Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: Gospel Reflection, Cover Art, Prayers of the Faithful

July 12, 2020 bulletin cover

Please read complete bulletin, click here

 

Bulletin Column

Dear Followers of Jesus,

When I was in 8th Grade, I filled out an aptitude test. When I received the results, a graph showed my expertise as well as my low scoring. Only one subject was scored in 80-90 percentile. Everything else was in the 20-30 range. So, the one area that was my highest score was, “Agriculture.”

I am not sure if I missed my real vocation. But I do know that I enjoy watching things grow, including faith in people’s hearts. This is where today’s gospel comes in, Matthew 13:1-23.

We all know the expression, “You reap what you sow.” In other words, we get out of life what we put into it. If we offer love and peace to others, those gifts will eventually come back to us. If we perceive the world with violence and hatred and aggression, we shall receive those things bountifully.

Before we give something, we need to receive something from God. I do believe that we will never offer people genuine love, authentic hope or real understanding and kindness, unless we come to terms with God who heals us and forgives us. We have to deal with our resentments, our fears and our losses and even our bigotry before we can offer people a bountiful moment of love and tenderness.

God desires to offer us what we need. The Word of God is housed deep within our hearts and lives. I believe God alone softens the hardened heart. If we can allow our bitterness to be open to new possibilities, the seed of God’s love will take root within us.

During our lockdowns these past months, we had an opportunity to come face to face with our own lives. If we had the courage to move beyond our fears, we could see how God is inviting us to live differently. A softened heart can become the rich soil where love and tenderness can grow and develop.

We continue to reap huge divides in our Church, our society and even in our households. We need to do things differently to get different results. If we keep doing what we have always done, the results will be the same. So now is the time to plant hope in God in the very soil of our daily lives.

In fact, the issue of racial divides is just one example of how we need God to help us. Faith is not just a pious moment in the church sanctuary, it is a tool to change the world. I realize that many folks will never look under their own feet to see the life that they have planted. They will only see the green lawn of the neighbor and always remain jealous. Today, more than ever, we need to plant hope so deeply that when it sprouts, we will be surprised and filled with joy.

As we look out into the field of the future, what do we see? I know many folks around the country only see fear, not only in the distance, but also right here under our feet. If we can cultivate faith rather than fear, love rather than hate, community rather than personal entitlement, we may face the future with hope for others.

I am not sure how we are going to look up from our fear at the parish. I am not sure about how to serve people in these times. We are working on those issues. There is a long way to go walking in this forest of COVID-19. Right now, we may not see the forest for the trees. However, eventually, new things will grow, change, and become known to us. In the meantime, we need faith, love and hope planted deeply into our hearts for God to reveal to us something new, different and flourishing.

But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.

 God give you peace,

Fr. Ron

 

Prayers of the Faithful

Let us pray for all faith leaders, may they sow seeds of God’s word far and wide.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for all who struggle in these COVID-19 months, may we be attentive to people who are isolated, alone, and afraid.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for farmers throughout the world, may God produce bounty in every land and nation to nourish all people.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for the ill of our parish communities, may God protect our loved ones and give them courage.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for those who will go to bed hungry this night, may we learn to nourish the needs of our sisters and brothers.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our loved ones who have died and for all who grieve, may God give them home in the Kingdom of Heaven. In this Mass we pray for…

We pray to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 11:25-30, Homily

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Gospel MT 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: Bulletin Art, Column, Prayers of the Faithful

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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 5, 2020

Dear Followers of the Christ,

The gospel today is a deep well of love. Matthew 11:25-30 is an invitation to rest in the full embrace of Christ Jesus. The life that Jesus promises is revealed not to the cleaver and wise, but to the innocent and the lost. The life that Jesus offers us is not earthly power or unwieldy authority. His life is rooted in an abiding love for those who are weak in the view of society. This life is completely different from a gospel of prosperity or riches. Jesus’s life within us is not about our accumulation of possessions and earthly grandeur, but in an experience of humility and trust in God.

Our life in God is often hidden before our eyes. Our human heart is usually the last place we look for such authority and wisdom. Our lives bear the mystery of Christ. Our lives offer hope that enable us to give witness to Christ in ways in which we least expect. If we want to find the real message of Christ, then we should look within our hearts. I suspect for many of us, that look will take years in order to sort through all the obstacles we find there. We need to sort through all of the mystery in our human judgements, selfish behaviors and false claims. Our hearts are a convoluted map and confusing place. Sometimes we are last ones to know what God is actually doing to love us, to change us into his own image here on earth.

Jesus invites us into his life, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened.” Jesus desires us and wants to heal us in ways we least expect. We may not trust such an invitation if we have a history of abuse or a history of ongoing personal pain or weariness. We may think that we are not good enough in God’s eyes or we may just feel unworthy to the core of our being. Sometimes the old tapes of how we view ourselves continue when we hear this invitation.

