Jean Vanier is the founder of L'Arche, an international organization that creates communities for people with developmental disabilities -- people who were in institutions, on the streets, or in families who couldn't care for them or didn't want them. The son of a French-Canadian diplomat, Vanier served in the British Royal Navy during World War II, then he taught philosophy in France.
While never marrying, he considered the priesthood. But in 1964, he found his calling, opening the first L'Arche home in a small village south of Paris. Judy Valente visits L'Arche in Chicago and talks with Vanier about how the members of this establishment have transformed Vanier by allowing him into their world and watching their self-esteem grow as they give back
the love that they have received.
Vanier says, "My life is to live with them -- to be with those who are fragile, vulnerable and weak. I'm not sure that we can really understand the message of Jesus if we haven't listened to the weak...we can love people who have been pushed aside, humiliated, seen as having no value. And then we see that they are changed. And at the same time, we discover that we too are broken, that we have our handicaps. And our handicaps are around about elitism, about power, around feeling that value is just to have power."
To truly be able to take the perspective that Vanier describes, I must work on developing a Romans 12:2 kind of perspective. How could I learn to live the message of Jesus unless I seek to, "be not conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God."
We cannot really understand the message of Jesus if we haven't listened to the weak, those who are seen as having no value. Useless eaters as the Nazi's called them. but I am steeped in elitism and power and the feeling that value is to have power. I am entangled and ensnared in those values that I have been socialized into believing. I, we need to ask God for the transforming of our minds in order to reflect Vainer's vision of being like Jesus.