Wednesday, April 16, 2014

upward and downward glory; a lenten prayer

Lent this year has once again been enriched by reading Henri Nouwen's writings.  Here is an excerpt from the compilation Show me the Way.  It dovetails nicely with a study I have been doing with others on John's Gospel, and thus was particularly meaningful to me.  I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on it.  I hope it will be helpful to you as you prepare for Easter:

I have gradually become aware how central this word "glory" is in John's Gospel.  There is God's glory, the right glory that leads to life.  And there is human glory, the vain glory that leads to death.  All through his Gospel John shows how we are tempted to prefer vain glory over the glory that comes from God. [...]

Human glory, based on competition, leads to rivalry; rivalry carries within it the beginnings of violence; and violence is the way to death.[...]

John shows that God chose to reveal his glory to us in humiliation. [...]  Every time Jesus speaks about being glorified and giving glory, he always refers to his humiliation and death.  It is through the way of the cross that Jesus gives glory to God, receives glory from God, and makes God's glory known to us.  The glory of the resurrection can never be separated from the glory of the cross.  The risen Lord always shows us his wounds.

People seek glory by moving upward.  God reveals his glory by moving downward.

... How can I ever really celebrate Easter 
without observing Lent?
How can I rejoice fully in your resurrection 
when I have avoided participating in your death?
Yes, Lord, I have to die -
with you, through you, and in you -
and thus become ready to recognize you
when you appear to me in your resurrection.
There is so much in me that needs to die:
false attachments, greed and anger,
impatience and stinginess.
O Lord, I am self-centered,
concerned about myself, my career, my future,
my name and future, my name and fame. 
I see clearly how little I have died with you,
really gone your way and been faithful to it.
O Lord, make this Lenten season
different from the other ones.
Let me find you again.

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