Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 16: 13-20, Homily

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Gospel

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
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.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

     

    Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: Cover Art, Column, Prayers of the Faithful

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    Sunday August 23, 2020

    Dear Believers in the Christ,

    Since COVID-19, many people, especially those who are alone, are coming to grips with past regrets and their past choices and decisions that have not turned out well. I am amazed at what arises in our hearts about our bitterness of the past and the sadness about how our lives have turned out. This seems to be common experience, of realizing life has not turned out the way we had planned. Suddenly we are aware we need God, even when some people no longer trust any institution.

    Who is Jesus for you? What is your relationship with him and how would you define him? Our faith invites us into a relationship and not just doctrine. We need to know Jesus not just know about Jesus. This is an important distinction. This understanding of Jesus can change us, our families and the Church.

    The gospel today, Matthew 16:13-20, reveals this question from the mouth of Jesus. He asks one of the most important questions of his life on earth, “Who do you say that I am?” In this text, Peter understands who Jesus is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This is the beginning of a new relationship between Jesus and Peter. Peter then receives the keys to the Kingdom of God. Peter is called upon to lead, to put his life on the line as Jesus did.

    We cannot be Catholics in name only. We can certainly memorize texts; learn about issues in the Catechism, but the grace of knowing Jesus, to really know him, changes our lives. The scriptures proclaimed in the Mass reveal grace that invites us into relationship with Christ Jesus. Grace floods our lives when the words are opened up in the Mass. Jesus is present in the Word, really present to the aches and pains of our lives.

    We belong to Christ Jesus in the authority of our baptism. Our hearts yearn for his presence. We are called to simply be open to receive his love and mercy. We often put up obstacles to receive him. We may think we are not good enough, or moral enough. Our pride gets in our way when we hold up all the obstacles of our hearts to hide his presence. We even blame Jesus sometimes for the outcomes of our lives rather than allowing him to simple enter the mystery of our suffering.

    Jesus offered Peter the authority to create something new on earth. Jesus is still offering us the opportunity to create the Church, to become the Church, to live the Church on the earth. From our openness to others, from our willingness to serve the lost and forgotten, from our ability to forgive others and ourselves, from moments of love and acceptance, we come to realize our relationship with Jesus.

    I invite you this week to enter into the question Jesus is asking of us today, “Who do you say that I am?” Sit in quiet prayer. Believe he places the answer within you. Hope that your answer may find its way to the surface of your life in how you live, love and serve. We cannot hold Jesus at a distance or think he must be for the holy, the ultra pious and well deserving. Seize his love for you.

    Jesus invites us to create something new, just as he invited Peter. Who knows how love within our lives will change the world? Give in and allow Jesus to be in relationship with you.

    God give you peace,

    Fr. Ron

     

    Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

    August 23, 2020

    Let us pray for Pope Francis, that he may lead with genuineness of faith, and hope for the poor and afflicted. May he restore peace within our Church.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for people who have given up on the Church during these months of pandemic, that they may be guided by the Holy Spirit and be given hope in their weariness.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for our friends who have moved out of state or across town, those who have changed jobs or careers, and for all who are adjusting to major life changes.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for all Christians, that unity and harmony may be the gift of all who follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ as modeled by the saints of our past.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for people who face depression and loneliness during these months of pandemic, that they may realize the comfort of Christ Jesus and the concern from our communities.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for our beloved dead and for those who grieve the loss of family members and friends. In this Mass…

    We pray to the Lord.

     

    Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 15:21-28, Homily

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    Gospel

    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 Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2020

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    The Assumption of Mary: Watercolor painting by Ronald Raab, CSC 2019

    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.

     

    Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: Bulletin Column and Cover Art, Prayers of the Faithful

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    Bulletin Column: Sunday August 16, 2020

    Dear Followers of Jesus,

    I adore the Canaanite woman. She is in the top ten of my favorite people. I want to make sure I find her to share coffee when I get to heaven. She must be the patron saint of people who don’t get their prayers answered, since she seemed to discover Jesus’ healing for her daughter.

