Prayer from Jacques Couture SJ (GLC) (1929-1995)
Inspired by a meditation oft-revisited over the course of his life, this prayer by Jacques Couture SJ (GLC) adopts the point-of-view of Jesus, in the expression of his compassion before the crowds found in Chapter 25 of Matthew's Gospel. Jesus invites us to see with his eyes all forms of poverty and suffering endured by the people we meet, for he identifies with them. Jacques Couture wrote this prayer in Madagascar in 1986. There, he had been living and working for several years in a neighbourhood where misery was ever-present before his eyes.
The God I know
Rests in the shadow of my house.
Each day he begs a bit of rice
And even more, a gaze of love, a welcoming face.
The God I know was born on straw
And died on wood.
And since a certain Easter morning
Here and there wanders in the world,
Mingling with the anonymous crowd,
The unimportant, the undesirable.
I see him silhouetted in the neighbourhood streets.
He tries to disappear, barely lets himself be seen,
And nine times out of ten he isn't recognized...
The God I know is powerless, silent
He keeps me from peaceful sleep.
He haunts my quiet nights.
He says he's hungry, thirsty, naked,
A stranger, a prisoner.
He yells from the gutter,
Moans in his abandonment, rejected.
Without shame he spreads out his fleshless bones, his broken body.
I thought I heard his voice the other day:
"I am still there, I've never left you.
Oh, do not let me die of hunger,
Do not let me spend another roofless night, without warmth.
Do not leave me under oppression,
Suffer injustice, take blows, be tortured.
I need you
Today, this evening, now!
I knock at the door and there is no answer.
It's cold, I'm alone, there's no one to help me
To get back up, to tend my wounds..."
The God I know is called Jesus Christ.
He rests in the shadow of my house...