Bishop Morneau's Column|
"Reflection on the Readings"
|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
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
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
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
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.)