The Shepherd We Call Good 2017

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The Shepherd We Call Good, Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

I painted this image of the Good Shepherd last week. We will use it as a bulletin cover sometime this summer. This image speaks to me of our call to solidarity and compassion with all who are lost and marginalized. I invite you to pray with this image, especially as you reflect on today’s Second Reading from 1Peter.

Reading 2  1 Pt 2:20b-25

Beloved:
If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
this is a grace before God.
For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

When he was insulted, he returned no insult;
when he suffered, he did not threaten;
instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross,
so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed.
For you had gone astray like sheep,
but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter: John 10:1-10

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“Tender Shepherd” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

CLICK HERE for this weekend’s bulletin

Dear Followers of the Shepherd,

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is generally known as, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The image of Jesus as the tender and loving guide continues to reveal to us an image of the Resurrected Christ. The Shepherd is not timid or shy, but strong in his desire for us to follow him to the Kingdom.

This is one of my favorite images of Jesus. Today’s gospel, John 10:1-10, offers us a text for reflection in these Easter days. I love this image because I must entrust not only my own life to Jesus’ perseverance in desiring me, but also his longing for people who are most estranged, lonely and set apart from others. Jesus is the gate. Jesus is the entry into freedom, love and acceptance.

This image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is often ignored because some assume this means that people are just dumb sheep. This is not the purpose of this image of Jesus’ Resurrection. The image is meant to be one of guidance, love and connection. Jesus knows us. He loves us. Jesus wants the best for us. Jesus chases us, protects us and brings us together. In my own prayer all year long, I rely on this image that Jesus wants to satisfy my heart and the lives of every person.

We experience many voices in our daily lives attempting to get our attention. During most of our days, we hold in our hands phones and devices that offer us opportunities to connect with people or live in our own selfishness. The internet is a positive voice of learning, but it can also become a negative voice connecting us to fear around the world. Learning to follow the Voice of the Shepherd is never easy. In fact, listening to Jesus’ love, presence and voice is extremely countercultural. As followers of Jesus, we are drawn to his mercy and forgiveness.

Learning to receive the genuine love of the Shepherd takes courage. Our faith is not just a simple pious effort, but a strong realization that it takes a lifetime for us to hear his voice and embrace a lifestyle of freedom, love, forgiveness and mercy. We become in our lives the characteristics of the one we follow.

Here are some questions to consider this week: How do you listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice and desire for you? How do you pray?

What do you need to let go of in your life to better attune to Jesus’ presence and care for you? What competing voices need to be silenced?

What does it mean for you in the Easter season to follow the Good Shepherd? How does Easter change your lifestyle?

Peace to you in these Easter Days. Let’s continue to raise our voices in praise of the Good Shepherd, the Living Christ that invites us into a life of peace and liberation.

Blessings to you all,

Fr. Ron

The Third Sunday of Easter: Luke 24:13-35, Road to Emmaus

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The Road to Emmaus: Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

I painted this image of “The Road to Emmaus” this week for the cover of our parish bulletin. As I enter into the mystery of the Risen Christ, I find myself along the road, marveling at his love for me and our world. 

CLICK here for our parish bulletin

Dear Believers in the Risen Christ,

The disciples witnessed Jesus’ presence on the road to Emmaus. They were disappointed after his death since they thought him to be the Messiah. In today’s gospel, Luke 24:13-35, we eavesdrop on a conversation the disciples have with a stranger who turns out to be the Risen Christ.

In these gospels of post-Resurrection, we see the disciples struggling to believe in the Resurrection. We also struggle to believe. We are still reluctant to believe that so many things could be different in the Resurrection. We still grumble about our lives, our situations and our purpose as Christians.

The disciples felt this discouragement when a stranger came along side them. This stranger was Jesus. They began to feel their hearts burning when they realized that he was with them in their weariness and unbelief. He broke bread with them and fed them, both physically and spiritually. He listened to them and sent them on to continue his work. Joy abounded in their hearts. Hope was restored in their recognition of Jesus.

We are called to invite Jesus to be our companion along our own journeys. The potential of new life that comes from our hearts of faith is insurmountable. So often we get stuck in our preoccupations with life, in what we don’t seem to possess, and in the old stories we tell our selves that we are not good enough for God. Instead, the Easter season challenges us to be open to Jesus who accompanies us even in times that seem dark and wearisome. He transforms our lives into sheer joy.

