Sunday, February 21, 2016

Remembering Michel Quoist 1921-1997

This evening, Lord, I am afraid.
I am afraid, for your Gospel is terrible.
It is easy to hear it preached,
It is relatively easy not to be shocked by it,
But it is very difficult to live it.
I am afraid of deluding myself, Lord.
I am afraid of being satisfied with my decent little life,
I am afraid of my good habits, for I take them for virtues;
I am afraid of my little efforts, for I take them for progress;
I am afraid of my activities; they make me think I am giving myself.
I am afraid of my clever planning; I take it for success.
I am afraid of my influence, I imagine that it will transform lives;
I am afraid of what I give; it hides what I withhold;
I am afraid, Lord; there are people who are poorer than I;
Not so well educated,
housed,
heated,
fed,
cared for,
loved.
I am afraid, Lord, for I do not do enough for them,
I do not do everything for them.
I should give everything.
I should give everything until there is not a single pain, a single misery, a single sin in the world.
I should then give all, Lord, all the time.
I should give my life.
Lord, it is not true, is it?
It is not true for everyone,
I am exaggerating, I must be sensible!
Son, there is only one commandment, 

For everyone:
You shall love with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your strength.

Lord, why did you tell me to love all men, my brothers? I have tried, but I come back to you, frightened…
 Lord, I was so peaceful at home, I was so comfortably settled. It was well furnished, and I felt cozy. I was alone, I was at peace. Sheltered from the wind, the rain, the mud. I would have stayed unsullied in my ivory tower. 
But, Lord, you have discovered a breach in my defences, You have forced me to open my door, Like a squall of rain in the face, the cry of men has awakened me; Like a gale of wind a friendship has shaken me, As a ray of light slips in unnoticed, your grace has stirred me… and, rashly enough, I left my door ajar. 
Now, Lord, I am lost! 4. Outside men were lying in wait for me. I did not know they were so near; in this house, in this street, in this office; my neighbour, my colleague, my friend. As soon as I started to open the door I saw them, with outstretched hands, burning eyes, longing hearts, like beggars on church steps. T
he first ones came in, Lord. There was after all some space in my heart. I welcomed them. I would have cared for them and fondled them, my very own little lambs, my little flock. You would have been pleased, Lord, I would have served and honoured you in a proper, respectable way. Till then, it was sensible.
 But the next ones, Lord, the other men, I had not seen them; they were hidden behind the first ones. There were more of them, they were wretched; they over-powered me without warning.
 We had to crowd in, I had to find room for them. Now they have come from all over, in successive waves, pushing one another, jostling one another. They have come from all over town, from all parts of the country, of the world; numberless, inexhaustible. 
They don’t come alone any longer but in groups, bound one to another. They come bending under heavy loads; loads of injustice, of resentment and hate, of suffering and sin… 
They drag the world behind them, with everything rusted, twisted, or badly adjusted. Lord, they hurt me! They are in the way, they are everywhere, They are too hungry, they are consuming me! I can’t do anything any more; as they come in, they push the door, and the door opens wider… 
Lord! My door is wide open! I can’t stand it any more! It’s too much! It’s no kind of life! What about my job? My family? My peace? My liberty? And me?
 Lord, I have lost everything, I don’t belong to myself any longer; There’s no more room for me at home. 5. 
Don’t worry, God says, you have gained all. While men came in to you, I, your Father, I, your God, Slipped in among them.



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