Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Luke 1:39-56, Reflection, Art

Monday August 15, 2022

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dear Followers of Jesus,

In Luke 1:39-56, Mary, pregnant with Jesus, encounters Elizabeth who is pregnant with John. Even the two unborn children seem to greet each other. This communion of love offers us a glimpse of the beauty of Mary’s life and fidelity.

God desires communion with us and we desire communion with God. In Mary’s, “yes”, she remains open to receive God and she holds in her heart all the she longs for. She maintains the love and promise of God given to her as a young girl.

In her communion with Elizbeth, Mary speaks the words of a prophet. Mary declares from her young lips that God scatters the proud in their conceit. He casts down the mighty from their thrones. He lifts up the lowly. The hungry are fed with good things and the rich are sent empty away.

Mary held in her heart all that was important for her entire life. Her prophetic witness to God was manifest in her heart, in her willingness to bear a son and care for him until death. Mary knew God’s desire for her and for the world.

We are called to do the same. We celebrate Mary’s Assumption this day because we understand that her heart held God’s desire for her and for us. She was the first to receive the promise of her Son, that heaven would be open to us all.

We are challenged to hold what is most important within our hearts. We are being formed as prophets since we know Jesus Christ. We desire communion with Him. We desire all that is good for the world and for our wellbeing. We can’t forget our witness to God’s fidelity toward us. We can’t forget his love for us under heaven. Mary challenges us not to forget and to live our lives as bearers of such a mystery, that Jesus Christ died and rose to save all people.

 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

Saint Maximillian Kolbe, Priest, Martyr. August 14, 2022. Painting and Reflection from 2015

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr, 1894-1941

This is a crude finger painting. It is meant to be incomplete and simple because there is no easy way to interpret this man’s faith, life and death. This Polish Franciscan priest died in Auschwitz on this day in 1941.

Crown: The red crown was given to him in a vision when he was 12 years old. He had a vision of Mary who presented him with two crowns, one white that would become his reward in heaven, then a red crown, representing his martyrdom. He accepted both crowns from Mary, the Mother of God. 

Mary, the Mother of God: Mary’s appearance to Maximilian gave him purpose in life. Notice how the blue beads of the rosary co-exist and even blend into the barbed wire. I must believe that the painful pieces of wire in the concentration camp became a rhythm of prayer for him. The wire knots of the fence became a sequence of prayer so that he could keep his faith alive. As the artist, I hold on to this notion. 

The brown shirt: Fr. Kolbe was a Franciscan priest. He dedicated his life to the proclamation of the gospel; the passion, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. The red mark represents the martyr of martyrs, Jesus. 

The prisoner uniform: At the same time, he was a prisoner and his number was, 16670.

The drops of blood on his face: There were ten people put to death by lethal injection. The blood stains represent those who died with him. The blood comes from the martyrs crown. He took the place of a man who had a wife and children. That man was then present at this canonization in 1982. 

The green background: The green background represents hope for the people who died and hope for the people who lived through such anguish and suffering. The green backdrop invites us all into our own suffering and the realization that “everything will be all right.” I believe this message is the key to his priesthood. I know it is the eternal message of my own priesthood. 

The gold halo: Maximilian’s halo is hope to us all, that our faith in Jesus, in the suffering of this world, leads us safely home. 

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Luke 12:49-53. Reflection.

Sunday August 14, 2022

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Followers of Jesus,

In Luke 12:49-53, Jesus desires us to live in the fire of his passion for the world. He invites us to know within our hearts the profound love of God. Love sparks hope in people who have lost their way. The fire Jesus describes is the continuation of the prophetic witness of forgiveness, mercy, love and hope for all people. This fire is found in suffering, in anguish, and in change. We are initiated into this fire through our connection to Jesus Christ in our baptism.

In these past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with friends across our nation. Many of these conversations have stirred my heart. I have heard about recent divorces, ill children, bouts of depression, changes in relationships, questions about faith, disillusionment about church and participating in local parishes. Some people have given up on prayer and seeking a spiritual life. We seem to be at a time of great change, both good and extremely challenging.

The fire Jesus desires is his life within us. When change overwhelms us, we so often squelch the remedy for our unstable hearts. We ignore the relationship with God that can save our souls, restore our perspectives, and give us courage when life is really difficult. We give up because Jesus seems so distant when violence prevails and friends die unexpectedly. We give up seeking the intimacy with God when busyness pushes in on us, when we think we can control our days and relationships.

