says:

    To be known and loved by God as Mary was, is a very moving part of our spiritual lives. We can better understand ourselves through God’s love, forgiveness, and guidance. This love helps us develop purpose in our lives. It gives us courage and resilience. However, as Henri has mentioned previously, it is not possible to expect this depth of love from all we meet in our lives. We might desire this depth of love from some, but it always falls short in some way causing us to reach into the depths of ourselves and draw forgiveness from our reservoir of God’s love. One way to face this disappkingment is to recognize it as helping us on our own journey, that is if we respond with God’s love and grace. In to as of disappointment, reflection and prayer can help fill our tank, so to speak. I think of this proactively, but also sometimes reactively, after I see something fail from my own efforts or lack thereof. Without excuse yet with care and concern, I try to set things right after a brief moment alone with my thoughts, reflections, and prayer. Proactively, God’s live can help us avoid disappointment. In either case it is useful and nourishing to know God’s love.

    I love Jesus, but I respect deeply the right of each individual to find God as he or she is called, in any or no religion. I find this to be useful in most cases, but not all. Does this ever lead to a failure to act? Yes, because communication can sometimes require `translating` into another person’s spiritual language or jargon, if you will, which can seem cumbersome at times. Mostly, I embrace the challenge, but it requires time and energy. I love Jesus and, as humbling as this is, Jesus loves me. We all need to wrap ourselves in that thought from time to time.

  11. Beverly says:

    I’m struck by Henri’s entry entitled “Small People and Small Things” (170). Reflecting on the story of the loaves and the fishes, Jesus believed “the small gifts of an insignificant boy were enough to feed everyone.” Henri contrasts this to today’s world where we want bigger and better: “we want things to be large, big, impressive and elaborate.” I’ve been pulled between these two ways in my life. Wanting life to be large and impressive, while at the same time experiencing the deepest satisfaction in the smallest things.

    Because the transition in my life is large, I’m surprised by sustaining joy in small things. This week I had a comforting conversation with a college room mate whose question kept me steady when I was sad. My spirit was lifted simply sitting in a salon having my feet washed and pedicured. I was thrilled to hear from a distant friend who thrived through stage four cancer and will come for coffee and conversation this Sunday.

    Though my life feels flooded at times with tumultuous waves of emotion, I find myself anchored by the small things. So, the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes continues…giving deep satisfaction through seemingly insignificant encounters. Henri says seeing is all, “its just a question of having an eye for it” (171).

    • Gretchen Saari says:

      Thank you Beverly! I deal with tumultuous emotions and have not valued the many many many small things. I am going to value these gifts from God.

  12. Elaine M says:

    The miracle of multiplication of bread in my life:
    –hundreds of people gathering on a Saturday morning to walk in support of
    children with Rett Syndrome—Each one made a difference.

    –a whole elementary school working together to provide books for children who
    lost their school and library in a hurricane—Each one made a difference.

    –a crew of teenage volunteers scraping and repainting a house for an indigent
    80-year-old homeowner on a fixed income—Each one made a difference.

    –a church member who buys up packets of grocery store gift cards and offers them to customers who are caught short in the check-out line—Each and every card honored a person’s dignity and met an essential need.

    –the many notes of sympathy I received after the sudden death of my sister—Each one made a difference.

    –the blessings of a multitude of “Sabbath moments”: finding God in a sunrise, a field of lupine, a herd of elk, a hug, a thank you, a child’s gift of a crayon drawing—Each one makes a difference if I just stop and recognize the moment for the sacramental that it is.

    • Patrice Donnelly says:

      Every beautiful thing or event, particularly the small things, is something we bring to our hearts through our senses. The smaller, the more intimate and meaningful on a personal level. Once we receive a gift of some type of beauty, such as a beautiful action, kind word, work of art, for example, we instantly ‘light up’ spiritually (metaphorically speaking). Others receive that spiritual light through our subsequent kind words and deed. And so there is a ripple effect. We all experience this and think it In a nice. We can also recognize it as God’s love.

  13. Liz Forest says:

    In Henri’s reflection on the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes he says “what little we give away multiplies.” (P. 170-171) To have an eye for the small gifts of God is a gift indeed. When leaving the laundromat, I make a point of stopping to thank the manager for taking care of the place. This time he must have really needed that little bit of appreciation. He followed me to the door, holding it open to make my exit easy. How often we pass up these little ways to spread grace.

