On the Margins: John 12: 20-33 (Last Episode)

My dear believers in the Christ,

This is my last episode of On the Margins. Now in my thirteenth year with Mater Dei Radio, I am retiring this program. I am deeply grateful for Dina Marie Hale who invited me to reflect on the gospels of Advent in 2005. Those four weeks led into these years of radio ministry. I am also grateful for your emails, letters and comments over the years. Blessings to you all.

“Please know of my prayer for you until next time we meet On the Margins.”

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC



On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR



Fifth Sunday of Lent: March 18, 2018


JN 12:20-33

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven,
“I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
Jesus answered and said,
“This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself.”
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

The Fifth Sunday of Lent: My cover art and column

March 18, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Image of Saint Joseph: Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC  Originally published in AIM Magazine from World Library, Chicago, Illinois, Spring 2018



Dear Believers in Christ Jesus,

In today’s gospel, John 12:20-33, some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” This searching for Jesus caught my attention in this passage. During this Lenten season, our souls also long to see Jesus. We are all caught up in the search through our prayer, our fasting, and our alms giving.

I invite you to rest in the phrase, “We would like to see Jesus.” This request is not just a pious inquiry but a deep longing to be free of the sin, self-centeredness, and darkness of our own journey. To set our eyes on the Beloved, to search diligently for the face of the Christ, is to find for our own lives the mercy, hope and satisfaction we all long for on this side of the grave.

The gospel then challenges us to explore how to search for Jesus. We must learn from a grain of wheat. If we let go our burdens, our securities and surrender to God, we shall learn to live in great abundance. Jesus’ love is not skimpy or shallow. It is not for a precious few or timid about who can receive such compassion. We are the ones who lose sight of our desires to discover a life worth living, to discover a hope that is well beyond our own imagining. In these Lenten days, our sight is on the person of Christ. When shall you see Jesus?

We shall see Jesus…

…when we finally have the courage to speak from our hearts in prayer.

…when we learn we cannot control life or satisfy our own needs.

…when we quiet our inner life and offer our heartache to him.

…when we die like a grain of wheat and believe we shall grow in love.

…when Lent becomes an inner search for integrity and peace

…when we live His pattern of dying to self and rising in Him.

…when we admit our failures and entrust our life to God.

…when hope is not a theory but also a lived prayer in our daily lives. …

…when we have the courage to listen and not just utter formulas for prayer.

…when we reach out into the suffering of other people.

…when our hearts are broken open because of the misery of others. …

…when we come to the conclusion that we are all one in Christ.

…when we worship in community and not just pray for our own lives.

…when we die to our selfishness and learn to grow in unity and compassion.

…when tenderness replaces hatred.

…when the beauty of life draws us into the Divine.

…when His courage within us compels us to live our truth. …

…when we encounter the face of the stranger, the refugee and the child in faith.

Peace in this Lenten journey,

Fr. Ron

Retreat Week: A poem and pictures from Holy Cross House

I preached a Lenten retreat at Holy Cross House last week. Three of my former pastors now live in our health care facility. Here are pictures of two of them, Fr. Bill and Fr. Clem. Also, below is a poem from my experiences last week. 


Fr. Bill Neidhart, CSC and I served at Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Burbank, California




Fr. LeRoy Clementich, CSC and I served at Sacred Heart Church (Tri-Community) in 1984.


Retreat Week

 A tiny American tree sparrow outside my window

Perched in a thick shrub

Protected its wings from the heavy snow

During the wintry week


On the inside of Holy Cross House

The elderly men in wheelchairs or leaning on canes

Built a fort of hope

Struggled to pray with stiff fingers


We endeared ourselves to the Cross of Jesus

Postponing despair for another day


We prayed into Mary’s sorrows from our earthly experience

Whittling new insights from strokes or bitterness


We told family stories and laughed at jokes one more time

Opening up a memory album

Even celebrating our first saint

Andre Bessette

Meeting him at the door of our fragile hearts

Where healing miracles still live


We built a fire on the altar where bread and wine

Sparked the Real Presence of Jesus and

The priests held up their hands to warm themselves


Against the clipped-wing regrets–

Moving into this common home

From various countries


In these wintery and blustery days

Just before an eternal spring



– Ronald Raab, CSC





On the Margins: John 3:14-21


On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018


Gospel  JN 3:14-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.


