A question based on Mark 3:7-12

Version 2

 

Mark 3:7-12

He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, 
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.

 What if I could touch you and be swept up in the crowd and we all finally realize our need for you to touch us in our aches and anxieties, in our poverties and perversions, in our sins and subtle ways of denial and we finally admit that our barefoot race with the wrong crowd we were chasing strength and surety, self-reliance and separateness and what if I could touch you along with this crowd who are weary and do not know where else to turn and I finally find myself among people who know the direction to experience heartfelt healing and genuine love and authentic community and that I get so close as to smell your hand wave over us with the scent of pure grace and I grasp your arm as you pull away to feel your pulse and believe that I am like you wanting more and more to belong among those with deep faith and what if I could touch you and you could touch me and I could find in my search and in my running that it is all worth the sweat to follow the crowd whose instincts are to press against you with a crush of love and discover that we can see your breath over us and know that you are speaking tender blessings of healing through the misty air before you get into the boat?

 

 

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: Cover art and column

Jan. 14, 2018 Bulletin Cover

The quote on the cover this week is from parishioner Anna Keating, inviting us to see art and beauty as we prepare for the restoration of the church. The visual art is from Ronald Raab, CSC

 

Dear Searchers for Christ,

In Today’s gospel, John once again points into the direction of Jesus with words that we still use within the Eucharist today, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” These ancient words help us today in our search for Jesus.

At every Mass, just before receiving the Real Presence of Christ, I point into the direction the Body and Blood of Jesus. My voice proclaims these words of John, the Forerunner. At that moment in the Mass we recognize what we will receive and what we will become.

I wonder if we are paying attention? Can we really see the Lamb of God in our midst today? This invitation helps us come to terms with what Eucharist is in the first place. We are all hungry for Christ and the mercy, compassion and tenderness He brings. For many of us, we have not yet established a relationship with Christ Jesus. The Eucharist is just a commodity. We show up and get communion and we have fulfilled our obligation. What else is there? We tend to think that will get us beyond our earthly grave.

As we enter into the mystery of this new liturgical year, I invite you to be ready to respond to John’s assertion that the Lord is near. In Advent, we tried to stretch our desire for God, to cultivate in a new way a deep longing for the Divine. We must continue such a search and not give up on that longing.

At Sacred Heart, we are preparing for a restored house of prayer. We wait to find the Real Presence on a new altar. I wonder if we can imagine our lives differently as we wait for the church building? I invite you to point with your entire lives into the mystery of Christ Jesus.

The reason why we pray for people in need is that we know we must rely on the power of Christ to remedy human longing. So we pray for our children who have yet to find the mystery of Jesus. We pray for people locked up in doubt or those behind bars because they have yet to find the freedom of Christ. We pray for our immigrants, our lost, our neighbors who have lost their homes in fires, because we are all looking for the safety of home and the stability of good relationships.

Here are some questions for you to consider this week as you ponder the finger pointing of John and look into a new direction for Christ:

How is the Holy Spirit inviting you to search for Jesus?

How can you enter into the suffering of others and point to Christ?

How do you experience the Eucharist as a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ?

How might you pray with the words of Jesus this week, “Come, and you will see…?”

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: John 1: 35-42

fr_ron_and_kbvm_readingBW

On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 14, 2018

LISTEN NOW: CLICK HERE

Gospel  JN 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.

 

“What if you grasped my hand?” A reflection based on Mark 1:29-39

Version 2

Gospel MK 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

“What if you grasped my hand?”