  14. Marianne says:

    I love Jesus but I still want to be popular – at work, at church and with friends. I love Jesus but don’t want to leave our cozy nest here in Lacombe. I hope what I do is good enough for Christ. If The devil can’t make you bad, he makes you busy. I try not to be so busy so that I do have time for random acts of kindness.
    2. It is very humbling that the creator of the Universe made me. It’s easy to see all the perfect things in Nature, just hard to believe I’m in the same category. It gives me more faith in myself to think that I am Gods creation.
    3. It seems like everything I have to offer is small however I have the gift of music and I share it at church but also in a community jazz band. We share our home with family and friends when we can. This is a small sacrifice but helps us honour our mothers who like to get the family together. We enjoy it too but there is work involved.

  15. melanie says:

    There is so much I am taking in from my morning readings. In this moment I am simply so grateful for the strong consistent message of coming to Jesus for friendship and solace. I connected to the section “running away or returning”. I feel like I have had a lifetime of living that way towards my faith. I am asking for a newfound maturity and humility to always move toward and return to Christ on a daily basis. I am grateful for the message ” I love you, I love you, I love you” that is always there. Henri reminds me that ” a true relationship is hard work because loving is hard work, with many tears and many smiles. But it is God’s work and worth every part of it”.

    • David Brown says:

      thank you so much for your thought. Mornings with Jesus,through prayer , silence, adoration scripture etc brings us such joy.Henri constantly sought a deeper prayer life as a main goal of the spiritual life. Thx again for the inspiring thought. David

  16. David Brown says:

    1. It is a humbling question Henri openly brings to our attention.”I love Jesus but. . . I don’t understand unanswered pray to prevent t my 12 yr. old sister’s tragic death in 75, the loss of my 4 children through being deserted in an unwanted and undeserved divorce in 88, serving the church for 40 yrs. as a Pastor and upon retirement converting to another church which my wife refuses to support or attend in any way and now I attend the church of my dreams alone despite urgent prayer, I love Jesus but often fear–health issues at 68, my own mortality and the unknown future instead of fully trusting Jesus, I love Jesus but cannot reach complete obedience in every area of my life especially my thought life. I love Jesus but sometimes feel alone and rarely receive any attention, calls or visits from my 4 adult children though I always showed my love an attention and asked Jesus to change their disinterest in me as their Dad

    • Elizabeth says:

      David, my husband and I have been there. I hear you and I think others do also.
      The book of Lamentations is in the Bible for this reason!

      In the middle is the section that I’ve memorized so it will always be with me, just as Jesus promised. I’ve waited 35 to 40 years for some prayers to be answered, and there were 4 of them answered in the past three months. So here it is, Lamentations 3:21-25:

      “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
      The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
      They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
      The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.”
      The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

      • David Brown says:

        Thx Elizabeth,
        I will reflect on the scripture. Thank you for taking time to respond. I tend to be too open sometimes, assuming persons who don’t know me will in some way understand what I’m trying to say. We are all wounded healers and we are all broken and chosen and we are all Beloved. Nouwen.Thx,

    • Patrice Donnelly says:

      Through loss we learn that God isn’t necessarily punishing us or failing to listen to us. We are not failing to pray properly when our appeals to unanswered. What we are deeply asking, and perhaps not always conscious of, is only for God to continue loving us despite our sorrows, inadequacies, and mistakes which are human made. We meet evil, whether we seek it or not, and evil wins from time to time, yet God loves us. I sometimes wonder if we will be judged not by our tally of merits and demerits, but by our ability to share God’s love (although a tally might be useful!) First we have to find it in ourselves. It is not a magic pill to cure all fears. We still have to face reality, and reality is not always easy. But it helps us keep going. Does this ring true in any way to you? I am sorry to hear about your kids. We don’t have any children, but we find the love of children comforting in other ways, through teaching and being there for extended family. So even though we don’t have the same difficulty, I think I can understand this loss. I would keep praying for relief, while also recognizing God’s love. Relief from this loss would be wonderful.

      • David Brown says:

        I am seeking the bridge of obedience, acceptance and faith for change. Have asked for intercession of St. Rita St. Jude and other saints who are said to be able to assist impossible situations. I was answering the question Ray asked us to respond to. I continue to follow the Nowens model of putting our “curses under a blessing” which Nouwen mentioned in Life of the Beloved. yet Nouwen often admitts his woundedness along with being a wounded healer.

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