All posts by Robert Dean

Jean Vanier and the Wounds of Jesus

Earlier today, Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche movement, died at the Maison Médicale Jeanne Garnier in Paris.  The official announcement from L’Arche can be read here and reports from various new agencies are beginning to appear, including that of the CBC here.

One of Vanier’s great contributions was his recognition of the way that we diminish ourselves and dehumanize our neighbours through the attempt to deny our vulnerability.  It is only the love of the Crucified that allows us to receive one another in all of our finitude and woundedness as gifts.  This theme comes to the fore in the following reflection upon the body of the risen Lord in Vanier’s profound set of meditations upon the Gospel of John:

“A gaping hole remains in his side, big enough to fit a hand; a hole remains in his hands and feet big enough to fit a finger.  These wounds are there for all ages and for all time, to reveal the humble and forgiving love of Jesus who accepted to go to the utter end of love.  The risen Jesus does not appear as the powerful one, but as the wounded and forgiving one.

These wounds become his glory.  From the wound in his side flowed the waters that vivify and heal us.  Through his wounds we are healed.

Jesus invites each one of us, through Thomas, to touch not only his wounds, but those wounds in other and in ourselves and can be a sign of separation and division.  These wounds will be transformed into a sign of forgiveness through the love of Jesus and will bring people together in love.  These wounds reveal that we need each other.  These wounds become the place of mutual compassion, of indwelling and of thanksgiving.

We, too, will show our wounds when we are with him in the kingdom, revealing our brokenness and the healing power of Jesus.”1

Many readers of this blog have been both my teachers and students, and sometimes both, in the way of vulnerable discipleship modeled by Vanier.  Feel free to share your thoughts and thanksgivings about the gifts you have received from and through him.

  1. Jean Vanier, Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John (Ottawa: Novalis, 2004), 345-346.

The Grammar of Resurrection: An Easter Sunday Sermon Excerpt

I had the great privilege yesterday of celebrating Easter Sunday with the Church of Pentecost in Winnipeg.  Thank you to Overseer Gabriel Addo-Asante for the invitation to share in the ministry of the Word on the Day of the Resurrection.  Here are a few paragraphs from my sermon on Luke 24: Continue reading The Grammar of Resurrection: An Easter Sunday Sermon Excerpt

Augustine on the Ark of the Church

“God commanded Noah to make an Ark, in which he and his family — that is, his wife, his sons and his sons’ wives —were to be saved from the devastation of the Flood, together with the animals that went into the Ark in accordance with God’s directions.  Without doubt this is a symbol of the City of God on pilgrimage in this world: that is, of the Church which is saved through the wood upon which hung ‘the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’.” (XV.26) 1

  1. Augustine, The City of God against the Pagans, trans. R.W. Dyson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Augustine on the Glorious Wounds of the Martyrs

“I do not know why this is so, but the love we bear for the blessed martyrs makes us desire to see in the kingdom of heaven the marks of the wounds which they received for Christ’s name; and it may be that we shall indeed see them.  For this will not be a deformity, but a badge of honour, and the beauty of their virtue — a beauty which is in the body, but not of the body — will shine forth in it. Continue reading Augustine on the Glorious Wounds of the Martyrs

Augustine on the Two Cities

While the first ten books of The City of God are directed towards addressing the charges of the pagan critics who maintained that Christianity was responsible for the sack of Rome in 410 A.D., in the remaining books (XI-XXII) Augustine directs his attention to the arc of Scripture and the task of narrating the intertwined history of the “two cities.”  The following is one of the central quotes in which Augustine makes clear his understanding of the differentiation between the two cities: Continue reading Augustine on the Two Cities