What if you grasped my hand as I open my bent fingers toward you from my restlessness in the nighttime so to shake me out of my resistance to rest in you and what if I finally found you in my sleepwalking here on earth or what if you took me by the hand to guide me into a deep peace where worry melts away and we are in union or what if you bend down to listen to me cry out for the sound of your voice and the warmth of your cheek or what if you lead me unto a path of my delight where all my doubt and sin could be trampled down and harvested and burned and forgotten about or what if you took my hand and I could finally realize that you have led me through unknown forests of denial and uncertainty my entire life and I was simply not aware and I am finally waking up to how you have loved me or what if you take me by the hand and my heart finds what I most desire and the healing that will bring me real freedom and joy and what if you bend down from the heavens and lift me up and I learn from you finally how to bend down to the needs of others and help lift up people I would rather not find at my fingertips and we finally learned to walk together on the earth where there are no separations of rich and poor or gay and straight or hopeless and joyful or powerful and marginalized or what if I finally stopped clenching my fists and raised my hand to you to receive you half way and I fell into your embrace and I finally quit squirming and I fell asleep in your arms?

 

 

Epiphany 2017: “What if I follow?”

IMG_0467

“What if I follow?” Epiphany 2017 Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

“What if I follow?”

What if I follow the light and you are not home or if I follow and I bring all the gifts that I hope you will enjoy and you do not accept me or what if I follow what I think is the light and it is still my own power and self-sufficiency and pride and arrogance and I find myself basking in my own light that I cannot see the light that is in your face or what if I follow and all the pain in me is not changed and I come to the conclusion that the journey was not worth it or do I really have to be in the dark to follow the light to where you are or what happens with my past will I just wring my hands and stew in my own sin and will that all be left in the dust if I get to you and offer you what I think is important and the journey of my past has been a total illusion or how will I live anew if the grief I carry along my side in the nighttime is still stuck to the roof of my mouth and I will not have the courage to speak what I truly need and hope for and by the way I am not certain that I should bring hope with me because I am so stubborn to change anyway because I really like living in the dark that I carry in my heart after all as it gives me identity and I am not sure that I want to lose my identity on my journey through the darkness and to find you sitting on your mother’s lap under the beam of the star where I long to be relaxing in your mercy and forgiveness and comfort as I hold you in my arms at the same time you hold me in your heart as you long for me with all the love that is yours and now mine and for the whole world?

Epiphany 2017: Cover art (St. Andre) and article

Jan. 7, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

This weekend, the Universal Church celebrates the memorial of Saint André Bessette. Brother André is the first saint in the Congregation of Holy Cross. He ministered in Montreal and the people of Canada are proud of his life, his mission to heal and his canonization that took place in Rome in 2010.

The cover painting for this bulletin was first published in AIM Magazine in December 2017. I painted the image of Brother André to coincide with an article I wrote for that issue of the magazine.

I find Brother André incredibly fascinating. He was a sickly child who was not expected to live. Instead, he died at 91. He grew up illiterate. In the work of the Holy Spirit, he was accepted into the Congregation of Holy Cross that is best known for education. Our religious community really did not know where to assign him so they appointed him porter at their college in Montreal. He stayed in the doorway for over 40 years. André had a great devotion to Saint Joseph, especially after his own father died when he was very young. God used that devotion to heal people as they came to the door.

In the high point of André’s ministry, he would see up to 600 people a day. He would invite them to go to confession or to Mass. He would suggest that people pray to Saint Joseph or any form of prayer. He would use oil from a lamp in the chapel to anoint some people in their pain and frustration. He offered people hope when their was little medical care accessible to them.

André would sleep only one or two hours at night. He spent the night praying for all the people who had come to him during the day. He was a simple man with an amazing life of prayer. He thought of himself as God’s little one, as God’s little puppy not only because he was short in stature, but also because he was only leading people to God through Saint Joseph. André never considered himself as a healer.

The Shrine of Saint Joseph in Montreal is a large worship center in honor of Saint Joseph, the largest in the world to honor the foster father of Jesus, and was founded by André. The money came to him through the families that had a miraculous healing. The shrine continues today and millions of people still search for healing and hope.

When we finish Sacred Heart Church, a relic of Saint André Bessette will be housed in the altar. I am so grateful that André’s presence will be in the center of our community in a real way. I look forward to praying more from the faith of Saint André for our community and parish that is also in need of healing and hope, mercy and love in so many ways. Please offer your life, your suffering, and your incompleteness to Saint André. He will lead you to God, to the love and miraculous power of Christ Jesus.

