henri nouwen: being living signs of love

Jesus’ whole life was a witness to his Father’s love, and Jesus calls his followers to carry on that witness in his Name. We, as followers of Jesus, are sent into this world to be visible signs of God’s unconditional love. Thus we are not first of all judged by what we say but by what we live. When people say of us: “See how they love one another,” they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced and are drawn to it as by a magnet.

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.

daily devotion: “of all the persons we had harmed”

 . . and became willing to make amends to them all.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 77

One of the key words in the Eighth Step is the word all. I am not free to select a few names for the list and to disregard others. It is a list of all persons I have harmed. I can see immediately that this Step entails forgiveness because if I’m not willing to forgive someone, there is little chance I will place his name on the list. Before I placed the first name on my list, I said a little prayer: “I forgive anyone and everyone who has ever harmed me at any time and under any circumstances.”It is well for me to contemplate a small, but very significant, two-letter word every time the Lord’s Prayer is said. The word is as. I ask, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In this case, as means, “in the same manner.” I am asking to be forgiven in the same manner that I forgive others. As I say this portion of the prayer, if I am harboring hatred or resentment, I am inviting more resentment, when I should be calling on the spirit of forgiveness.