Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 20:1-16a, Homily

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MT 20:1-16A Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. 
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard. 
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off. 
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise. 
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage. 
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage. 
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you. 
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 
Take what is yours and go. 
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? 
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? 
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020, Cover Art, Prayers of the Faithful, Column

September 20, 2020

Dear Followers of Jesus,

To our human experience, today’s gospel may seem unfair. The parable presented in Matthew 20:1-16 shows that God waits for us and offers us opportunity and entrance into the Kingdom even at the last minute. God’s generosity is overwhelming to our finite and selfish approach to life. Let’s explore this.

The landowner hired people early in the morning for his vineyard. He also saw people waiting to be hired throughout the day, even at the very last working hour of the day. All of them received a daily wage. The workers who were hired first were jealous.

Our society is hardwired for a sense of entitlement. So often we raise our children with a sense that they can do no wrong and that they deserve the best. Sometimes our children do not understand that they have to work hard, to put themselves out in the world to take risks. Those risks often produce hardship and complications and no person ever gets only his or her way in life.

This gospel seems unfair, that the person hired last should get the same benefits as the person who worked all day. Yet, this is a parable about something greater than our earthly work. This parable is a story about our place in God, our place in the love, hope and forgiveness of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We all have a place in God. This statement often makes people crazy. We blame people for their sin, their poverty and their lack of education and we wonder how God could love them and accept them as well. We find it hard to believe that God loves the public sinner, the hardened criminal, the outcast and the marginalized.

God loves us far beyond the external of life. God treasures the human heart and wants to dwell within each of us. We are God’s creation and God has the right to enter into the mystery of every human heart. Our prayer always should be that of rejoicing, of gratitude that God is generous toward every human being. God’s love is extravagant.

Salvation is free. We do not earn our place in God’s Kingdom. We do not earn his tenderness here on earth. God’s mercy, forgiveness and presence is free, a real and treasured gift no matter who stubborn we are or how jealous we are toward other people.

I pray for us all that we could finally realize that salvation comes not on our earthly perfection or sense of entitlement, but on the true and inviting nature of God’s fidelity toward every human being. If we could internalize today’s parable, we could change the world.

The gifts that I offer for the growth of the Kingdom are…

My response to God’s generosity toward me is….

My prayer for when God is generous toward other people is…

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prayers of the Faithful

Let us pray to seek the Lord with every thought, action and good intention. May we open our hearts to God’s peace for our world, and the love that inspires mercy.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for governments through out our world, that leaders of nations may bring about justice that nourishes every human soul under heaven.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for wisdom in our Church, that we may seek the tenderness of heaven in every situation on earth. We pray that hope will be the foundation of life for all people.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for families who have lost loved ones, homes and jobs during recent fires in our western states. For all who face loss from the hurricanes and floods in the south. May God’s healing be from east to west. We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our elderly parishioners and family members who live in nursing homes and elder care facilities, that their lives may be connected to love, consolation and understanding.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for people who are ill and for our family members who live with mental illness. May people suffering depression or schizophrenia find comfort and peace.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our beloved dead and for those whom we remember in this Eucharist. In this Mass we pray for…

We pray to the Lord.

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows 2020

September 15, 2020

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, offers us a tender image of faith. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, stood next to the cross of Jesus. Zachariah foreshadowed such a death after Jesus’ birth. Mary spent her entire life lifting up the suffering of Jesus. She was unable to change the course of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. She beheld for the rest of us that pain and suffering lead us to Kingdom love. Her motherhood gives hope even today.

I have lived my priesthood deepening this image of Mary in prayer. She speaks to me. She consoles me. This image offers me a healing balm when my own life is unsteady and unsure. She speaks loudly across the generations. All mothers seem to understand such a place and posture in their lives with their children.

I remember as a child my own mother coming to the bathroom in the middle of night when I was sick. She held my forehead. I still hold such a gesture in my heart. This was truly a mother’s place in the course of raising a child. I can still feel her hand on me when I am ill today.

