Day 08 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

Day 08

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

But what is our sorrow in a little community in Canada, compared with the sorrow of the city, the country, and the world? What about the sorrow of the homeless people asking for money on the streets of Toronto, what about the young men and women dying of AIDS, what about the thousands who live in prisons, mental hospitals, and nursing homes? What about the broken families, the unemployed, and the countless disabled men and women who have no safe place such as Daybreak?

And when I look beyond the boundaries of my own city and country, the picture of sorrow becomes even more frightening. I see parentless children roaming the streets of Sao Paulo like packs of wolves. I see young boys and girls being sold as prostitutes in Bangkok. I see the emaciated prisoners of war in the camps of former Yugoslavia. I see the naked bodies of people in Ethiopia and Somalia wandering aimlessly in the eroded desert. I see millions of lonely, starving faces all over the world, and large piles of the dead bodies of people killed in cruel wars and ethnic conflicts. Whose cup is this? It is our cup, the cup of human suffering. For each of us our sorrows are deeply personal. For all of us our sorrows, too, are universal.

Now I look at the man of sorrows. He hangs on a cross with outstretched arms. It is Jesus, condemned by Pontius Pilate, crucified by Roman soldiers, and ridiculed by Jews and Gentiles alike. But it is also us, the whole human race, people of all times and all places, uprooted from the earth ‘ as a spectacle of agony for the entire universe to watch. “When I am lifted up from the earth,” Jesus said, “I shall draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). Jesus, the man of sorrows, and we, the people of sorrow, hang there between heaven and earth, crying out, “God, our God, why have you forsaken us?”

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