Day 16 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

Day 16

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

Now Jesus is no longer overcome by anguish. He stands in front of his enemies with great dignity and inner freedom. He holds his cup filled with sorrow but with joy too. It is the joy of knowing that what he is about to undergo is the will of his Father and will lead him to the fulfillment of his mission. The Evangelist John shows us the enormous power that emanates from Jesus. He writes: “Knowing everything that was to happen to him, Jesus came forward and said [to Judas and the cohort]: ‘Who are you looking for?’ They answered, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said, ‘I am he.’. . . When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,’ they moved back and fell on the ground” (John 18:4-6).

Jesus’ unconditional yes to his Father had empowered him to drink his cup, not in passive resignation but with the full knowledge that the hour of his death would also be the hour of his glory. His yes made his surrender a creative act, an act that could bear much fruit. His yes took away the fatality of the interruption of his ministry. Instead of a final irrevocable end, his death became the beginning of a new life. indeed, his yes enabled him to trust fully in the rich harvest the dying grain would yield.

Joys are hidden in sorrows! I know this from my own times of depression. I know it from living with people with mental handicaps. I know it from looking into the eyes of patients, and from being with the poorest of the poor. We keep forgetting this truth and become overwhelmed by our own darkness. We easily lose sight of our joys and speak of our sorrows as the only reality there is.

We need to remind each other that the cup of sorrow is also the cup of joy, that precisely what causes us sadness can become the fertile ground for gladness. Indeed, we need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it.

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