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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I have to say, "I am the best!"

By Jean Vanier
You see, the danger we human beings face is that we are vulnerable. We've all been hurt and so we create defense mechanisms. These defense mechanisms are based on elements of fear and prejudice. I have to say, "I am the best!" We are Canadians. We are Americans. We are this, we are that. We are in this church. We are the ones that know everything and others don't. And then one day you speak to Lazarus [the poor man in Jesus' parable]. You share with him and you begin to see that Lazarus is an incredibly beautiful human being.

I will tell you the story about a young boy. It's quite far from Lazarus but it's a young lad who died at the age of five, and at the age of three had paralysis of the legs and the paralysis moved all the way up the body. A few weeks before his death, he was blind and completely paralyzed and Mum was weeping next to him. The little boy said, "Don't cry Mummy. I still have a heart to love my Mummy with." Now that little boy was incredibly mature. You see, maturity is not to weep for what I do not have but to give thanks for what I have.

Hidden in this broken body of the leper, Lazarus, the beggar, you find a human being who has touched the essence of his humanity, whereas many other people who are rich and powerful are hiding their humanity. They don't really know who they are. They don't really know that they are a little child crying out for love. Aristotle says something quite extraordinary. He says, "If you feel you are not loved, you seek to be admired." That's to say you want to be brilliant, you want power, you want to have people looking at you, but you don't quite know who you are yourself.

Jean Vanier is the founder of l’Arche, an international network of communities for the mentally disabled.
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