Saint Andre Bessette, pray for us!

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Matthew 2:1-12

fr_ron_and_kbvm_readingBW

On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

LISTEN NOW: CLICK HERE

The Epiphany of the Lord, January 7, 2018

Gospel MT 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

Mary, Mother of God, 2018: Painting and Prayer

IMG_0386 (1)

Mary, Mother of God 2018: Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Loving and Inspiring God, you prepare a new and unblemished welcome in our hearts for Jesus to find a home. We listen today to Mary, the Mother of God as she pondered this mystery within her heart and life. We ache for such prayer, to recognize our worth in Jesus’ life so we may be part of the plan to heal, forgive and restore the lost and forgotten. We beg you in this New Year to fill our hearts with such a memory and mystery that we may be alive with hope for the poor and peace toward all who prefer violence and hatred. Help us long for holiness and newness of justice. Help us live the serenity we seek in the promise of Jesus who lives for ever and ever. Amen

The Holy Family 2017

Version 2

The Holy Family 2017: Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

O God of all creation, you invite our souls into sure rest in your light, forgiveness and mercy. Our lives, just as they are, remain in your family. For we are nothing without you. Guide us toward the light we seek. Restore all fragile relationships. Show us how to give you praise and to live on earth with grateful hearts. Help us sweep up our worldly cares in our family homes to make ready for your presence and your peace. Ready our hearts for your coming. Give us courage to live here in your comfort without violence, war and infidelity, without shame and hatred, and without fear of others. Help us celebrate hope with abandon and peace with eternal vigor as we come to admit that you are the source of all we need.  Amen

The Holy Family: Cover art and column

Dec. 31, 2017 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Christ,

Today we celebrate The Holy Family. Tomorrow, January 1, 2018 we celebrate Mary, the Mother of God and the beginning of a New Year in our society. This week is about endings and beginnings.

However, the Christmas season extends far beyond December 25. For most people, we have moved beyond the silent night of Christmas gifts and family gatherings. We quickly have moved to our own corner again focusing on our cell phones, football games and return policies for sweaters that do not fit. For most people, Christmas has past us again. However, I want you to think about who we are, what we have celebrated and how we can become people of hope in our world.

Our Church struggles to maintain hope. In this Christmas season we come to the fulfillment of God’s revelation in our world not only in the past as a tiny baby, but now. Today is immersed in love. Today is the revelation of mercy and forgiveness. Today is the gift God gives us that cannot be returned for one that suits our size or perspective. Today is the Word of Love manifest in our actions, thoughts and energy.

We are the family of God because we are born again in baptism. This is the miracle of our second birth. We are the Holy Family! We belong to God when we invite people to be better by our words of encouragement and our works of justice.

Christmas is only a source of hope if we are willing to put our lives on the line for God and for others. Perhaps we can commit again to a life of prayer so to be used by God for the good. Perhaps we can commit our lives this year to be a better family, not only our blood relatives, but to work more diligently for our brothers and sisters coming into our country or people ravaged by war or our next door neighbors addicted to meth or cocaine or our neighbors who have just lost a job and are in need of food and clean clothing for their children or a neighbor who is growing more distant from dementia.

We cannot let the miracles of Christmas be found only in a TV movie or a Hallmark card. We are the family of God and we need to keep that awareness alive throughout the year. The miracle of Christmas becomes a deep promise of change, conversion and mercy for our own lives as we learn how to love other people.

As Christians, we still speak evil about other people. We still hold grudges and condemn many groups of people we do not understand. We are still divided by gender, race and denominations. We still have work to do as we let go of one calendar year and step into another. I invite you to take stock of your lives this day and let go of the bitterness that infests your hearts. I encourage you to find the solace of God and the rich life of being hope to other people.

Blessings in the New Year,

Fr. Ron