Day 33 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

Day 33

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

In addition there are our many compulsions. We can feel compelled to act, speak, and even think in one way without being able to choose any other way. When people say: “Be sure you clean the room before you leave it, otherwise he gets raving mad!” or “Whatever she does, she first needs to wash her hands,” we know that we are dealing with compulsive people.

Or Finally, all of us have our obsessions. An idea, a Plan, a hobby can obsess us to such a degree that we become its slave. These addictions, compulsions, and obsessions reveal our entrapments. They show our sinfulness because they take away our freedom as children of God and thus enslave us in a cramped, shrunken world. Sin makes us want to create our own lives according to our desires and wishes, ignoring the cup that is given to us. Sin makes us self-indulgent. St. Paul says: “en self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: sexual vice, impurity, and sensuality, the worship of false gods and sorcery; antagonisms and rivalry, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels, disagreements, factions and malice, drunkenness, or gies and all such things” (Galatians 5:18-21).

Death too entraps us. Death is surrounding us on all sides: the threat of nuclear death; the reality of death caused by the many international, national, and ethnic conflicts; the death resulting from starvation and neglect; the death through abortion and euthanasia; and the death coming from the countless diseases that plague humanity, especially AIDS and cancer. Sooner or later the inevitability of our own deaths will catch up with us. In whatever direction we run, death is there, never leaving us completely alone. Not a day passes in which we are not worried about the health of a family member, a friend, or ourselves. Not a day passes that we aren’t reminded of those snares of death.

Sin and death entrap us. Drinking the cup, as Jesus did, is the way out of that trap. It is the way to salvation. It is a hard way, a painful way, a way we want to avoid at all costs. Often it even seems an impossible way. Still, unless we are willing to drink our cup, real freedom will elude us. This is not only the freedom that comes after we have completely emptied our cup-that is, after we have died. No, this freedom comes to us every time we drink from the cup of life, whether a little or much.

Salvation is not only a goal for the afterlife. Salvation is a reality of every day that we can taste here and now. When I sit down with Adam and help him eat, chat with Bill about our next trip, have coffee with Susanne and breakfast with David, when I embrace Michael, kiss Patsy, or pray with Gordie, salvation is right there. And when we sit together around the low altar table and I offer to all present the glass cup filled with wine, I can announce with great certainty: “This is the cup of salvation.”



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