The Fourth Sunday of Lent: My bulletin cover art and column

March 11, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2018


Dear Believers in the Christ,

In today’s gospel, John 3:14-21, “Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

This passage invites us more deeply into the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. In these Lenten days, we explore the meaning of Jesus’ cross within our own lives. We learn to surrender our sin to the Father; we learn that our redemption lies in the merciful presence of Jesus who was lifted high on the cross so that we may live more fully in God’s Kingdom.

We live the cross every day. Through our body pain, our divorces, our job loss, our depression, our fear, and our efforts that seldom are recognized, we lift up our human nature to be transformed and redeemed in faith. Here we find the gift of surrender, the path to Jesus’ love and mercy. Living such faith is hard to come by because we seldom want to give up our opinions about what we think is correct. We seldom want to find our path toward humility. We are trained to always have the answers and to be on the defensive among the problems of the world.

Faith calls us into something more. Faith in Jesus Christ allows us to live in the heartfelt, merciful presence of love. Discovering this life is at arms length for most of us. Living the mission of the cross means that we discard our protective layer of hardness, superiority and our human authority, and surrender to the presence of Jesus. People who struggle from any addiction understand that their lives need God. People who have faced tragedy and loss know the emptiness only God can fill. People who have battled disease understand the meaning of the cross.

The religious community to which I belong, the Congregation of Holy Cross, views the cross at the center of our lives. In the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the guiding documents of our religious life, we read:

114. Jesus entered into the pain and death that sin inflicts. He accepted the torment but gave us joy in return. We whom He has sent to minister amid the same sin and pain must know that we too shall find the cross and the hope it promises. The face of every human being who suffers is for us the face of Jesus who mounted the cross to take the sting out of death. Ours must be the same cross and the same hope.

115. To struggle for justice and meet only stubbornness, to try to rally those who have despaired, to stand by the side of misery we cannot relieve, to preach the Lord to those who have little faith or do not wish to hear of him … our ministry will hint to us of Jesus’ suffering for us.

Blessings to you on the journey,

Fr. Ron


Ex 20 and John 2: “Are you really a jealous God?”

Version 5


“Are you really a jealous God and

Will you really put your ear to my mouth

And hear me in my struggles

And will I find in your words a home to rest my soul

And will you keep me from harm

Even when I want to give my soul to something else and

Seek my kinship among other gods

As violence and hatred and distress and lust and

If I really call out to you in this Lenten season

Will you turn my heart upside down and

Snap a whip into my conscience to place a new wisdom

From your mouth into my soul and

If I really discover that in your death and resurrection you will

Build up a temple in three days

Will I really be part of your plan

To renew the earth and your church

In all the silliness of my soul

And will you help me be part of the renewal

You desire for the world when we

Settle for less

Other than you

In our addictions to apathy and unkindness and

When we are stuck pointing guns to others

Rather than an open handed gesture of peace

And will you really remove

All the indecency within my heart

So that it will soar in the morning breeze

And come to know

That you want more than anything

For me and

For all of us

To rest in you lap and

Listen to your words and find you

In all the chaos of our lives

And will you really mend our divorces and

Carry with you our grief from our tired dreams and

What if you clean our hearts

As you did the Temple and

We finally make room for you to be our God

Will you at last cast mercy on us sinners and

Take us by the hands

So that we will follow you

to the cross and

To your empty grave

And be released in your love and tenderness at Easter

Again and again

Not apologizing for the past

But opening us to a new path

So that we will finally come to the conclusion

That you and

You alone

Are a jealous God

And that we are your beloved?”





