Tuesday 16 February 2016

9.Openness to others is openness to God L’ouverture à l’autre est ouverture à Dieu

9.Openness to others is openness to God

Before coming to l’Arche and having an experience with people with disabilities, the ’poor’ might have made one run away. The experience of unconscious rejection and of closing in on oneself which the assistant may well have been living in society, is found to be ’re- enforced in quite a subtle and hidden manner. In this place of welcome, l’Arche, the poor person has become a generator of life. He provokes openness, mercy. He opens up my heart to life. The young person coming to l’Arche turns towards the person with an intellectual disability. His experience shows how he now finds life in this movement of openness.It is a new life he hadn’t known before. He may come to the understanding that this life has something to do with the Gospel. The poor person is a generator of life, he provokes openness and mercy in me.

There are two ways of living, one way that leads to death and another that leads to life. I can either close myself up in my ’me’ as the Apostle John described in his first letter : ’pleasure-seeking, possessive, domineering’-in this way true life does not circulate. Either I am open to another person, and in this very openness I find life. This openness is a Gift of God called Grace. This grace acts without me knowing it or being aware of it. In this gift of openness to the other person who is calling me, I enter into Life. The forces of ’egoism’ are appeased in order to allow a life that has been liberated to blossom. It is necessary to go and live with the poor person so as to understand what has then happened. I had thought that being at the service of the poor person I would bring him life, and it is the other who gives me life as I open myself to him. ’Self-forgetfulness’ for others is the path that leads to true life. It is from within ly own life that it is worked at, provoked by the other who becomes a generator of life for me. I enter into Life.

I am in this way brought back to my source, God’s image in me, Trinity of Love, who is in me a Source of Life. And so the ’poor one’ is for me ’engenderment, a third’, necessary for life to surge up in abundance. ’A third’ because the Holy Spirit is at work in the Passage opened up for me by Jesus Christ.

’leaving everything , they followed him’ say the Gospels about the Apostles. Following Jesus, they had an experience of ’Another Life’, that of God in Jesus and that of Jesus in them.

Jesus is this "Poor One’ who says ’I’m thirsty’ to the Samaritan. When she received him, he said to her : ’If only you knew the Gift of God.’

If in her welcome towards Jesus she has fulfilled his expectations, as far as she is concerned, Jesus has fulfilled her unspeakable desire of her heart. : ’I don’t have a husband.’

Here again, in a mysterious way life ’is played out’ in the encounter, the welcome of the other person in his weakness and poverty. Through Adoration in Spirit and Truth which is also placing oneself available to do His Will, a source of Life opens up.

Life is ’played out’ in the encounter and welcome of another person.

As it is for Mary at the Annunciation, for the Good Samaritan, for the l’Arche assistant, for the encounter with the Samaritan, a ’law of life’ can be seen which is the openness with the other (the Other) who reveals the hidden life in oneself. ’The other’ in distress, lack or suffering, give life in overabundance to the one who welcomes him. In this encounter I have become the other person’s neighbour.

I am a witness in l’Arche to this mystery of the rapport to the other person. Either I am relative to him and he brings life to me; either I turn myself away from him and a path of death comes about in me. Is this not what Jesus speaks about when he says the world hasn’t come to know God : ’God is Love.’

Jesus will say ’I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was naked and you clothed me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

It is always someone else with his body who begs to have what is needed to live. It is in a practical experience that the Gift of God will be given. Gift of life through food, clothing, recognition for sure, but even more Gift of Life through the encounter of the other person who out of his lack gives me the courage I needed to live. Thus my existence is hidden to others, it is the other person to whom I turn who gives me the courage to exist, the feeling of existence which takes me out of a feeling of anguish. Jesus’ becomes’ the poor one whom I need so that I can go beyond myself and find Life. He becomes the Poor One in the poor I may encounter. The witness of l’Arche assistants is unanimous :in the poor they care for, they make the discovery of who they themselves are.