Fourth Sunday of Lent: John 9:1-41

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“How were your eyes opened?” Drawing: Ronald Raab, CSC

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Dear Followers of the Light,

Lent is a renewal of our journey toward the Light of Christ. The Resurrection reveals our hope and our journey toward God. At the Easter Vigil we will ignite a new fire and carry the new Paschal Candle into a dark church. Lent opens our eyes and the desires of our soul to find our true path in Jesus Christ.

Today’s second reading from Ephesians (5:8-14) states, “You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness…” We are very aware of the darkness we carry in our hearts in these Lenten days. We carry doubt and despair, anger and rage, hatred and violence. We stumble in the darkness of our addictions, our lashing out and blaming others for our problems, and even watching our children make unfortunate decisions. The Light of Christ brings us into the hope of living a life that is kind and merciful. The Light of Christ leads us onto a path of love.

Today’s gospel (John 9:1-41) is the second conversion story in the Scrutinies for our Elect who are preparing for the Easter sacraments. This story of a man born blind opens our own lives up to the promises Jesus is making for us as well. There are many aspects to our blindness. This healing story is a metaphor for our own spiritual blindness. We may be blind to the gifts of our grandchildren or to our own depression. Our blindness keeps us from seeing the effects of alcohol in our family or the ways hopelessness gets pasted down from generation to generation. Blindness causes us to stay locked in our attitudes about gun violence or the role of drugs in our cities. Blindness paralyzes us when we need to make decisions about what is best for our families or when we just cannot comprehend the impact of our negative actions on our relationships. Blindness is a spiritual tool in which we need Jesus to offer his healing touch not just on our eyes, but also within our hearts.

Here are some lessons to learn from the blind man this week:

The blind man’s eyes were open and he saw Jesus. How are you longing to see the person of Jesus restore your own life of faith? What are you asking for Jesus to do for you in this Lenten season? How can you find your way through the darkness of doubt, stubbornness and anger to find the healing touch of Christ Jesus?

The blind man testified to others that Jesus healed him. How can you testify to others in your family, neighborhood or in our parish to what Jesus is doing in your life? How can you learn to see Jesus with not only your vision, but with new insight in your heart? How can you testify to others that Jesus is the true light for your life, the forgiveness that you hope for? How does this story relate to the Light given to you in your baptism?

Blessings in the Light of Christ,

Fr. Ron

The Annunciation of the Lord, Solemnity

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“Do not be afraid, Mary” Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC 2017

Gospel Lk 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

 

On the Margins: John 9:1-41

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 26, 2017

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN FROM MATER DEI RADIO

We are all blind. Yet, we see from the beauty and miracle of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Jesus’ light shows us a way to enlighten the darkness of doubt, war, violence and hopelessness into being people of peace. Jesus reveals love like we have not experienced before. We all see.

Mark 12:28-34 and painting

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“Love your neighbor” Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC 2017

Gospel Mk 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Psalm 95: “If today you hear his voice…”

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“If today you hear his voice…” Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC 2017

R.  If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Poem: “Voice Male”

This class exercise began when several group members spoke about being a middle child. I used this notion to create the relationships between three male children. 

 

Voice Male

 

My middle-child voice

A nuisance like thick dust on the piano

Brushed aside, past over, colored invisible

Unattached, severed from my talents or dreams

Even I disassociate from its meekness

 

My older brother’s voice

Imbedded in gym-toned biceps

Boldly in tune with disciplined beauty

My younger brother’s vocal magic

Streams across the family table with delight

Nuanced from academics and travel abroad

Perfect males according to our dad

 

Caught in birth order as a fledgling in tar

Words of blame and shame ground me

Glued to my soul, thick and bulky

Since my father caught me in the garage

Playing with the boy next door

Found, exposed

In the muck of my deepest questions

 

Now I stand on the earth, my voice rising

From healed roots, cleansed and taking flight

Imagining my head on my father’s lap

His voice shrouded in cigar smoke and rum

The day he will hold my cheek in his palm

And ask me, “ How are you, my son?”

