The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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October 6, 2000 Issue
Bishop Morneau's Column
"Reflection on the Readings"

Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop Robert Morneau

Happiness in seeing and giving

See your life as one of stewardship to enter the kingdom of heaven

October 15, Twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Bishop Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. How many toys do you have?

2. How can we be possessed by our possessions?

3. Why is stewardship much more than the giving of money?

Seeing is a great gift. The ability to see autumn leaves, to see a full harvest moon, to see the face of a loved one. This gift of sight must not be taken for granted.

Just as important as the act of seeing is "how" we see. Do we stare? Do we frown and send out critical glances? Do we gaze with compassion and concern? Our model is the Lord: "Jesus, looking at him, loved him . . ."

The "him" is the man who approached Jesus with a vital question dealing with what must be done to inherit eternal life. We have here a good man encountering a good, loving teacher. The commandments have been kept and yet something is missing: a deep generosity.

Jesus' loving glance contained a radical desire. He wanted this individual to be free of the possessions that were possessing him. Jesus wanted a sharing with the poor, a sharing of God's gifts, simply entrusted to this man who was seeking eternal life. For some reason the rich man didn't realize his own situation.

It is hard for a person who does not see their life as one of stewardship to enter the kingdom of heaven. The reason is that they think they "own" things in an absolute sense. The prudence and wisdom prayed for in the first reading gives the insight that all that we have and are comes to us from God, the origin of life and freedom. The wise person knows this and refuses to allow power, possessions, wealth or prestige to become idols.

God's word cuts to the quick. Sharper than the slicing knife, the divine word penetrates our souls. "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God." Here is a call to a life of gratitude and generosity.

Even though Jesus looked with love upon the anonymous figure in the gospel, the man's face fell. He left with a heavy, sad heart because he found the call of stewardship too demanding. This desire for eternal life was not as strong as his desire for earthly possessions.

"Come, follow me" is the call to discipleship. It is also a call to stewardship; to receive God's gifts gratefully, to nurture those gifts responsibly, to share God's gifts justly and charitably, to return those gifts to the Lord in abundance. When we live this way of life our faces will not fall nor will our souls be sad.

A quick story. A mother wanted to teach her five-year-old son the beginning steps of stewardship. Already by five the lad had amassed a sizable kingdom of toys. The mother proposed that every time a new gift arrived, her son should give away an old toy. She explained that by doing this he would experience joy and happiness in the giving.

After the first trial run of giving away an old toy the boy bust into tears and said: "If giving away a toy is suppose to make me happy, why does it hurt so much." The mother looked at him with love.

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

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