success stories

Posted October 23, 2003

Book: Jesus: A Gospel
Author: Henri Nouwen
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, pp. 150

Excerpt from Introduction:

Jesus is the more revered figure in the Western world. His life and his teaching are stamped deeply into the fabric of our psychology and our history. Yet Jesus remains a mystery. There is an empty space for many, perhaps most of us, in that inner place where we are supposed to meet and embrace the Lord of all. Many feel a sense of disappointment when it comes to Jesus; perhaps they just want to “experience more” of the power and presence of the man whom death could not hold.

It is such a common feeling . . .I think most of us can identify with the man in the Gospel who was questioned by Jesus about faith. He answered, “Lord, I have faith. Help my lack of faith!” When it comes to Jesus, we are all very much like that man. We have faith, but we wish we had more. Perhaps we do know Jesus, but we long to know him better.

In any event, we go on. Every once in a while we hear about some place or some situation where God seemed to suddenly make an impact. These stories are inspiring for us, especially since they seem to defy our expectations. The Spirit of Jesus, that holy and fiery wind, suddenly blows where we least expect! But there is a question in our hearts, one that we are usually unwilling to voice: might that wind blow our way and touch us? The answer to this question is, “Yes.”

The way the Spirit touches us may not be so mysertious after all. What the early church called “the good news” was often communicated by one person reaching out to another person. There has always been a place in Christianity for the teacher. We need teachers to bring us closer to God; sometimes that is how the Spirit reaches us and touches us. We need teachers not merely to show us the way we should live, but to explain for us God’s special way of doing things — those faint and far-from-obvious signs that God is caring for us and our world. This is what Nenri Nouwen did — he was a teacher, a man sent from God, and his ministry was to show people like us what God is doing in the world and how we might respond.

Excerpt from Book:

Invitation to Conversion

In our ongoing search for meaning, we need to keep reading books and newspapers in a spiritual way. The question that should always be with us is: “Why are we living?” All the events of our short lives need to be interpreted. Books and newspapers are there to help us to read the signs of the times and so give meaning to our lives. Jesus says: “When you see a cloud looming up in the West you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does. And when the wind is from the South you say it’s going to be hot, and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the face of the earth and sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?”

Here lies the real challenge. Jesus does not look at the events of our times as a series of incidents and accidents that have little to do with us. Jesus sees the political, economic, and social events of our life as signs that call for a spiritual interpretation. They need to be read spiritually! But how? Jesus shows us how. Once the people had told Jesus the news that the governor Pilate had executed some rebellious men from Galilee and mingled their blood with that of Roman sacrifices. When he heard this he said, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others, that this should happen to them? They were not, I tell you. No, but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.” Jesus does not give a political interpretation of the event but a spiritual one. He says: “What happened invites you to conversion!” This is the deepest meaning of history: a constant invitation calling us to turn our hearts to God and so discover the full meaning of our lives.”

Table of Contents:

God’s Was

Spiritual living
God’s hidden way
Descending with Jesus
God and the World

The Gospel Begins

The Annunciation
The Visitation
Baptism and temptation

Reaching Out

Jesus’ preaching in Nazareth
The family of Jesus
Conversation with Nicodemus
A call to friendship
His ministry and ours
A sermon on a mountainside
Who is to blame?
Seeking the kingdom
The prayer of the Pharisee
The rich young man
The loaves and the fishes
The sending of the disciples
Jesus walks upon the sea
Finding meaning in our life and times
The woman at the well
Welcoming the child

Entering the Heart of the Gospel

Peter realizes who Jesus is
Predictions of the Passion
Teaching in parables
Drinking the cup
The raising of Lazarus
Entry into Jerusalem
Washing the disciple’s feet
The Last Supper
Betrayal by one of the twelve
The farewell discourse

For This I Have Come

Prayer in the Garden
The arrest of Jesus
The trial
Jesus is scourged
The road to Golgotha
The Cross of Jesus
Death and darkness

Death and Darkness Are Overcome

Mary Magdala
The appearance by the sea
The encounter of Emmaus
Jesus questions Peter
Others will lead you
All of humanity is included
Spiritual fire
“He will come again”

Jesus, A Gospel

Notes Sources
Index of Biblical Passages