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.

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