Peace Moment: Can You Drink the Cup?
By Glenn Johnson
Henri Nouwen, the Dutch Catholic Priest and theologian wrote a whole book about Matthew 20:20-23. The book was titled: “Can you drink the cup?” At 107 pages, it was like most of Nouwen’s books, an easy read.
Nouwen sees the Christ cup as a cup of sorrow and a cup of joy. Describing the cup of sorrow, Nouwen writes:
“Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” Jesus asked his friends. They answered yes, but had no idea what he was talking about. Jesus’ cup is the cup of sorrow, not just his own sorrow but the sorrow of the whole human race. It is a cup full of physical, mental, and spiritual anguish. It is the cup of starvation, torture, loneliness, rejection, abandonment and immense anguish. It is the cup full of bitterness. Who wants to drink it? It is the cup that Isaiah calls ‘the cup of God’s wrath. The chalice, the stupefying cup, you have drained to the dregs,” (Isaiah 51:17) and what the second angel in the Book of Revelation calls ‘the wine of retribution” (Revelation 14:8), which Babylon gave the whole world to drink.”
Nouwen uses the metaphor of drinking from the cup and suggests a paradigm for living: we need to hold the cup, lift the cup, and drink from the cup. For Nouwen, holding the cup, means examining the cup and examining our lives. “We must know what we are living,” Nouwen says. “A life that is not reflected upon is not worth living.”
As we seek to find deeper meanings of peace in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, I am led to wonder if we can extend this paradigm: we need to hold the cup of remembrance, lift the cup of reconciliation, and drink from the cup of renewal. In this way, the cup becomes a cup of peace. But the cup of Christ’s peace is heavy.
Can you drink the cup?
Lord, may we hold the cup of remembrance…
May we lift the cup of reconciliation…
May we drink from the cup of renewal…
Prayer for Peace
Lord of love and peace, as we enter into this prayer for peace, help us to remember how to live our lives as a sacramental offering to you. Open our minds to the presence of your Spirit in every moment of every day and in this moment now. Let us be reconciled one to another and with all of creation. Renew a right heart within us, O Lord, and grant us peace. Amen.