Our journey in life is always a tension between unbelief and belief. We gather together to celebrate the Eucharist so that we can change our inner voices of apathy, discouragement and unworthiness. We need to replace our fear with the voice of Jesus that gives us hope, joy and freedom. This often takes a lifetime. Easter is not a one time experience of Jesus’ presence. For us to transform our inner voices of denial, hopelessness and anger, Jesus must be invited into our daily lives and conversations.

Perhaps you have felt the inner peace that comes from recognizing the Resurrection of Christ Jesus. Perhaps your heart has felt the burning of love, desire and hope in his presence. I hope that you have felt within your heart the message of acceptance and peace that Jesus has for you.

We need this message in our community and in our world. We are restless when things do not go as we plan. Our world can be a very violent and dark place for our children and families. Even in world despair, we are challenged to rest in the person of Jesus. We are called to recognize him in the burning of our desire for his presence. Like the disciples before us, we come to recognize him in the Breaking of the Bread.

Blessings to you all,

Fr. Ron

The Second Sunday of Easter 2017

April 23

Bulletin Cover for The Second Sunday of Easter 2017 Photo: Rusty Kern

Complete Bulletin: CLICK HERE

 

Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,

We all experience fear. Sometimes we even hide from our futures when we are afraid. This is the scene from today’s gospel, John 20:19-31. The disciples remain behind locked doors because they are afraid that they will be killed in the same manner as their friend Jesus. The doors are locked and so are their hearts. The panic-driven disciples are hiding from the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus appears to the disciples when they need him the most, in the tightness of fear. His first words behind these locked doors are, “Peace be with you.” Peace is surefooted hope. Peace is offered and remains with them. Even for our lives today, peace is transformative of fear when we all see the face of Jesus.

Thomas was not in the circle of fear. The following week, Thomas is with them and the fear-stricken disciples were once again wringing their hands. Thomas approaches Jesus and touches Jesus’ wounds. Thomas lets go of his own fear and professes to his new family, “My Lord and my God.”

The Easter season gives us hope no matter our own fear. The Easter season shows us that to really believe in Jesus’ resurrection, we also must touch the wounded and redeemed Body of Christ. Where is the Body of Christ today? The Body of Christ is here in our world in those who suffer and those who are afraid. The Body of Christ is in Syria. They Body of Christ is in Chicago in urban violence. The Body of Christ sits at our kitchen tables in the fears and stories of our children. The Body of Christ is people today in need of love, tenderness and peace. We must be willing to reach out beyond our fear and experience the redeeming love and mercy of Jesus in our day.

Today is also known as “Divine Mercy” Sunday. The mercy that Jesus gave Thomas and the disciples happens in our lives as well. Jesus wants the best for us, especially in this Easter season. Today love is incarnate in fear, in doubt and in our worries about tomorrow.

Each year on the Saturday after Easter, The Congregation of Holy Cross ordains our men priests at the University of Notre Dame. This year, two men are now new priests. However, this gospel on Thomas appears every year on The Second Sunday of Easter. So, each new priest preaches on Thomas’ touching of the Body of Christ. This year is Fr. Bob’s 30th anniversary and my 34th anniversary in the priesthood. Let’s pray for all who face doubt and like the disciples, hope that Jesus will reveal compassion and mercy to us all.

The disciples were lost in fear and then found themselves in Jesus’ mercy again. Their mission and purpose were restored with Thomas’ faith. So is ours.

Blessings in this Easter Season,

Fr. Ron

The Second Sunday of Easter 2017, Painting of Jesus and Thomas

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“My Lord and God” Jesus and Thomas, Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

I painted this image this morning with only a rag. This passage is one of my favorite gospels. I preached on this text at my First Mass, 34 years ago. I ache to probe the mystery of the wounded Christ. My entire priesthood has been exploring the wounded Body of Christ by listening to and being with people who long for God, those who survive on the margins of society. Tomorrow’s gospel remains our call to stretch out our hands to touch the redeemed suffering of the Body of Christ. Thomas’ proclamation opens my heart, “My Lord and my God”. Tomorrow, I will post the bulletin cover and my column. 

Gospel  JN 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

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 he 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.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Friday in the Octave of Easter 2017

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“Resurrection” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 

Gospel JN 21:1-14

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

 

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

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“From the Cross, new Life” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

GospelLK 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”