    Matthew 15:21-28 invites us into the dialogue with Jesus and a woman who is considered to be an outsider. She comes to Jesus with a burdened heart. She knows intuitively that Jesus can heal her daughter who is tormented by a demon. She loves her daughter and wants the best for her.

    Jesus really gives her the cold shoulder. In fact, the disciples try to talk with Jesus about sending her on the road, to get her out of their hair. The woman persists. Jesus says that his presence is for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    The woman turns the conversation around and stops Jesus in his tracks. She insists that even the dogs can eat the scraps that fall from the table. I love this. Jesus finds such great faith in the stranger and foreigner. Jesus proclaims, “O woman, great is your faith!”

    Most of us live our lives flying by the seat of our pants. We do not know where to turn when something major happens. Most people are not connected with the scriptures or the stories of Jesus and we feel left out when our lives take a turn for the worse. We blame God for not healing us, or at least stopping the bleeding. These months of COVID-19 give us the example of being lost, not knowing clearly what to do or where to turn.

    If your life feels out of control, then listen to this woman. Sit with this story and find your place in it. These gospels are not just cozy little stories that we tell at Mass because we do not know what else to say. These stories are brim full of grace, saturated with hope and overflowing with God’s real presence. In these days of racial divisions, even more violence and hatred, our lives are covered with despair. We need a model for us so we can turn to Jesus who loves us clearly. We need the gumption of the Canaanite women.

    The woman was an advocate for her daughter whom she loved. I have to believe that she is also an advocate for people she never met. It is easy for us to pray for people we love, too. We face more difficult times when we come to Jesus on behalf of people we do not know or who have never seen. I invite you to come to Jesus especially for people you have never met, especially people who are completely different from ourselves. We must do so. We need to pray for people ingrained in the deep racism that shreds people’s dignity. We need to offer our lives in prayer for people who sell drugs to our children without our knowledge. We need to be at peace when the threats of war and violence capture us.

    I hope you learn something from this woman. Pray for couples that are struggling to be faithful with each other. Pray for runaway teens and children you have never known who face sex trafficking. Pray for our immigrants longing to find a safe place. Pray for your neighbor who is depressed. Pray for those who live in fear and feel afraid to walk on this earth. Allow the Canaanite woman to call you out of your shyness about coming to Jesus. Jesus is the one who heals us.

    God give you peace,

    Fr. Ron

     

    PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL

    Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

    August 16, 2020

    Let us pray for the troubled and the lost, that we may ask the Heart of Christ for the guidance and compassion we need in uncertain times.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for those who face unknown disease and illness, for the mentally ill, and emotionally unstable, for our loved ones in hospitals and rehab units, that Christ may reach out to touch every fragile life.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for our children who continue their learning and schooling, either at home or in classrooms, that God may direct our next generation to respect every human life.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for peace on our streets, hope in every heart, and harmony in every household, that God may lift up our poor and suffering.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for people who have lost their jobs, for those who struggle with childcare and finding the resources to raise children among this pandemic.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for kindness among those with whom we disagree, that love may prevail in our communities, our family lives, and in our parishes.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for our loved ones who have died. In this Mass…

    We pray to the Lord.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr 2020

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    Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr, Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 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 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 2020: MT 14:22-33, Homily

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    CLICK HERE TO listen to today’s homily

    Gospel

    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.”

    Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: Cover Art, Column, and Prayers of the Faithful

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    Bulletin Column

    August 9, 2020

    Dear Believers in the Christ,

    I grew up on a small lake in Michigan. Often during the summer while enjoying boating, swimming and water skiing, an afternoon storm would blow across the lake. We learned to spot the warning signs.  White caps whipped across growing waves. The oak leaves on shore would flip bottom side up in the wind. The water turned a deep blue-black. We learned that we had about ten minutes to dock the boat and to get to safety on the shore.

    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. In the panic of the disciples, Jesus offers them words of hope once again, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

    We hear this invitation of Jesus differently this summer. The storms of pandemic, financial misfortune, academic uncertainty, civil unrest from generations of racism, have toppled our control and overthrown our lives like nothing else in this generation. Our young people will hold this summer in their memories for the rest of their lives. They will continue to live out their fears for many years to come.

