On the Margins: Matthew 25: 14-30

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 19, 2017

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Gospel MT 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: My Cover Art and Column

Nov. 19th Bulletin Cover

Dear Believers in Jesus, the Master,

Today’s gospel, Matthew 25:14-30, invites us to be caretakers of faith and of the world. We hold within our hearts the love of God that is entrusted to us. We are responsible to be grateful and good caretakers of our earth, our resources, our relationships and the dignity of each and every human being. We seek the words of the master, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

The word, “Eucharist,” means “Thanksgiving.” Our gratitude and thankfulness becomes a rich and rewarding prayer each week at Mass. As we reflect on the gift of how God entrusts life to us, we enter into the mystery of becoming a grateful people.

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving as a nation. This is not just a holiday for us as Christians; this is a way of life. To act with gratitude and gratefulness is an essential action of each and every follower of Jesus.

This has been an overwhelming year for many people in our country with multiple hurricanes, mass shootings, numerous floods, out of control fires, children shooting children and civil unrest on many levels. Yet, in the midst of such chaos, we are challenged to be open to God’s love and care and to find within our hearts a moment of gratitude and thanksgiving. Our prayer of gratitude must begin within our own lives.

Thanksgiving is not just sharing a turkey sandwich but an act of consciousness toward God and one another and our selves. Thanksgiving helps us realize that we do not live on our own; we do not act single heartedly. We are not self-reliant. Our lives are interdependent on the gifts, talents and actions of all people. To become a people of gratitude means that we realize that the collective wisdom of our nation must include the care for all people including the poor, the immigrant, women, people of various ethnic backgrounds and religions, and people who are much different from our selves.

Thanksgiving for us as a nation means that we celebrate diversity and all people in the love of God. I want to thank all of you who worship in our three churches, who behold the mystery of God in your own lives. This year, I am especially grateful for all the people who are making the renovations at Sacred Heart possible. Thank you for your financial resources, your energy and interests and your concerns for our future.

I am also grateful for the ways folks in our three communities offer their resources to serve people in need, for all the second collections, the preparing of food for our Lord’s Dinner and the stocking of our Food Pantry to feed hundreds of people in our area. For all the ways in which you put love into action, I am deeply grateful.

Thank you all for your faith and living that faith in real life.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

 

 

 

Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini

Today, the Church remembers the first American saint, Mother Cabrini. Here is a blog post about the window I helped design in Burbank, CA for Saint Francis Xavier Parish built on land owned by Mother Cabrini and her sisters.

Broken But Not Divided

Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini-
First American Saint

Last week I started a series on the set of nine stained-glass windows from Saint Francis Xavier Church in Burbank, CA. This next window honors Mother Cabrini. I hope you enjoy the series. The text that follows is  from a booklet I wrote in 2000 and edited by Jim Fanning. 

The history of Saint Francis Xavier Church is rooted in the life and faith of the first American saint, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini. On property owned by the religious community she founded, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, sprouted the faith community of St. Francis Xavier Parish. This window reveals the historical background of education, healing and a missionary zeal that burned bright in Mother Cabrini’s life. Within the central image of the window, Mother Cabrini is surrounded by children and adults, which speaks of her life interests in teaching the young…

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Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover and My Column

Nov. 12, 2017 Bulletin Cover

 

Dear Believers in the Living Christ,

I usually focus on the gospel in this column. However, the first scripture text, Wisdom 6:12-16 catches my attention first. “Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.” Wisdom is key to our earthy seeking of Jesus, to our way of life and our mission of the Church.

Let’s start with wisdom. Wisdom is difficult to come by in our age of technology. Bantering, unedited posts and arguments fill cyberspace and wind up in our inbox every day. Wisdom, both on the individual level and in public discourse, is not easy. Sound bites are not wisdom, no matter on television or on Twitter.

Wisdom is worth our focus in these last days of our Liturgical Year. Wisdom outlines a pattern of life that is from God and toward God. Wisdom cultivates a home within us if we are open to deep reflection, prayerful reading of the scriptures, dialogue even among those with whom we disagree, and discernment about situations and patterns in our life. Wisdom is a friend for the long run. Wisdom is a result of living a rather humble and beautiful life.

Recently, I heard that one of the results of our mobile society is that we now tend to move to cities with more likeminded people. Given technology, so many people can work from any city in the country. One of the negative aspects of such moves is that we are no longer living and working with people who have varying opinions from ours. This leads to living more rigid lives. Wisdom, true wisdom, is more difficult to discover when other people, or even the gospel itself, does not challenge us.

Wisdom is relevant for the long term. We live between Christ’s Resurrection and his Second Coming. This is the real place for wisdom, not just for individual morality, but also for our common discourse of social issues, political discussions and the moral consequences of our actions as a people. Wisdom takes time, courage and a moral life. Wisdom befriends those who believe in something more than themselves.

