Day 14 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

 

Day 14

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

The cross of San Damiano that spoke to St. Francis of Assisi is a good example. It shows the crucified Jesus as a victorious Jesus. The cross is surrounded by splendid gold; the body of Jesus is a perfect, immaculate hum’ an body; the horizontal beam on which he hangs is painted as the open grave from which Jesus rose; and all those gathered under the cross with Mary and John are full of joy. At the top we can see God’s hand, surrounded by angels, drawing Jesus back into heaven.

This is a resurrection cross, in which we see Jesus lifted up in glory. Jesus’ words “When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself ” (John 12:32) refer not only to his crucifixion but also to his resurrection. Being lifted up means not only being lifted up as the crucified one but also being lifted up as the risen one. It speaks not only about agony but also about ecstasy, not only about sorrow but also about joy.

Jesus makes this very clear when he says: “As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:13-14). What Moses raised in the desert as a standard was a bronze serpent, healing everyone bitten by snakes who looked up at it (Numbers 21:8-9). The cross of Jesus is likewise the standard of healing, not just healing from physical wounds, but healing from the human condition of mortality. The risen Lord draws all people with him into his new and eternal life. Jesus who cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:47) also says in total surrender: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus, who participated fully in all our pain, wants us to participate fully in his joy. Jesus the man of joy wants us to be the people of joy.

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