LIVING THE INCARNATION AT L'ARCHE
To Meet the Body is to Meet the Word

April 1987By Henri J.M. Nouwen

The Rev. Henri J.M. Nouwen, a spiritual writer and Contributing Editor of the NOR, is currently a priest-in-residence at Daybreak, the l'Arche community in Toronto. His latest book is Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons.

Ed. Note: During the 1985-1986 academic year, Henri J.M. Nouwen was a priest-in-residence at the l'Arche community in Trosly-Breuil, France (a Catholic/ecumenical community serving disabled persons). This article is the seventh installment in a series of articles reflecting on that year. The series is adapted from his diary.

Saturday, March 15, 1986

The Gospel today reveals that Jesus not only had faithful friends willing to follow Him wherever He went and fierce enemies who couldn't wait to get rid of Him, but also many sympathizers who were attracted but afraid at the same time.

The rich young man loved Jesus, but couldn't give up his wealth to follow Him. Nicodemus admired Jesus, but was afraid to lose the respect of his own colleagues. I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of looking at these fearful sympathizers, because that is the group I find myself mostly gravitating toward. I love Jesus, but want to hold on to my own friends even when they do not lead me closer to Jesus. I love Jesus, but want to hold on to my own independence even when it brings me no real freedom. I love Jesus, but do not want to lose the respect of my professional colleagues even though their respect does not make me grow spiritually. I love Jesus, but do not want to give up my writing, travel, and speaking plans even when they are often more to my glory than God's.

So I am like Nicodemus, who came by night, said safe things about Jesus to his colleagues, and expressed his guilt by bringing to the grave more myrrh and aloes than needed or desired.


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