The Descending Way

The Descending Way

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death-
even death on a cross!

Phil. 2:5-8

“The love of God [has] become visible in Jesus.  How is that love made visible through Jesus?  It is made visible in the descending way.  That is the great mystery of the Incarnation.  God has descended to us human beings to become a human with us; and once among us, descended to the total dereliction of one condemned to death.  It isn’t really easy to feel and understand from the inside this descending way of Jesus.  Every fibre of our being rebels against it.  We don’t mind paying attention to poor people from time to time; but descending to a state of poverty and becoming poor with the poor, that we don’t want to do.  And yet that is the way Jesus chose as the way to know God…”

“Once we have become poor, we can be a good host.  It is indeed the paradox of hospitality that poverty makes a good host.  Poverty is the inner disposition that allows us to take away our defenses and convert our enemies to friends.  We can only perceive the stranger as an enemy as long as we have something to defend.  But when we say, ‘Please enter – my house is your house, my joy is your joy, my sadness is your sadness, and my life is your life,’ we have nothing to defend, since we have nothing to lose but all to give.
Turning the other cheek means showing our enemies that they can only be our enemies while supposing that we are anxiously clinging to our private property, whatever it is: our knowledge, our good name, our land, our money, or the many objects that we have collected around us.  But who will be our robber when everything he wants to steal from us becomes our gift to him?”

“Our lives are destined to become like the life of Jesus.  The whole purpose of Jesus’ ministry is to bring us to the house of the Father.  Not only did Jesus come to free us from the bonds of sin and death, he also came to lead us into the intimacy of the divine life.  It is difficult for us to imagine what this means.  We tend to emphasize the distance between Jesus and ourselves.  We see Jesus as the all-knowing and all-powerful Son of God who is unreachable for us sinful, broken human beings.  But in thinking this way, we forget that Jesus came to give us his own life.  He came to lift us up into loving community with the Father.  Only when we recognize the radical purpose of Jesus’ ministry will be be able to understand the meaning of the spiritual life.  Everything that belongs to Jesus is given for us to receive.  All that Jesus does we may also do.”

Father God,

This descending life of humble obedience
goes against every instinct of my flesh.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit
bring forth in my life the humble and obedient
descending way of your Son Jesus.

Teach me to know You.


Quotes from: Show Me The Way: Readings for Each Day of Lent by Nouwen