Article from “Give Us This Day”

Give Us This Day Magazine published this article for today’s reflection on the gospel, Luke 6:36-38.

See the Mercy

I sit among the shamefaced, especially during the Lenten season. A wrinkled-faced man admits to me in our softly lit confessional that he regrets so many decisions of his past. He never offered his apologies to his wife before her death. A woman with jittery lips and red eyes cannot fully admit to God that her drinking drains her life of meaning. Some sit in my office with teary eyes and broken lives. Others wait on their deathbeds for me to stretch out my thumb covered in oil and anoint the shame away.

This is the season to restore every relationship. We long to be free from the weight of the judgments we cast on one another. We come to God in Lent with our eyes cast down and our brows furrowed, longing to discover God’s measure of mercy. God wipes shame away from our faces and offers love within our hearts.

Every Lenten season, through the mercy of God, I see full measures of love fall into the laps of those willing to come clean about their lives. When we speak the truth about our lives and our relationships in prayer and in our sacraments, gifts are given to us—“a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing.” I listen carefully to people in Lent and watch the joy of Jesus’ forgiveness emerge on the faces of strangers. I sit among the redeemed with a smile on my own face that is soul deep.

Fr. Ronald Patrick Raab

Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC, is pastor of the Tri-Community Catholic Parish in Colorado Springs. He formerly served as associate pastor at Saint Andre Bessette Church in Old Town, Portland, Oregon. Learn more at http://www.ronaldraab.com.

 

Second Sunday of Lent: Matthew 17:1-9

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The Transfiguration: Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC

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Dear Followers of the Light of Christ,

The gospel this weekend (Matthew 17:1-9), takes us all to a new perspective on a mountaintop. Last week we journeyed into the desert with Jesus to be confronted again with his temptation. This week we follow him up a mountain where he is transfigured before his disciples. Mountaintops always offer us an open and long-range perspective.

The Transfiguration is a foreshadowing of the resurrection. During this Lenten season the scriptures point us into the direction of what will happen— that all things will be redeemed in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ clothing becomes white as light. This is another image that we, too, will wear new clothing at Easter. This clothing is the garment from our baptisms. We share our life, our conversion, our hope in the Lord’s name and presence.

Jesus also is shrouded with the prophets from the past. This gospel shows us that Jesus has the authority to become a new prophet, a prophet unlike any other. The gospel also reveals the voice of God, the Father. We hear God’s voice to know that Jesus is the one to follow. Jesus also speaks to us, “Rise and do not be afraid.” This phrase echoes through this birth, death and resurrection. This also points us to the fact that we will rise with him on the last day. We shall follow him fearlessly into unknown ways where we have to let go of things that keep us from forgiveness, renewal and hope.

On this Second Sunday of Lent, the gospel is preparing us for the rest of the journey toward Easter. However, there is much in our lives that makes us fearful. Some people do not feel worthy of such a journey with Jesus. We must consider the climb of the disciples up the mountain to be in his presence, where all things will be transfigured and all sin and division will be wiped away.

The Transfiguration reveals to us not only that Jesus changes, but that our lives change as well. Keep going through the desert this Lent. Keep believing that all hardship and broken relationships will turn into real beauty and love for you. Keep moving beyond fear and pray for all people who desperately long for this transfiguration. Pray for forgiveness in your own life and pray for those who cannot forgive others that have hurt them severely.

Here are some questions to consider this week:

Place yourself in this scene with Jesus and the disciples. What amazes you and what fears arise within you? What in your life needs to be transfigured or changed in the Light of Christ? What in our world or society needs to be transfigured in the hope that Jesus redeems and loves all people?

Blessings to you as you pray with The Transfiguration,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Matthew 17:1-9

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

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Second Sunday of Lent: Matthew 17:1-9

The gospel takes us to a mountain top, to a new perspective. We are given the light of the Transfiguration of Jesus so that we may believe that all things will be transfigured in the Resurrection. The Lenten journey continues down the mountain so that we may be converted.

 

 

 

Poem: “Confession”

I wrote this poem in September, 2016 as a class exercise. The poem does not expose real confessional content but is based on genuine experience.

Confession

Grief boxes my ears like a schoolyard bully

Sorrows prance and punch like a prizefighter

Ducking and weaving to save himself

Anguish picks on me and teases my soul

These stories shoot toward me with flash and fury

 

My unprotected heart eavesdrops in the drab confessional

That a heroin addict

Just had sex in the church dumpster

With a man

In exchange for a six-pack

To manage his not-so-secret life for this morning

Until the next hit of dope

The next sucker punch

 

The narrow, dark spaces and random encounters open truth

 

My ears turn toward an elderly woman that dares to speak

About the many blows from her seven personalities

Because her mother beat her

Smeared her with feces

Left her silent in a closet

Stuffing her into an early tomb

 

Cramped spaces stifle life and hush voices

Yet repentant rage explodes from the faithful

I want to fight back

 

From the complex container of who I am

And the boxed-in notions of what we must become

A story-fire ignites in private spaces

My ears open the confines of my conscience

 

I enter the dumpster, the closet and the confessional box

Where secret voices of survival confess life at last

 

 

 

Matthew 7:7-12, Gospel and Painting

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“Ask, seek, knock” Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC

Gospel Mt 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets.”

