Monday of the First Week in Lent
(Leviticus 19:1-2.11-18; Matthew 25:31-46)
Henri Nouwen was perhaps the most noted spiritual writer in English during the last quarter of the twentieth century. In his final years he often wrote of the community of incapacitated persons and their caregivers in which he lived. In one essay he described his service to an almost helpless youth named Adam who conveyed to him the truth of today’s gospel.
Although there were few alternatives, Adam allowed Nouwen to take care of him. He evidently maintained his composure even when he was in distress. In any event Adam proved himself like Jesus in that in being helped, he brought his helper a “peace that the world cannot give.” The lessons were simple and yet profound. First, Adam revealed to the author, a man of great accomplishment, that what is truly important is a human person’s being not his success. Second, Adam revealed that what makes humans images of God is not the mind that comprehends reality but the heart that can forego preoccupation with self to embrace another in love. Finally, Adam demonstrated the importance of community since, like everyone else, he needed others to survive but in such an intense way that he was unable to hide that truth.
During Lent God invites us to find His Son in others. The more we know suffering people and assist them in their need, the more we will recognize that it is Jesus whom we are care for. In so doing, he lifts us from our own misery to the joy of his company.