April 29, 2009 by Stephen
Have you ever studied the expressions on people’s faces? You can really tell a lot by looking at a person’s face. You can see the sorrow on the face of a relative after they experienced the loss of a loved one in another of our country’s tragic shootings. You can see the sense of happiness and celebration on the face of the basketball player whose team will play for the championship Monday night. You can see the innocence of a child when you look at their face as they listen to you read them a story. Nouwen looks at the face of Jesus in a sculpture at the Augustiner Museum in Freiburg, and sees something that is out of place with the scene. The scene is excited, noisy, and celebratory as Jesus rides into Jerusalem, but Nouwen sees that Jesus is thinking about something else. He is thinking about “an agonizing journey of betrayal, torture, crucifixion, and death.” Nouwen sees in the face of Jesus melancholy, peaceful acceptance, insight into the fickleness of the human heart, immense compassion, an awareness of pain, determination to do God’s will, and above all, an endless, deep, and far-reaching love. When you imagine Jesus riding on the donkey, what do you see in his face?
Nouwen is reminded every time he looks at this sculpture of Jesus that he is “seen by him with all my sins, guilt, and shame and loved with all his forgiveness, mercy, and compassion.” Let us take comfort in knowing that Jesus sees us for all that we are and loves us fully, with the love that was present in his face as he rode on a donkey on that Palm Sunday.