Monday, March 16, 2009

From Henri Nouwen:

There was nothing spectacular about Jesus' life. Far from it! Even when you look at Jesus' miracles, you find that he did not heal or revive people in order to get publicity. He frequently forbade them even to talk about it. His resurrection too was a hidden event. Only his disciples and a few of the women and men who had known him intimately before his death saw him as the Risen Lord.'s hard for us to believe that Jesus revealed God in hiddenness. But neither Jesus' life nor his death nor his resurrection were intended to astound us with the great glory of God. God became a lowly, hidden, almost invisible God....

That's a mystery which is so difficult to grasp in an age that attaches so much value to publicity. We tend to think that the more people know and talk about something, the more important it must be. That's understandable, considering the fact that great notoriety often means big money, and big money often means a large degree of power, and power easily creates the illusion of importance.

... in our publicity-seeking world, a lot of discussions about God take it as their starting point that even God has to justify himself. People often say: "If that God of yours really exists, then why doesn't he make his omnipotence more visible in this chaotic world of ours?" God is called to account, as it were, and mockingly invited to prove, just for once, that he really does exist. Again you hear someone say: "I've no need whatever for God. I can perfectly well look after myself. As a matter of fact, I have yet to receive any help from God with any of my problems!" The bitterness and sarcasm evident in remarks of this sort show what's expected: that God should at least be concerned with his own popularity. People often talk as though God has as great a need for recognition as we do.

Now look at Jesus, who came to reveal God to us, and you see that popularity in any form is the very thing he avoids. He is constantly pointing out that God reveals himself in secrecy. It sounds very paradoxical, but accepting and, I would venture to say, entering into that paradox sets you on the road of the spiritual life.

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