Day 10 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

Day 10

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

Jesus didn’t throw the cup away in despair. No, he kept it in his hands, willing to drink it to the dregs. This was not a show of willpower, staunch determination, or great heroism. This was a deep spiritual yes to Abba, the lover of his wounded heart.

When I contemplate my own sorrow-filled heart, when I think of my little community of people with mental handicaps and their assistants, when I see the poor of Toronto, and the immense anguish of men, women, and children far and wide on our planet, then I wonder where the great yes has to come from. In my own heart and the hearts of -my fellow people, I hear the loud cry “0 God, if it is possible, let this cup of sorrow pass us by.” I hear it in the voice of the young man with AIDS begging for food on Yonge Street, in the little cries of starving children, in the screams of tortured prisoners, in the angry shouts of those who protest against nuclear proliferation and the destruction of the planet’s ecological balance, and in the endless pleas for justice and peace all over the world. It is a prayer rising up to God not as incense but as a wild flame.
From where then will come that great yes? “Let it be as you, not I will have it ” Who can say yes when the voice of love hasn’t been heard! Who can say yes when there is no Abba to speak to? Who can say yes when there is no moment of consolation?

In the midst of Jesus’ anguished prayer asking his Father to take his cup of sorrow away, there was one moment of consolation. Only the Evangelist Luke mentions it. He says: “Then an angel appeared to him, coming from heaven to give him strength” (Luke 22:43).

In the midst of the sorrows is consolation, in the midst of the darkness is light, in the midst of the despair is hope, in the midst of Babylon is a glimpse of Jerusalem, and in the midst of the army of demons is the consoling angel. The cup of sorrow, inconceivable as it seems, is also the cup of joy. Only when we discover this in our own life can we consider drinking it.

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