Jesus desires us to live in the center of his fire. His compassion for us is not diminished by our disappointments or failures. I invite you to rest in the flame of love this day. Open your heart to Jesus’ potential within you. Allow the flame of goodness to take root in your heart. Jesus will heal your perspectives of doubt and failure. Jesus will ignite your ability to live and serve. Justice begins with the flame of Jesus’ love within each of us.  

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!

God give you peace,

Ron

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time: JN: 12:24-26, Reflection

August 10, 2022

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Recently, I drove the backroads through farm country in Indiana. I caught the crops at their peak. Perfectly pruned grass, cornrows at culmination, lined the narrow roads through small towns. I caught sight of the crops that had been perfectly watered and on that day the sun shone on the miracles of growth and beauty.

I experienced the crops in full growth. However, they will not stay that way. Autumn will bring another phase. Leaves will drop, the corn will be harvested. Change will happen. Winter will come. The growing season will end. The snow and bitter cold will halt growth. Waiting for life will be around the corner once again. It will all happen to prepare for another growing season next year.

We believe in the Paschal Mystery. Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection is the core mystery of faith. If we believe in him, then that pattern will form our lives. We must learn to die to ourselves and rise in him alone. It is not an easy path. Learning to live in him requires faith in the mystery that he lives within us. Faith in Jesus Christ means we follow the suffering, the death, the letting go, so to find our lives vitally aware of his love and guidance.

In JN 12:24-26, the path to love, to freedom, to living our real lives, comes in the grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying. This is our lives. This is our letting go of certainty to embrace mystery. We so want to cling to perfection, to ego, to doing the correct next thing. In fact, to live our faith in the love Jesus gives us is to surrender to the life we have and not the life we think we should have. To live in him is to let go and find our souls singing along the road that leads to the Kingdom of God.

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Accountability, Healing, and Trust: Preaching in and for a Wounded Community. University of Notre Dame, March, 2022.

I am so grateful to finally have this video available to the public. This conference was held at the University of Notre Dame, March 2022. Here is my presentation on, Preaching in and for a Wounded Community. The three-day event focused on clergy sexual abuse within the church.

Many thanks to Professor David Clairmont and Professor Kim Belcher for inviting me to participate in this conference.

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time: MT18:1-5, 10, 12-14, Reflection

St. Mary’s Lake, Notre Dame, IN

9 August 2022

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Recently, a young father described to me the tenderness of holding his new son in the middle of the night. He feels most alive when he embraces his flesh and blood. He listens more attentively to the cooing, the crying, and the laughter from the young child in the silent night. His dreams for his son become so visible to his imagination and heart when in the dark they are comforting each other.

In MT 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14, we listen to Jesus describe how the child teaches us to live. The vulnerability of a child reveals our dependence on the very heart and mercy of God. We know that Jesus invites us into a relationship of sheer beauty, of relying solely on love, tenderness and kindness. We are our Father’s child.  In our baptism, we are special heirs of the Kingdom. God sees our potential and will not let us be separated from him.

I believe Jesus chases us because we are also comfort to him. He wants us to know we belong to him and to the flock. He wants us to be open to the sound of God’s voice when we think we know the best path for us. Jesus desires us to strip away our wealth, our egos, our sense of certainty, to live more fully in the mystery of God. This mystery is revealed to us most especially when we are lost.

I listened with great delight to the young father. The look on his face was sheer joy. The youthful dad had been through many rough moments in life. He is now on a path of inner integrity and joy. His life is worth more as he captures a moment in the nighttime to comfort his son. He belongs to his son and his son belongs to him.  

And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Luke 12:32-48, Reflection

Read today’s scriptures here

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 7, 2022

In Luke 12:32-48, we hear the urgency of the Kingdom. Sell everything, prepare. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. Organize space in your hearts on earth, not for riches and prestige, but for God who promises a bounty of love and lush mercy.

In Luke’s community, they anticipated the return of Jesus Christ. Luke wanted to make sure everyone was prepared for the Master. This text in summertime is a reminder not to take our lives for granted. All belongs to God. All belongs. Everything leads us to the Kingdom.

Our hearts ache for people who have lost everything in summer fires in California, horrific floods in Kentucky, and so much more in between. Wars flare. Climate fluctuates. Uncertainty prevails for many. For us who have much, we live to help others in need. We remain united on earth as we search for the Kingdom of Heaven.

This passage from Luke speaks to me. I arrived at Notre Dame on Thursday, carrying with me more than I could store. My attachments sit before me. My future home and ministry are yet to be known. This moment in life is an opportunity to fully realize the treasures that awaits in my heart. Patience. Wait. Be vigilant.

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.