The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 20, 2001 Issue
Bishop Morneau's Column
"Reflection on the Readings"

Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop Robert Morneau

We have been given a whole new life

In the mystery of the Eucharist we witness what discipleship entails

April 22, Second Sunday of Easter

By Bishop Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. How can we avoid becoming accustomed to sadness?

2. Do we have a tendency to "save ourselves?"

3. What do you hear in listening to God's heartbeat?

Easter book number one: Henri J.M. Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son (New York: Doubleday, Image Books, 1992). During this 2001 Easter season I would like to share some books which, in my humble estimation, reflect the Easter joy and peace that the Risen Lord sends into our life. In quoting favorite passages from the various books I will also comment on their relationship to the scriptures.

1. "I have to kneel before the Father, put my ear against his chest and listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God" (17). Is this what the doubting Thomas did? Jesus again breaks into his life and offers to the doubter the great gift of peace. This time Thomas speaks out of a heart of faith. It is in Jesus that the mystery of God is revealed and through Jesus that the Spirit comes.

One obstacle to hearing God's heartbeat is interruption. Our busyness, our doubts, our many fears block our listening capacity and cast us into a chaotic and dark world. We become prodigal, running away from our true selves and getting lost in attractive, but false tinsel. Like Thomas we need the gift of faith; like Thomas, we must kneel before the risen Lord to hear God's heartbeat.

2. "I had little idea how much I would have to live what I then saw" (139). Picture yourself on an island (say Patmos) where you saw seven gold lampstands and a figure dressed in a long robe. This person touches you and says "Do not be afraid." Such was the experience of St. John in the Book of Revelation. He never realized how much his life would change because of this vision.

What we see, Sunday after Sunday, is the mystery of the Eucharist. In this sacrament we witness what discipleship entails: total self-giving. Do we have any idea what this will cost us? Do we realize that when the prodigal son returned, major demands would fall upon his shoulders? To see and experience the mercy of a father changes everything.

3. "Somehow I have become accustomed to living with sadness, and so have lost the eyes to see the joy and the ears to hear the gladness that belongs to God and which is to be found in the hidden corners of the world" (115). After the Easter event, the disciples went out to proclaim the good news and to face the suffering in the world. They encountered the sick and those with unclean spirits. Surely there was enough darkness here to cause sadness.

But the contrary was their experience. They knew and experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit who brought peace and healing to others. The good news of salvation in Jesus' resurrection gave them the confidence to face all kinds of difficulties. How amazing to see the fearful Peter now acting with such boldness and courage.

One last phrase from Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son: "... the impossibility of self-redemption" (76). Easter is a reminder of this fact. We need a redeemer and in Jesus, our risen Lord and Savior, we have been, like the prodigal son, given a whole new life. Alleluia.

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

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