Who is the Jesus you want people to discover?

For the past five weeks, I have been packing my belongings in order to bring them with me to my new home in Belleville. In addition to my clothes, family photo albums, and personal papers, I have been sorting and packing many, many books that I own. I have hundreds of books; some were given to me, and others I purchased over the years. I enjoy books and many of the ones in my library have influenced my thoughts, my faith and my prayer life.

Books can definitely have an impact on your life. I would point out, however, that a person is not so much changed by a book; rather a person is changed by what a book helps you to discover. The Bible is the single most important book in my library because what the Bible contains has helped me discover so much about God, about human life, love, forgiveness and hope. Through studying and praying with the texts in the Bible, the Lord has revealed Himself to me, especially revealing the love and mercy that is in His heart.

In early June, I made a five-day retreat in preparation for being ordained a bishop. Those days were spent at the Redemptorist Retreat Center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Every day I would meet for an hour with the Redemptorist priest who was directing the retreat. On day three of the retreat, the priest spoke with me about the preaching and the teaching I would offer as a bishop. He then asked: “Who is the Jesus you want people to discover?”

That question has stayed with me ever since and I’ve reflected on it many times in preparation for beginning the ministry of bishop. “Who is the Jesus you want people to discover?” Through the Bible, I have discovered so much about Jesus as He shares His life with me.

What is there then about Jesus that I want to share with others in the 28 counties that make up our diocese? Let me briefly offer three aspects of Jesus’ life that I want to share with you.

First, Jesus is the Eternal Word of God in the flesh; God the Father truly sent His Son into the world in the wonder of the Incarnation. We are not alone; Christ is our Good Shepherd who walks with us, and, if we follow Him, will lead us to the Father’s House.

Second, Jesus is the Mercy of God revealed to the world. When reflecting on the actions of Jesus and His teachings, especially the parables of Luke’s Gospel, we can experience the mercy of God. God, in Jesus, seeks out and saves people who are lost.

This mercy is poured out in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord.

Third, Jesus is the crucified and risen Lord, who calls us to friendship with Him, a communion of love that is life-giving. “I have called you friends” (John 15:15) is an invitation that can seem too good to be true. Yet Jesus offers us a relationship filled with love and grace that can change us from living at a distance from God to living as friends of Christ, and sons and daughters of God.

“Who is the Jesus you want people to discover?” As I begin living in the Diocese of Belleville, I look forward to meeting new people and hearing about your lives and faith.

I hope that we can mutually share with one another the hope that we have discovered in Jesus. God’s holy word, revealed in Sacred Scripture, is taught and proclaimed in the community of the Church so that God can reveal Himself to the whole world.

May everyone of us be eager to share our faith in Christ with our families and our communities so that Christ may be discovered and loved in countless hearts.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend
Michael McGovern