The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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June 30, 2000 Issue
Bishop Morneau's Column
"Reflection on the Readings"

Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop Robert Morneau

Enough - Is it a glorious word?

The grace and love that God gives us is enough when we live in faith

July 9, Fourteenth Sunday

By Bishop Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. Have you been infected with the disease of "moreness"?

2. Why do we think we need more than grace, God's love?

3. What do you need? What do you want from God?

Although Christmas is half a year away, a line from Charles Dickens' The Christmas Carol comes to mind. It is spoken by the ghost who visits the greedy, mean-spirited Scrooge: "Enough. What a glorious word!"

When Jesus went teaching in his own country and curing many people of their illnesses, his own people ". . . found him too much for them." It wasn't that he was "enough," that is, satisfactory, but this wisdom and power overwhelmed them to such an extent that no miracles could be worked there. The Gospel writer gives the cause for all this: lack of faith.

Faith, when lived, comes to the conclusion that what God gives us is enough. To be obsessively driven by "the more," to be constantly wired, anxious, on edge because nothing is satisfactory leads to joylessness. Jesus' neighbors reasoned that a carpenter, the son of Mary, could not possibly be the Messiah. They expected more of a savior than such a humble origin; they expected a mighty liberator, one coming in great power and glory.

St. Paul struggled with "enoughness." He kept begging the Lord to remove the thorn that caused him torment and to banish the angel of Satan who kept beating him up. A line far greater than the one from Dickens' story is the Lord's response to Paul's request: "My grace is enough for you. . ." Paul knew his real weakness. It was not a matter of the flesh but one of the spirit: pride. No longer could this apostle to the Gentiles boast of his own wisdom and power. Rather, it was the grace and power of Christ operative in Paul that made him strong.

Ezekiel, our prophet in the first reading, prefigures the mission of Jesus. Ezekiel too was sent to teach and preach; he too faced an audience that was hard of hearing because their hearts were obstinate. It seems as if it wasn't a fair assignment. Previous prophets had gone and were rejected and now Ezekiel had to face a rebellious house. But the Lord seems to say that, whether or not heeded, the sending of a prophet with a message is enough. His very presence will be an instrument of truth and power.

Our culture is permeated with an insatiable appetite for "the more": more money, more power, more pleasure, more work, more leisure, more land, more cows, more cabbage, more growth in every area. The distinction between needs and wants is gone. Greed rules the day.

Our life of discipleship is lived within this environment and, by way of osmosis, we are infected with "moreness." Whether or not we will be able to retrieve the word "enough" and live it, is an open question.

St. Paul understood the theology of enoughness because of an internal struggle that kept him humble and prevented him from relying on his own giftedness. Grace alone is enough for us. God's love is satisfactory. Perhaps the ghost that appeared to Scrooge was the Holy Ghost: "Enough. What a glorious word!"

(Bp. Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese.)

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