Gaining strength in our pursuit of Christ Print E-mail
Bishop's Column
Written by Bishop Robert C. Morlino   
Thursday, Feb. 08, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

This past Sunday, I was able to offer Mass and spend some time with our young people gathered for Frassati Fest, which is organized by our diocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, and put on for our high schoolers, with the help and cooperation of so many good people.

It was a terrific gathering. What I told them, I think, is a good message for all of us.

What are we in pursuit of?

At the end of the Gospel of this past week, we hear that Jesus went off to a deserted place, and that Simon and those who were with him pursued Him (Mk 1:35-36).

This reality of Simon and the others pursuing the Lord is poignant in our own lives, and it was an excellent fit for those taking part in Frassati Fest, as their theme was Pursuit. And what is the “pursuit” to which we all are called? The pursuit of Jesus and the pursuit of holiness in Him.

St. Paul, in the Second Reading from this past Sunday, tells us that he became weak to help the weak, and strong to help the strong (1 Cor 9).

In another place, he says, “I know how to live with poverty and how to live with splendor (Phil 4:12).” And, he says, “I became all things to all, in order that I might save some (1 Cor 9:22).” That is precisely how each of us can pursue Christ and pursue holiness in Christ.

Becoming all things to all

With the Apostles and like the Apostles, we must become all things to all, so that we might save some. That is, so that the Lord might save some through our ministry. That should be our pursuit.

Now, in order to become all things to all, what do we have to do?

We get a major clue about that from the First Reading (Job 7:1-4, 6-7). Job said basically, I am the biggest loser in the world. I have no hope. I am a mess. At one point, he went home and he told his wife how miserable he was. And what did she say? She didn’t say, “Oh, Job, we’ll get through this.” Job was miserable and her response was to say “Curse God and die!”

I told the young people that I know there are times when they themselves feel miserable and feel like all hope is lost. And, I told them that that’s terrible, for they are too young to have to feel miserable. This is not the way things should be, but this is the world and the culture in which we live.

In one sense, misery should be left for old age because, allegedly, we’re better able to handle it. The hope is that as we grow in age and wisdom, we become better at knowing good times and bad.

Pursuing and thanking the Lord

And, when we pursue the Lord, one of the things we have to do is realize that in every single human experience that we have, whether we’re down in the dumps or cheering to the high heavens (as if the Packers won the Super Bowl), we’ve got to thank God for the experience, and we have to think about it and to know where that experience fits in our pursuit of Jesus and of holiness in Him.

So all of us are called to become sad for those who are sad, and joyful for those who are joyful, weak for those who are weak. We are called to be all things to all. And when we can actually do that, we can, in a word, empathize.

We can, as Pope Francis says, accompany the other. In my sharing in the experiences of others and in my being aware of those experiences, I can jump right into that experience with them, and in them, to pursue Christ.

Using the gifts of Confirmation

There are a lot of people who have a lot of miserable things going on in their lives, just like Job in the First Reading, and we are called to pursue Jesus by walking with them. And when we have something weighing us down, when we are tempted to depression, I pray that we don’t give in.

To the young people I said (and I pray), please never give in to discouragement! That’s what those gifts of Confirmation are all about. Those who are confirmed have everything they need to face and conquer any problem in life.

I told the young people, when you have a loss, a suffering, a disappointment — even the death of a friend, whatever you have — in the Sacrament of Confirmation you are gifted with strength to endure and to have the comfort of the Lord.

And I say to all of you, when you need that strength, don’t forget you are confirmed! Sadly, most Catholics do. It’s the forgotten Sacrament, but it is a big deal. Everything you need comes from the Holy Spirit so that you can face whatever difficulty and not only survive it, but conquer!

But in order for the Holy Spirit to activate that, you have to thank God for every human experience you have, whether the experiences are moments of suffering, or moments of joy, moments of weakness, or moments of strength. You never say “why me!?” You say, “Thank God! Because now, through this experience, I’m more able to become all things to all, like St. Paul.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I pray that each of us might be strengthened in our pursuit of Jesus Christ and of holiness in Him.

Praised be Jesus Christ!