July 25, 2004

Les Miserables and true hospitality

While in Oxford I found a treasure--a used copy of Hugo´s Les Miserables, in two volumes, from the 1909 edition of the "Everyman´s Library" series, and for only four pounds! I´ve seen the famous musical several times, and I know the story and most of the songs by heart, but I´ve never read the book. I started it this weekend, and it is simply wonderful. I´ve wanted to blog so much of it that I´d have the first 60 pages reproduced here had I not restrained myself. The passage that follows, though, was too good not to share.

Here´s the scene: Jean Valjean, a convict recently released from his 19 year sentence as a galley slave, has made his way into a small village in the French Alps. After having been rudely turned away by every place where he sought shelter for the night, he makes his way to the home of the local bishop, an incredibly pious and Godly man who lives more like a peasant than a prince of the church. The bishop welcomes him and offers him food. When Valjean expresses his wonder at the welcome he´s received, the bishop responds:
The bishop, who as sitting near him, touched his hand and said: "You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house; it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome. And do not thank me; do not tell me that I take you into my house. This is the home of no man, except him who needs an asylum. I tell you, who are a traveller, that you are more at home here than I; whatever is here is yours. What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me, I knew it.

The man opened his eyes in astonishment:

"Really? You knew my name?"

"Yes," answered the bishop, "your name is my brother."
Lord, may I attain to this same greatness.

3 Comments:

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(This is Christina, not Anonymous.)
Daniel! I'm so glad that you get the chance to read Les Mis. It's simply a wonderful novel--one of the most deeply Christian novels that I've read. Such a beautiful picture of the difference between a life filled with grace and a life filled with legalism. Valjean, along with Atticus Finch and Rev. Kumalo from Cry the Beloved Country, is one of my literary heroes.
Enjoy! :)

 
At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Anna. I'm sooo jealous! What a great find! (or should I say, steal?) :-D

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Heh heh heh...just call me "24601." =)

 

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