On the Margins: Matthew 15:21-28

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Gospel MT 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

The Assumption of Mary

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“The Assumption of Mary” Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC

Gospel LK 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

 

Version 2

Saint Maximilian Kolbe; Priest and Martyr

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Kolbe, Martyr, Finger Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2015

(This painting and reflection is 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 that 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 alright.” 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. 

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover and Column

August 13 Bulletin Cover

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Dear Believers,

I grew up on a small lake in Michigan. Often during the summer while enjoying boating, swimming and skiing, a storm would blow across the lake. We learned to spot the warning signs such as white caps on the growing waves, the tree leaves at the shoreline would flip over, and the lake itself would turn blue-black. We always knew the ten minute timing to get safely to shore, put our gear away and snap on the boat cover.

Today’s gospel, Matthew 14:22-33, shows us a summer storm. The disciples do not make it to safety, so Jesus walks on the water towards them. In the panic of the disciples, Jesus offers them words of hope once again, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

No matter where we live, we all face various storms we cannot control and many storms we cannot see coming. The warning signs sometimes are not quick enough. One such storm is happening right now. Our country is in the midst of a drug abuse storm where we do not know when it will end. We face an increasing storm of addition to opioids and heroin. The storm is becoming overwhelming for families, including unprecedented numbers of deaths. As part of the storm, grandparents and other relatives are raising thousands of children whose parents are incapacitated from addiction. We are also in a storm of people aging without healthcare, a “gray tsunami.” Other storms that prevail include depression and various forms of mental illness, storms from divorce and infidelity, and the continuing grand threats of war and violence.

As we listen to this gospel story today, we take note of the word, “courage.” Jesus speaks to the disciples, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Courage is not just a grand or heroic notion. “Courage” comes from the Latin word, “cor” which means, “heart”. In French, Sacred Heart is “Sacra Coeur.” In the center of our fear then, we are to invite Jesus into our hearts because his heart will calm us. The Heart of Christ, the Sacred Heart will show us how to navigate our storms. His Heart will reveal to us how to pray and how to live and how to serve. No matter the storms we face in our lifetime, we turn in faith to the one who walks on water to save us. The Sacred Heart of Jesus instills courage within us to move to safety, to travel back to shore with delight and hope. The Sacred Heart also shows us how to walk with people in the storms that may never be stopped or healed. Courage means that we give our hearts to people. Courage invites us to share our hearts with the lost, the forgotten, the orphan and the widow. Courage is heart to heart hope in Jesus.

What are the storms in your life that you can hardly navigate? Take courage. Take heart.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Matthew 14:22-33

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 13, 2017

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Gospel MT 14:22-33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

“Moses’ Desperate Search”: Finger Painting

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“Moses’ Desperate Search” Finger Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Reading: NM 11:4B-15

The children of Israel lamented,
“Would that we had meat for food!
We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt,
and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks,
the onions, and the garlic.
But now we are famished;
we see nothing before us but this manna.”

Manna was like coriander seed and had the color of resin.
When they had gone about and gathered it up,
the people would grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar,
then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves,
which tasted like cakes made with oil.
At night, when the dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell.

When Moses heard the people, family after family,
crying at the entrance of their tents,
so that the LORD became very angry, he was grieved.
“Why do you treat your servant so badly?” Moses asked the LORD.
“Why are you so displeased with me
that you burden me with all this people?
Was it I who conceived all this people?
Or was it I who gave them birth,
that you tell me to carry them at my bosom,
like a foster father carrying an infant,
to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers?
Where can I get meat to give to all this people?
For they are crying to me,
‘Give us meat for our food.’
I cannot carry all this people by myself,
for they are too heavy for me.
If this is the way you will deal with me,
then please do me the favor of killing me at once,
so that I need no longer face this distress.”

 

The Transfiguration of the Lord: Column and Cover

August 6, 2017 Cover

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Dear Followers of the Christ,

We all discover along our spiritual paths various moments that seem to reveal the meaning of our lives. We know that a newborn baby can make us see the world differently. We understand that getting our dream job shines a light on our future with extraordinary brightness. We feel the comfort of forgiveness in our bones or the miracle of healing in our souls. There are moments in our lives and relationships that offer us a glimpse of how life could be and perhaps should be for us all.

We listen to today’s gospel, Matthew 17:1-9, hearing this message of the Transfiguration of Jesus. He takes Peter, James and John up a mountain. Jesus becomes dazzling white, his face shining like the sun and his clothing whiter than any bleacher could get them. This transfiguration re-imagines Jesus in the minds of his disciples. The disciples even see their ancestors in faith, Moses and Elijah. They experience for themselves the presence of the Father telling them to listen to Jesus, his only Son.

In all of the excitement, the disciples begin to be afraid. Jesus tells them, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” These words are a sign of what happened on Easter when an angel told the disciples that Jesus was risen from the dead and to not be afraid.

The entire scene in this gospel leads us to Calvary and to Jesus’ Resurrection. We will see the central images in this text again on Easter. The bright light of Jesus’ transfiguration is nothing compared to the light of Jesus’ Resurrection. This is the light we share from our own baptism. It is also the light we bless during the Easter Vigil and carry into the church to illumine the darkness.

There are many things that we long to be transfigured within our own lives. We wish our son did not have a learning disability and we wait for the day that his disability will be transfigured and his life will illumine hope to others. We wait for our children to discover God in their lives, but we know that will take a long transfiguration. We search for hope when we think we can control our lives. We ache for relief about our daughters being caught in human trafficking or our sons with drug addiction. Life itself is waiting for this moment of transfiguration and love.

Here are some questions to ponder and pray about this week: How am I waiting to hear God’s voice of consolation and peace? What in my life is ready for transfiguration and new life? How can I learn to pray from this gospel passage? What do the words, “Rise, and do not be afraid” mean to me? How can I take these words from Jesus to heart?

Blessings,

Fr. Ron