The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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October 13, 2000 Issue
Bishop Morneau's Column
"Reflection on the Readings"

Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop Robert Morneau

In search of glory by following Jesus

One must follow Jesus' path of service, suffering and self-giving

October 22, Twenty-ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Bishop Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. What does the word "glory" mean to you?

2. Why are we here on earth?

3. Are service, suffering and self-giving central ingredients in your spiritual life?

I like James and John, the sons of Zebedee and disciples of the Lord. They are up-front, direct, honest, human. Without batting an eye they presented their desire to sit next to the Lord in glory and power. Only later, in their mature discipleship, did they desire also to suffer with the Lord.

The crown without the cross. The birth without the labor pains. The harvest without the plowing and stone picking. The breaking par without the practice. The meal without the shopping. Maybe on another planet but not here on earth.

Thus we speak of the human condition, something that James and John knew well. Its ingredients include physical fatigue, emotional upheaval, moral failures, intellectual limitations, religious dryness. Its ingredients are hang nails, rainy vacations, forgotten appointments, unexpected bills, family feuds, unrequited love. Jesus was tested here as we are. Jesus is our high priest who can sympathize with our weakness. Jesus knows our infirmities from the inside.

James and John came to understand that the glory they sought could only be experienced by following the path that Jesus trod: a path of service, suffering, and self-giving. The term we use today is servant-leadership. The Christian leader guides by example in being for and with others. This active concern in addressing the needy, especially the most vulnerable, is the cup we are asked to drink. This way of life is glorious, that is, radiant with love.

Conventional wisdom would have us believe that glory is superbowl rings, academy awards, winning the lottery, acquisitions of Ph. D.'s. Identifying glory with the cross seems a contradiction; it demands a leap of faith. It is also a leap of love and hope. Giving one's life as a ransom for many is the ultimate glory, one that leads to resurrection.

I like James and John - the other ten too - who became indignant as they watched the power play of Zebedee's sons. They are human; they are just like us. They too would learn that the hard way to authentic glory is to tread the road to Calvary with the Lord. Service, suffering and self-giving would be their response as disciples.

All of us are summoned to serve. Hopefully we do not have to wait until we are into mid-life to learn that we are not here on earth to be served, to be made happy. We are here to be glad instruments of God's kingdom, to be agents of reconciliation, to be conduits of God's love and mercy. We are here to share in God's glory by participation in the life of Jesus - his ministry, this suffering, his death and resurrection.

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

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