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is the Patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross. She gives us consolation and helps us witness to the suffering of people. At Sacred Heart Church, there are several images of pierced heart of Mary with seven swords. The Seven Sorrows in the gospel reveals the many times Mary witnessed the suffering of her son.

I cling to the image that Mary stood next to suffering. This has become one of my sure foundations for ministry. I claim this posture in my priesthood when I anoint a child who is dying or steady my thumb to anoint a dying parishioner who I know has given his or her entire life to raising children and believing in Jesus.

I remember my twenty years of ministry among people with HIV/AIDS. In those early years, it was the mothers who would contact me to pray with their child. The mothers wanted the best for such suffering, especially when they felt so powerless because there was no remedy or cure. I have walked with many mothers to the graves of their children. They not only rely on Mary for help but also have become such witnesses in our world.

I pray for our children sleeping on concrete at our borders, perhaps we can go beyond the political and see them as Mary views them. Perhaps we can see again our children being trafficked around the world. We can really see differently even the mothers and daughters who survive the violence of war or the starvation from poverty.

I pray Mary will hold the racial tensions we face today in her care. I pray she will ease the hatred we hold under our skins for those whose skins also know Jesus. I pray she bends our hearts toward her Son, Jesus. I pray she will teach us how to live among those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, those who need care to rebuild from fires. I pray she will wipe all hatred and blame from our hearts. I pray she will walk with us to political elections and open our hearts to see what Jesus sees. I pray she will help us mend the divides of the Church. I offer prayers and intercessions today that she will show us all how to stand next to suffering and not condemn the sinner, the outcast. I know I cannot change the horrific suffering of the world, but I can learn from Mary how to hold the hand of those who need me at the hour of death. I pray today that Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows will teach us all how to stand next to people’s suffering and help us all redeem every aspect of suffering in her son, Jesus.

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is not a pietistic notion of faith, but she is a real model for how to live our lives in Christ Jesus. She becomes a radical mother bringing mercy and tenderness to lives when suffering cannot be changed. She could not fix Jesus. She could not take his pain away. However, she gives us the joy of putting our faith into practice among the vulnerable and lonely.

Lean into the mystery of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows,

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows: Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2020

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2020

Triumph of the Holy Cross: Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2020

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2020

Today, we celebrate the paradox of Jesus dying on the wood of the cross and the victory of his resurrection. We bend our knees to his love for humanity. We wait to be converted by his love within the suffering we face this day.

I invite you to kneel before him. I invite you to kneel before the sufferings of people in your silent prayer.. We kneel without blame. We kneel without political colors. We kneel because this paradox is the source of our identity in life, the Church, in our families, in our neighborhoods. This cross is the way to new life. We offer him everything that creates hopelessness, suffering, and despair within us.

Jesus, we bend our knees on behalf of those facing the consequences of fire in our western states. We pray for the children who have lost homes, the parents who may never be able to build again. We pray for the fear that settles in ash, for their loss of possessions, memories and histories. We pray for the loss of trees, of water, and natural resources. We pray for the birds who built nests upon the earth, for wild animals who survived in the forests. We pray for people who are now homeless and who face years of financial and family struggle.

Jesus, we bend our knees on behalf of those who face the hurricane in the south. We pray for those who face yet one more time, the loss of everything. We pray on our knees for those who will be waist high in water and loss.

Jesus, we bend our knees on behalf of our nation that remains so divided. We bend our knees for those who live in rage and anger about their lives. We bend our knees on behalf of people who have made their identity from one political color or the other. We bend our knees not to our country, but to you alone.

Jesus, we bend our knees to you, the crucified, on behalf of our divided Church. We pray for those who claim the past as the only answer. We pray for those who have given up on the Church completely as a way forward. On our knees today, speak to us of how love must be our guide, how your kindness is our road home.

Jesus, we bend our knees today on behalf of those who suffer from our world’s pandemic. We offer up to you the suffering of those who have lost a loved one. We lift high to you those who have lost their businesses and support systems.  We lift high our children who face anxiety. Depression and loss have made a home within us all. We bend our knees to you, the source of healing. Deliver us from angry politics and ill will toward a virus. We bend our knees in absolute surrender to your holy name.

