The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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September 29, 2000 Issue
Bishop Morneau's Column
"Reflection on the Readings"

Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop Robert Morneau

Jesus is the repairer of fences

Jesus provides us with a map of love, forgiveness and compassion

October 8, Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Bishop Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. What is your personal vision of life?

2. What role does Jesus' vision of union and unity play in your spirituality?

3. What fences has Jesus repaired on your journey?

As we prepare for the upcoming elections the constant concern is what is the vision of the people running for office. What do they believe in; what values do they stand for; what are the planks on their platform.

Articulating one's vision is a challenge. What is our vision of God, of ourselves, of life itself? Much thought and prayer must go into this process if we are to come up with a consistent philosophy or theology of human existence.

Jesus had a vision and two key words to describe that vision are union and unity. All creatures are made for union with God and are to work towards unity with one another. Whatever impedes and breaks that union/unity is to be seriously questioned. It could well be a sin. Whatever fosters union/unity is probably in the realm of grace.

A special union is that between husband and wife. The marriage commitment is important not only for them but also for society, which sees the family as the unit of our social community. That commitment is also important to children and the extended family. Thus Jesus cries out that no one is to separate what God has joined together. He condemns adultery because it breaks the oneness, which is part of the divine plan.

The book of Genesis comments on aloneness and togetherness. We are social creatures and cannot survive physically, psychologically, or spiritually in total isolation. We need one another; we are made for community. The Genesis story describes this coming together in terms of the union between man and woman. There is also the larger vision of the Mystical Body of Christ in which all of us are seen as members of a single body with Christ as the head. It is adulterous to break that unity as well.

Jesus came to restore the brokenness caused by sin, be it adultery, hatred, greed, meanness, pride, sloth. There is something drastically wrong in our world, which needs repair. Jesus is the "repairer of fences," the one who comes after us to mend the harm that we have done. And the price for that "redemption" was his own death. Our Lord tasted suffering and death so that we might experience the extent of God's love for us. Through the paschal mystery our union with God and unity with one another has been made possible.

The Gospel acclamation summarizes our liturgy: "If we love one another, God will live in us in perfect love." Then there will be no adultery or hatred, no breaking apart what God has planned as a whole. Love, and love alone, brings about union and unity. And the offsprings of the oneness are joy and peace.

Our culture's vision is far different from that of Jesus. We see this in the volume of alienation surrounding us (and within us), in the gap between those and those who have not, in the violence and rage of daily life, in a blatant consumerism which has lost the word "enough." Something is amiss. We need another map, one that Jesus provides. It is a map of love, forgiveness and compassion. It is a map of union and unity.

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

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