 

 

 

 

Third Sunday of Lent: John 4:5-42

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“Woman at the Well” Charcoal: Ronald Raab, CSC 2017

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Dear Followers of Jesus,

Today’s gospel (John 4:5-42) begins with a woman coming to a well at high noon. She is there in broad daylight because she does not want to be seen. This irony is because the other women would come to the well early in the morning and she did not want to be part of that community because of her sexual history. She comes to Jacob’s well hoping to retrieve her water and then be on with her day. Instead, something amazing happens.

Jesus waits at the well for her. His interaction with her is one of the most beautiful encounters we have in the gospels. He straightforwardly tells her all that she has done in her life. He becomes the water that she seeks. He becomes the refuge, the place of hope, the encounter of deep and living water. Jesus tells her that he is the living water that she seeks, the source of forgiveness and salvation.

Jesus reminds her that she has had five husbands. She seeks the intimacy that is far from those bonds. She seeks the loving and saving relationship with the Messiah. The sun is high in the sky, yet she was in darkness. She seeks water, yet she is thirsting for so much more, for salvation itself. She is an outsider, a Samaritan, yet she seeks a new heart in the wellspring of Jesus’ love.

The woman then goes to the village and tells everyone what she has experienced. Imagine people believing this outsider, this woman, and this person with an untrusting reputation. Imagine what people would have first thought hearing what she had to say. Yet this powerless woman, shunned in the community, tells people that she encountered the person of Jesus. And they believed her!

This gospel has been proclaimed in the Church as part of the preparation for people desiring the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter. Since the early Church, this story is our story. We all wait to encounter the person of Jesus with such intimacy and love. We all wait within our hearts to hear from his voice everything that we have ever done. We wait for his tenderness and mercy, his desire to be among his people and share the depths of his love for all people.

Here are a few things to pray about this week:

The woman at the well encountered Jesus. Our lives of prayer offer us this same encounter. Pray for such a healing encounter. Pray that your life may change from inviting Jesus into your life. Pray that you may have the courage to remain with him.

The woman at the well testified to the people of the village about Jesus. Pray that you may remain in his love. How can you share with people your experience of Jesus Christ? We cannot move forward in the Church today unless we know Jesus and have the courage to offer his love to others. Pray for those who will be receiving the Easter sacraments.

Blessings in your encounter with Jesus,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: John 4:5-42

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Third Sunday of Lent: Cycle A: March 19, 2017

LISTEN NOW: CLICK HERE

The woman at the well encounters the love and compassion of Jesus. She desires to be known even though she comes to the well at noon when she knows others will not see her.  Our encounter is based on water, our own baptism connecting Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection to our own eternal life.

Poem: Worry Some

This poem was another class exercise based on worry and how it becomes a source of connection to other people, a best friend really. 

 

Worry Some

 

An inherited sleeping partner hogs the night calm

From Grandfather’s ulcer or Aunt Hilda’s Dust Bowl ranch

A wide-eyed visitor resurrected from glaring city lights

Bus fumes, cops on night crawl and live jazz from the corner bar

No place to call my own between the sweaty sheets

 

My invisible ancestor teems up with

The sleepless girl a few apartments down because her body is maturing

Or the diapered guy chained to his bed in his delirious night in 3B

Or the homeless widow thrown out of government housing perched near the streetlight

 

Rolling over again my mind clamps down

On the new mother in the apartment below

Washing an irritated bottom as she watches the new moon from the dirty window

On the jobless father pacing in the smoke filled studio kitchenette

Not to disturb his sleeping teenagers and struggling to inhale peace

On the recluse next door where the nighttime

Holds his numerous addictions secret

 

The light of dawn sides with our common curse

Poking and prodding and pushing me to

Grasp the side of the mattress for one more second

Before I swallow another pill

Before the alarm crows

Before the coffeepot clicks to “Brew”

Before the food truck backs up blaring obnoxious beeps in the alley below

Before I turn over and smell the ugly breath of morning

I give in to the one who loves me the most

 

 

 

Matthew 20: 17-28, Painting

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Christ: Painting: Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC March 2017

Gospel Mt 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”