Today’s second reading, Thessalonians 4:13-18, also captures my attention. This reading is usually proclaimed during the Easter Vigil. This gives us hope in the interim between Jesus’ Resurrection and his return. We shall live with God all the days of our life and we should console one another with this message of compassion and hope. This is wisdom, that death gives way to new life. This is in fact what we base our lives upon; the wisdom of Jesus that his life is our salvation. Anything that disturbs this message within our hearts is not wisdom. We have life and hope to share with people. This is the message of faith that we should be sharing with one another. Wisdom is love manifest within us when we turn first to the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Blessings to you wise ones,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Matthew 25: 1-13

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On the Margins

On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

LISTEN NOW: CLICK HERE

 

Gospel MT 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time: My column

Nov. 5th Bulletin Cover

Dear Believers in the Christ,

These November days close out another Liturgical Year. The Sacred Liturgy also invites us into deep reflection on the end of time. In fact, this past week, we celebrated All Saints and All Souls. The act of prayerful reflection about our own death is part of our heritage as Christians. We do so because we believe that death is the doorway into God’s Kingdom even for the least among us.

Today’s gospel, Matthew 23:1-12, invites us into reflection about how to live on this earth in the meantime. We are called to live lives of profound integrity. If any person is to be great here on earth, then each of us is called to humility. A bloated ego gets us nowhere in faith. A life of self-importance is a life not based on the humility of the gospel. A life centered on blowing our own trumpet of power, control and egoism, is not a life that will move us into the heavenly realm.

It is never easy to practice what we preach. Take it from me, a preacher of over 35 years. I still am learning and God is patient with me. The gospel challenges us to place on other’s shoulders not burdens, but the love God has for us. We are to live what we preach by offering other people mercy and hope. This is the mission of the Church. This integration of prayer and service changes us all into humble servants of the gospel.

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” What does this mean for us? Humility means belonging to the earth. The word, humus, and humility are related. This does not mean self-deprecation or putting ourselves down. Humility means that our ultimate authority comes from God. Our voice, our actions, our thoughts are centered in learning about our true selves in God. It is very interesting that humility, being grounded in our real selves on earth, means that we find our true meaning in heaven. Humility comes from admitting that we do not have the all the answers or even know all the correct questions to ask.

We are servants of the Master. We find our lives in God alone. Humility also means that we keep learning from God. There is always something to work through, to find, to search for, to discover, to enter into, to find in our hearts when it comes to our relationship with God. We are not yet finished until God takes our breath away.

Here are some questions to consider about your own humble approach to God:

1. How do you feel when you don’t get your way in life? Where do you turn?

2. How would you define humility?

3. How does humility form your concept of death and eternal life?

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Matthew 23:1-12

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 5, 2017

LISTEN NOW: CLICK HERE

Gospel  MT 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

All Saints Day: Psalm 24,”This is the people that longs to see your face”

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Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC November 1, 2017

Responsorial Psalm PS 24:1BC-2, 3-4AB, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Column and Cover Art

October 29, 2017 bulletin cover

Cover art: Ronald Raab, CSC

Dear Followers of Jesus,

Our Sunday gospel, Matthew 22:34-40, invites us into the profound connection of God’s love and living out that love toward all people. I believe this gospel is the core of the Church’s mission and integrity in our world. We love God with heart, mind and soul and our neighbors as our selves.

Many people have dismissed Pope Francis’ emphasis of love and mercy. They do so because they believe Pope Francis is soft on the rules of the Church. I hear in conversations nearly every week that only adhering to the rules and laws of the Church will revive our sagging institution worldwide.

God’s emphasis on the beauty and mystical qualities of the dignity of all life are important to adhere to no matter what happens. However, the way we invite people into the Church must be based on love and integrity. Love never ends. Love is the ingredient that is so often lost in the Church. Love is the most important reason Jesus gave us the Eucharist and the Sacraments. Love is the reason Jesus died and rose for us sinners.

Love has changed the Pope’s heart. I believe there are two reasons for this. First of all, Pope Francis is a professed religious and a Jesuit priest. His prayer and his education are very different from his predecessors who were diocesan priests.

Second, Pope Francis has befriended many people in poverty during his entire ministry. This is the real reason how Pope Francis found love. What happens when we befriend powerless people is that we, too, need God. The ache, rawness and emptiness of a difficult life help us all turn toward the love God has for us. All we need to do to find this truth is to read the lives of the Saints.

Jesus asks us two things in life. He begs us to be open to receiving the love the Father has for each of us. He also asks us to live this love among our neighbors. We are stubborn to receive God’s love because it encourages us to change. We never want to change. We are hard pressed to let go our bloated egos. We are reluctant to let go of our culture power.

However, when we finally rest in God’s love for us, we live differently in our world. We can befriend deep pain, diversity, ambiguity and powerlessness. We can enter into the mystery that all people need God, the profound love that sets us free.

One of the ways in which we enter into a prayerful bond in our three church communities is to pray for the dead. This week we celebrate All Saints and All Souls. We also will gather on Friday, November 3 at 6:30 pm to pray with all the grieving of our parish communities for the loss of their loved ones. We celebrated nearly 40 funerals this year and we stand with the grieving in the love that God has for us all.

Blessings to you,

Fr. Ron