Often, we simply do not want to change. We can remain in the old patterns of behavior for decades because that is the only way we think we can survive. Unworthiness can become a security blanket. Negative thoughts can become our companion when we wake up in the morning and then we may take them to bed with us every night. Only through genuine prayer can we learn to shut off those tapes and listen, not to our unworthiness, but to the miraculous invitation of Jesus in our lives to be set free.

So how can you accept such an invitation of Jesus? How can we as a Church and society grow closer to the one who transforms our lives? These questions are the work of personal prayer, attending Eucharist, and learning how to serve people. God can create empathy in every human heart.  We then learn even more that God’s love is for us and not just for a certain few. Creating empathy for people will help us examine this text of mercy, when we realize that we are not in charge of the world or of people around us. Suffering can change everything. Compassion is the key that can unlock our stubborn hearts and help us explore who Jesus is and who we are in his sight.

“For I am meek and humble of heart.” I don’t know about you, but I take great consolation in this statement from Jesus. In these confusing days of COVID-19 and in the wake of reflecting on our profound racism in our society, I ache to find the healing balm of God. In God, we find healing for our hurts and hope in our grief. Our task is to live the message we proclaim. This is the most difficult aspect of faith, to interpret Jesus in our lives and to be converted by his grace. To live and act in the tenderness of Christ Jesus takes a lifetime. I pray that we can all take Jesus seriously and take him at his word.  His heart is a welcoming place, a healing shelter and a humble miracle where we will all find what we truly need and desire.

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron

 

Prayers of the Faithful

Let us pray for our Universal Church across every land and nation. That we may learn a new humility among people who are different from ourselves. May love be our tool for justice and for peace.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for a humble and peaceful heart. That our lives may point to Jesus, our source of hope, to bridge differences among the lost and powerful.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for the wise and the learned. That we all learn to listen to the voice of God who whispers hope in our daily lives, within our hearts, and among people hurting by life.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for unity and compassion among people in our nation. That we may celebrate our nation’s integrity and past without hatred and division today.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for the sick and suffering. That people humbled by illness and despair may be lifted up by our common heritage of justice for all people.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our sisters and brothers who have died and for all who grieve. In this Mass we pray for…

We pray to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle 2020: JN 20:24-29, Homily

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CLICK HERE to listen to today’s homily

NOTE: This will be my last daily homily. I will post a Sunday homily, but not every day.

Gospel JN 20:24-29

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But Thomas said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

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Saint Thomas: Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2017

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 9:1-8, Homily

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Gospel MT 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
“Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 8: 28-34, Homily, July Intention

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Gospel MT 8:28-34

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,
two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”
Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.
The demons pleaded with him,
“If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”
And he said to them, “Go then!”
They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
where they drowned.
The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.
Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

 

JULY PRAYER INTENTION OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL

For an end to all prejudice and racial injustice

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.).

Recent manifestations of racial inequality and injustice this past month have raised the world’s consciousness about the sin of racism and prejudice that is often hidden, but yet so prevalent in society. As Pope Francis said, “We cannot close our eyes to any form of racism or exclusion, while pretending to defend the sacredness of every human life.” Let us pray that our Lord will wipe away the darkness and open our eyes wider to the light, love, and dignity inherent in all of humanity.

 

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 8:23-27, Homily

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Gospel MT 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea,
so that the boat was being swamped by waves;
but he was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us!  We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.
The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All: By Rev. Paul Turner. Art by: Rev. Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC. Published by Liturgical Press.

Fwd Stations of the Cross - updated 2

 

I am humbled to be part of this project for the healing of sexual abuse in our Church. Paul Turner’s text is stunning. I offer images for all 14 Scriptural Stations of the Cross. I spent a couple of months during our COVID-19 shut down painting these images.

I offer some reflections and explanations of my art in the booklet. Here is my approach to this important and soulful text from Paul Turner: I pray that my fingers covered in paint may help redeem the abuse our children faced at the hands of my brothers.

From Liturgical Press: The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and for the Healing of All invites a wounded Church to contemplate the Passion and death of Jesus through the experience of clerical abuse survivors. This one-of-a-kind resource is written and illustrated by priests to foster healing amidst the destruction committed by their brothers. Award-winning author and acclaimed liturgist Paul Turner pairs each of the fourteen scripture-based Stations with powerful quotes from survivors of clerical sexual abuse, and responds to each with profound confessional prayer. Thought-provoking paintings by author, counselor, and liturgist Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC, accompany each Station.

Here is a link to Liturgical Press in Collegeville, MN to pre-order. The booklet will be published mid-December, 2020. I pray that this version of the Stations of the Cross might be at the center of our Lenten prayer for 2021.

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles 2020: MT 16: 13-19, Homily

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Gospel MT 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
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.”

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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 10:37-42, Reflection

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Gospel

MT 10:37-42

Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”