Jesus, we bend our knees to you. Lift us from the darkness we face. Lift us into seeing once again the beauty and joy of your life within us.

Amen

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: MT16: 21-27, Homily

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CLICK HERE to listen to today’s homily

Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

 

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020:Bulletin Column, Art, Prayers of the Faithful

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August 30, 2020

Dear Followers of The Christ,

Today’s gospel, MT 16: 21-27, challenges us in faith and action. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

In these past months, we have witnessed many people extend their lives in order to help others. Healthcare workers give their time, expertise, and energy in order to help people in emergency rooms and hospitals in these COVID-19 days. We see parents stretch their budgets and time to take care of children at home while schools are closed. We have seen many people go way beyond their normal tasks to take care of the wellbeing of many other people. They lose their control over what is the norm in order to help other people survive in these very complicated months.

These are examples of extending our lives to people in need.  God’s love invites us to live for other people. Love really does change things. We do not help others because it makes us look good. We give ourselves to others because this is the correct thing to do. Christ’s challenge to live for others is at the core of our faith. The Paschal Mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of Christ reveals to us that letting go and learning to live in him and serving our neighbor is at the heart of the Christian life.

Our faith molds us into service, into a life of self-giving and not self-hoarding. Congressman John Lewis died last month. When he peacefully demonstrated by walking across the Edmond Pettus Bridge in 1965, John carried a backpack. He carried in the backpack two books because he thought he might be arrested. The books would accompany him in jail. Instead, he was in the hospital because he was beaten. One of the books was written by Fr. Thomas Merton, a Roman Catholic monk at Gethsemane. The focus of his demonstration and non-violent protest was faith. John said that only love can do this, only love can change things. John Lewis was a great example of someone of faith learning how to lose his life for the benefit of others. John trusted in the love and in the cross of Christ Jesus.

We have forgotten how much faith was at the heart of change, at the heart of desiring racial equality and respect for people. For example, Martin Luther King was a man of deep faith. He was a great orator because he was first a preacher. Faith changes life and changes how we view people who are different from ourselves. We give our lives in order to save other people. When we have the genuine experience of Christ’s love, then that love compels us into the world to help create a better place in which to live. We pass on to the next generation this love, a tender realization that life has meaning and purpose.

We learn to give what we have for the benefit of other people. Our lives of faith are not meant to be hoarded, but we are called to live in real freedom for the benefit of others. Somewhere we have abandoned love, we have abandoned true faith that works for the common good. Faith is far more than for our personal redemption. Our faith imitates the life of Christ Jesus and compels us into a prophetic voice and action in the world.

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron

 

 

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 30, 2020

Let us pray for those who carry the cross of burden, of oppression, and hopelessness, that faith in Christ Jesus may bring justice to every person under heaven.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for the wearied and the lost, that the Heart of Christ may heal and sanctify our lives wounded by violence.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for all who thirst for holiness and peace, that the Holy Spirit may direct our lives into concord and harmony within the Catholic Church.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray that we may change our language of hatred into healings words of unity and hope among our families and in our communities.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for those who are bored by life, that the Holy Spirit may guide every heart into wisdom and work for the common good.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for those wearied by grief and loss, that we may remember our dead with courage and fond memories. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Monica 2020: Litany and Art

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Saint Monica: Pencil by Ronald Raab, CSC 2020

 

Saint Monica, pray for us.

Saint Monica, patron of alcoholics, pray for us.

Saint Monica, patron of victims of abuse, pray for us.

Saint Monica, patron of victims of adultery, pray for us.

Saint Monica, patron of widows, pray for us.

Saint Monica, patron of mothers facing family difficulties, pray for us.

Saint Monica, intercede for our wayward children on the road to the Father, pray for us.

Saint Monica, intercede for the healing of our families facing poverty and hunger, pray for us.

Saint Monica, intercede that we find intimacy and calm in the Holy Spirit, pray for us.

Saint Monica, intercede for ill children at the breasts of their mothers, pray for us.

Saint Monica, pray for us.

 

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 16: 13-20, Homily

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CLICK HERE to listen to today’s homily

Gospel

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.