On the Margins: John 2:13-25


On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Third Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2018


Gospel JN 2:13-25

Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
many began to believe in his name
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.


Third Sunday of Lent: Bulletin cover art and column


March 4

Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Dear Followers of Jesus,

In our first scripture reading today (Exodus 20), God proclaims to us, “I am a jealous God.” This statement is more than a statement; rather these words are an invitation for us even in our generation to make God the center of our lives and loves. The text outlines the Ten Commandments. However, the text is more than suggesting we live by external rules and obligations. This scripture invites us into a deep and profound intimacy with God.

Our gospel today also proclaims such an intimacy when Jesus is upset with how people are treating the Temple area. He is trying to tell them He is the source of love, the new temple. His body will become the new temple, all that is our hearts’ desire. His own action of passion, death and resurrection will show us the way to the Father. He tosses out the abuse he sees when we get caught up in the trap that faith is a commodity and we objectify our faith.

In these Lenten days, we capture a glimpse that God desires the best for us. We are invited on a journey where all the obstacles in life need to be removed from our hearts so that our hearts have a clear and direct path to Christ Jesus. Our sin and division, our lack of peace, our fighting and anger, are all objects Jesus desires to toss out of the temple of His body so that we can find the peace, forgiveness and mercy that is available to us. Our home is in the heart of Christ Jesus and we are invited to live our lives with such hope to other people.

We must be careful that our faith is lived from the call of Christ Jesus and not determined by our political or social persuasions. In the center of violence and chaos, we must remember that God calls us into his nature that is peace and harmony. In the midst of unrest and a lack of forgiveness on our streets and at our breakfast tables, we must remain clear that is not God’s nature. God’s integrity challenges us into heartfelt forgiveness and hope. This is not passive faith. Faith for us is profoundly a challenge of humility and this only happens with a great deal of self-reflection and prayer.

Living lives that keep God at our center is not an easy Lent. However, through our faith comes an entirely new way of viewing the world and all of our relationships. God desires our complete and trusting hearts, our ways of thinking and acting in our world. God desires our total hearts to rest in Him, for He is a jealous God. Let nothing stand in the way of this notion during our Lenten days.

How is God calling you to give every aspect of your life, every moment of violence and every sin, to Him during this Lenten journey?

Peace to you,

Fr. Ron


Genesis 22 and Mark 9: “What if I find the courage to follow you?”


“What if I find the courage to follow you up the steep mountain

Will I be able to see your face differently

Or will I stumble

Over my own sinfulness or pride or

Will you challenge me

To sacrifice my own son or

Will my own flesh be enough

To satisfy your longing

For me

Or will I be able to have an open ear to hear the story of my ancestors

Or will I be deaf to all the ways you want to speak to me and

Will I be able to stand in a cloud with the ancient ones

Who have taught me so much to listen carefully

To your voice

Or will I collapse along the way overwhelmed from the weight of the world today

That ignores such challenges and deaf to such calls

And will the mountains of gun violence and losing our children

Be enough sacrifice as you tested Abraham

In our schools and in our malls

Or is it enough to journey along desert lands

In our world to discover the shortage of water and melting glaciers

And journey into the oceans and see the plastics that wildlife choke on

Or how do you want my journey to be even when it is within my own house

At my breakfast table when my children

Do not want to speak to me

Is that desert enough

Or a high enough mountain to climb

When their silence becomes such walls

And their addictions are more rugged and taller than any mountain

Or how should I climb up to you in this Lenten journey

And will I be able to listen to your consoling voice

Or treasure the glory of your light and

Will I find you

And me

Together in new shadows

Giving me the courage and the forgiveness

I need to simply ask

The question

What if I find the courage to follow you?”

On the Margins: Mark 9:2-10


On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Second Sunday of Lent, February 25, 2018


Gospel MK 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.