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

Sept. 9, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Believers in the Christ,

Mark’s gospel (7:31-37) is evocative and challenging. Jesus clears the ears of a deaf man and releases his tongue to hear and to speak. “Be opened!” is not just a command from centuries ago. This phrase becomes a foundational posture to live as a believer in Christ.

The Church needs all of us to wake up, to clear our throats and speak the truth. I believe this is one of the most challenging times in our Church in recent centuries. We need our ears opened and voices strong in dealing with issues of secrecy, abuse and cover up. We need to seek God in this crisis and I hope you will not walk away from worship and from Christ Jesus.

We celebrate this week two feasts that give us a new clarity in how to deal with the hypocrisy of the Church. The first is the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross on September 14. All pain and suffering is offered to Christ. The victory of the cross is lived in us, and we need to live this reality with unbridled trust and love. We have nothing to lose in Christ Jesus. He is the source of healing, forgiveness and strength.

The Congregation of Holy Cross also celebrates its feast day this week. It is not the Exultation of the Holy Cross because we were not named for the cross. We were named after a village in France named Holy Cross. So our Patroness is Our Lady of Sorrows celebrated on September 15. My painting on the bulletin cover is an image of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows.

Mary stood by the suffering of her son, Jesus. There are seven sorrows in the scriptures where Mary is present and unable to change the suffering Jesus is going through. She cannot wish it away. She cannot control the suffering of her son. She cannot heal it or change that it would not happen to him.

I offer Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows as a model of how we deal with suffering. We stand by such immense suffering and we offer it to Christ Jesus. This posture of fidelity is really real in our day. We know that sex abuse is about power and not about sex. This understanding we need to bring to Mary so that Jesus may help us recognize that only his power will change people, including the hierarchy of the Church.

Mary also helps us find our voice. Although she patiently stood by suffering, she waited with a full heart of prayer, love and hope. Our voices find real meaning when we are able to wait in hope, to challenge structures, to speak boldly about the truth in Christ Jesus.

Like Mary, we need to pray for our children. With absolute abandon, we need to pray for all of our abused children and all of our children who abused others. Mary, a rock of prayer, is sure-hearted in her love of her child, Jesus. He is the one who receives our anger, rage and frustrations.

Mary will help us bless our anger. We need to turn our rage into actions of prophecy, becoming a prophetic witness to God, of truth, fidelity and beauty. Mary steadies our anger, gives us perspective and leads us to the glory of her Son, Christ Jesus.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

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