Psalm 51: “A heart contrite and humbled”

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“A heart contrite and humbled” Finger Painting: Ronald Raab,CSC

Responsorial PsalmPS 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19

R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Poem: “Coloring”

I wrote this poem as part of a class exercise in October, 2016. It expresses a scene from second grade and my creative life.

 

Coloring

 

My thumb and forefinger pinch

A second-grade orange-red crayon

On sky-blue construction paper.

 

An Army of Crayola-Crayons forms security on my desk

To guard my inner life against boring expectations from beyond my workspace

Telling me that I should ignore my secret colors and design.

 

A rainbow of crayon soldiers protect my imagination

As they decrease in size on the rough paper.

The multicolored shades of my imagination

Overtake the black and white extremists of spelling and math.

 

My innocence shades the course-blue territory

With exciting hues of exploration.

I risk discovering outside the lines

Tracing from my instincts

Chaffing against my Catholic purity

And the finger pointing from my teacher.

 

The extra-fat-grease-stick Army stands at attention

Protecting me during Friday art class

So I may breathe

After the predictable cafeteria aromas of creamed-corn

And lukewarm fish sticks begin to fade.

 

Held up in my citadel of lines and shading

My orange-red crayon Warrior

Falls onto the floor

And rolls down the aisle

Far from my command and reach.

Just then our principal yanks open the door

Her black and white dress and veil swirl with authority.

 

Sister paces down the aisle

Like a General from the gray world

Stepping on my orange-red Combatant

And the color drains out.

A soldier is down!

The enemy of practical gray overtakes my plans.

I cannot surrender to those who want me inside the lines.

 

I wonder where I fit living with an orange-red imagination

And a soft sky-blue world inside me?

Matthew 25:31-46

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“What you did for the least brothers, you did for me” Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC

Gospel Mt 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”

 

Prayer: (Raab)

Gracious God, you give us an opportunity to move beyond our selfishness and ignorance by stepping into the mystery of people’s stories. You invite us and even give us salvation by serving people who are naked and thirsty. Keep us humble, call us to serve and guide us safely to your healing face. Amen

First Sunday of Lent: Matthew 4:1-11

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“The Temptation of Christ” Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC

This painting depicts Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Jesus is turned away from the sun, the source of light. He faces the darkness. He is juggling the non-figurative evil that he faces. He is facing ultimately the truth of his life so that his life will become a source of healing for us all. The devil does not win, evil is resisted. Deserts bring life in Christ Jesus.

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Dear Believers in Jesus,

Deserts abound. Not just hot, lonely and seemingly lifeless landscapes, but interior deserts as well. These deserts are difficult to escape. Sickness. Old age. Loneliness. Shame. Loss. Regret. Sinfulness. Broken relationships. Addiction. Fear. Revenge. Unworthiness. Greed. Lust. Self-sufficiency. These inner deserts are not easily changed or managed. These deserts capture our attention in the days of Lent.

On Ash Wednesday, we all streamed to the altar step and our human bodies were marked with the Sign of Salvation. Ashes blended together in the form of a cross were smeared on our greasy foreheads. On that day, we became unmistakable in our repentance and in our belief. This was the beginning of our Lenten entrance into a forty-day desert.

In today’s gospel (Matthew 4:1-11), Jesus enters the desert landscape. Why? He needed to face his fear. He had to encounter the darkness that can only rise up in solitude. He had to explore his relationship with evil. He had to overcome temptation. His entrance into the desert of conversion enables us to enter into our restlessness, worldly wealth and self-serving power. He had to tell us that all darkness, sin, evil and fear are overcome in his life and love. His message is not lost among the blowing sands, the hot sky, the open terrain, and the torturous sun. However, his message is easily lost among our inner deserts of isolation and pain.

“Lent,” means springtime. Lent is a time for inner renewal. Lent is a time when we are asked to face again the heat of our sin and division. Lent is a forty-day experience of prayer, fasting and almsgiving so that we can renew our baptismal connection in Christ Jesus at Easter. Lent is a time when we need to restore our relationships. We need conversion, change and hope. We cling to the love Jesus has for us because of his own journey into solitude. Deserts change people. Deserts form our hearts when we are confronted with our own lack-luster judgments and artificial pride. Deserts can bloom with hope and lead us to springtime.

Here are some ideas to consider for your Lent: Spend some time this Lenten season and pray for the people who are seeking baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist within the Catholic Church. Pray for not only our folks, but for those throughout the world who are preparing during this Lenten season. Keep a journal about your spiritual insights, the questions of your heart and how God is both loving you and calling you deeper into his healing. Examine your relationships and be honest about whom you need to forgive or who needs to forgive you. Practice a greater spiritual honesty about your life. Talk to others about how they pray. Learn about things you usually avoid such as racism, mental illness or the reality of human trafficking. Read what Pope Francis has to say. Read the daily scriptures with zeal and hope.

With hope and promise about our lives,

Fr. Ron