Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Volume of our Actions

I'm reading a book by Henri Nouwen called The Return of the Prodigal Son. I just started it yesterday, so I'm still in the Introduction.

Nouwen spent a year trying to discern if he should leave the work he was doing with university students, and move to a community called L'Arche: a place that "offers a home to people with mental handicaps." His discernment told him that, yes, this is what God was calling him to do. Even so, as he made the move, he faced it with trepidation.  He wrote, "I knew even less about announcing the Gospel of Jesus to people who listened more with their hearts than with their minds, and who were far more sensitive to what I lived that to what I said."

As I read that and stopped, struck by the words. I see what he's saying, but I think it is more widely applicable that L'Arche.  

We may think we listen with our minds, but don't you think we listen with our hearts? Even when we don't admit it? Aren't we all more sensitive to how others live than we are to what they say?

And, as a corollary, as we work to reach people with the light of Christ, don't we need to remember that what we say, while it can be important, isn't all that people hear? They hear (as they watch us) what we do. They "hear" how we treat other people - even as we say we love them.

Hypocrisy negates our words of faith because it speaks so loudly. 

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