Last week, Jean Vanier, the French Canadian founder of L'Arche, was fully resurrected with the Savior he loved so much. In his writing and talks, he never ceased speaking about the love of Christ, and how that loved transformed his life as he lived with and learned from precious children of God with disabilities. Vanier was a man in whom the love of Christ was clear as day, in whom the Light of Christ shone through in word and deed. When such men and women pass, it is always a temptation to place them on a pedestal. But Jean himself, in his usual humility, would always point to the love of Christ within him as the only source of his own love and joy. Vanier would be the first to admit that he was a saint and a sinner, and while we can look to Vanier's life and ministry as an icon (a symbol) of God's love and presence in the world, there's no doubt he would caution us not to idolize him.
I will always love Vanier as a fellow brother in Christ and as a true representative of the love God has for all his children. The inspiration I draw from his life is this: that all of us in Christ are saints and sinners. The more we surrender to Christ, the more "saintly" we become. And precisely because of Christ, we are "no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of God's household." Our ontological sainthood in Christ is more or less evident in this world depending on the extent to which we offer ourselves as "living sacrifices" to the will of God. Vanier's example shows us the transformation that occurs in the life of one who daily refuses to conform to the patterns and ways of this world, and how such a life can bless other lives and draw them into love and joy.
If you've never had the blessing of listening to Jean Vanier, I would like to offer this interview: