ONLINE REFLECTION, ST. PAUL’S, FOLEY
SEPTEMBER 20, 2020
Collect for Proper 20 – 16th Sunday after Pentecost
Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Roman Catholic priest who was a prolific writer during his lifetime. His books, such as The Return of the Prodigal Son and Life of the Beloved, are remembered very fondly.
He died 24 years ago on Monday. His last years were spent in the L’Arche Community – a group that served handicapped individuals. It was an outgrowth of his deep spirituality that focused especially on pastoral matters, spirituality, psychology, and theology. He had a profound impact on lay and ordained people during his life.
I am reminded today of one of his works: The Wounded Healer. Like all of his books, it is fairly brief but very deep. His primary point in the book is that, as Christians, we minister to others most meaningfully not out of our strength, but out of our woundedness. Our wounds, our hurts, our losses, help us to be more caring, more insightful, and more empathetic in ministering to those who suffer similar wounds.
It is a topic that the contemplative priest, Richard Rohr, has focused on this week in his daily meditations. The image is that it is through his wounds that Jesus Christ is available to all of us. Literally, his open arms on the cross embrace the entire world. Without the cross, we would not be.
By events of the last week, all of us have sustained wounds of some sort. Some of our losses are major, others are less so. But, it is by those wounds that we are enabled –indeed called – to reach out and care for one another, and the community around us.
That is a silver lining in this whole traumatic chapter of life. We are called to find God’s redemptive power in all this destruction which surrounds us. If so, we have learned the lesson – and fully incorporated it – into our lives and our relationship with others.
Nothing is total loss in God’s economy.
Henri Nouwen’s insights and life lessons live on.