Three Gospel Meditations on Jesus
This book, I think, would have been more accurately subtitled, "Three Gospel Conversations with Jesus" — because that's the journey Nouwen takes us on here, three heart-to-heart conversations with Jesus, three close encounters with the Lord whose love for us runs far deeper than we can ever truly begin to conceive.
The book, as Nouwen explains in a short prologue, emerges from an encounter he had with Madame Pauline Vanier (mother of the founder of L'Arche, Jean Vanier) during one of his stays with L'Arche. Madame Vanier — "Mammie", as she became known to Nouwen — told him that God wanted him to write about the Sacred Heart. It was a conviction that wouldn't go away until, at last, some years later, this book was born during a Holy Week retreat with the Trappist Monks in Holland, Manitoba:
But something had changed within me. I no longer wanted to write about the heart of Jesus. In my own heart I began to discern a real desire to speak to the heart of Jesus and be heard. Somehow Madame Vanier's call no longer seemed a call to write a contemporary interpretation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart but an invitation to let the heart of Jesus touch my own heart deeply and to be healed by that experience. (pp.15-16)
The conversations flow freely, simply yet profoundly, as Nouwen opens his heart to Jesus during that Holy Week retreat, reflecting on scripture and his own response to the immensity of Christ's love. Each of the prayers is preceded by a passage of Scripture: for Holy Thursday, the starting point is Come to me..., Matthew 11:28-30; for Good Friday, The soldier pierced his side with a lance..., John 19:31-37; and for Easter Sunday, Look, here are my hands..., John 20:19-29.
Each reflection carries the reader on a journey through life's pain, humanity's pain, which Jesus himself has experienced and continues to share — and on towards a profound awareness of his compassion and presence, transforming hopelessness and despair into resurrection hope and healing.
This is a book to be read quietly at first, then to be read again, aloud, as we become aware of God's presence with us and his heartfelt love for us: a book to keep, and a book to give away.
Phil Groom, May 2007
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.Ave Maria Press | Order from www.christianbookshops.org