    “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid,” is the promise of Jesus no matter the storm and the its consequences. This is our faith as Christians. We possess a moral obligation to reach out to our young people, our family members and strangers alike to help each other in the storm. I worry about our next generation, our youth, our children who have a growing sense that this storm is too overwhelming.

    Many of our teens and young adults are living in fear. We have to be on the lookout for those who want to give up. We must be attentive to those who slip into despair. Please do not hesitate to get professional help for anyone who is struggling to cope in the storms of this summer. Please be attentive to our teens, most especially.

    Our history of faith reveals to us that we have an opportunity to enter the storm and be changed by it for the good. However, this takes time and perspective and real honesty. We have an opportunity as families to explore how this summer storm can change our lives and perspectives about the value of life, the beauty of being alive, and the courage it takes to be human and in relationship with others. Getting to this new shore, this new perspective, takes much work on our part, both at home and within the Church.

    Perhaps this is the summer even though we are not together when we really learn to lean on the mystery of community and the Church. Perhaps this is the time when we can accompany those who may want to give up and share with them the value of what faith is all about. Hope buoys fear. Hope is a lifeline that we all need in these days of uncertainty. Love is not a wasted value in stormy times. Faith helps us get to the other side, the shoreline where rest restores us. These are not pious words, but the mystery that endures in Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.

    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. The Sacred Heart will lead us to the other side of the virus, if we have the courage and faith to offer him our fear.

    No matter the storms we face in our lifetime, we turn in faith 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. 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 and the one who fears the virus. Courage is heart to heart hope in Jesus.

    Take courage. Take heart. Storms pass. Love prevails.

    God give you peace,

    Fr. Ron

     

    Prayers of the Faithful

    August 9, 2020  Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Let us pray for Church authorities and leaders across the world, that they may help transform apathy into compassion, hopelessness into contentment, and hatred into peace.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for all who face the storms of fear in these days of pandemic, that families may lift up loved ones with faith and courage.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for those who are lost among the waves of despair and discouragement, that they may rest their hearts in the consolation of Christ Jesus.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for people who are greatly affected by these times of uncertainty, unemployment, and disillusionment about racial divides, that God may lift them to the safe shore of comfort and love.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for our families and friends who are ill, that comfort and reassurance from the Heart of Jesus may guide their unsteady futures.

    We pray to the Lord.

    Let us pray for our loved ones who have died, that they may now rest upon the eternal shore of heaven. In this Mass…

    We pray to the Lord.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: MT 14:13-21, Homily

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    CLICK HERE to listen to my homily written below

    Gospel MT 14:13-21

    When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
    he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
    The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
    When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
    his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
    When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
    “This is a deserted place and it is already late;
    dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
    and buy food for themselves.”
    Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
    give them some food yourselves.”
    But they said to him,
    “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
    Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
    and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
    Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
    he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
    and gave them to the disciples,
    who in turn gave them to the crowds.
    They all ate and were satisfied,
    and they picked up the fragments left over—
    twelve wicker baskets full.
    Those who ate were about five thousand men,
    not counting women and children.

     

    Homily for August 2, 2020

    My dear followers of Jesus,

    Is there enough for me? Will others also be fed? These questions haunt the disciples amid the starving crowd.

    These questions become our questions in our hunger, in our appetite for spiritual food. Does Jesus really care about my loneliness during these COVID-19 months? Does Jesus care that my son has lost his job or that I have not touched my new granddaughter or that my nephew thinks about suicide because of his isolation?  Does Jesus care about my need to be safe with all my health problems or that I have not been physically touched in months?

    Well, Jesus remedies the hunger of his people by collecting five fish and two loaves of bread. He suckles the many thousands. He shows the disciples how to bless bread, break it, and share it, in order for him to satiate people’s hunger. There were even unexpected leftovers, more than enough to benefit each person’s hunger.

    This is a foreshadowing of our actions at the Eucharist here today. There is enough even for your hunger and mine.  There is plentiful redemption for your unbelief and loneliness. There is food for change in our frustrations along racial divides and violence on our streets.

    The Roman’s text asks, “What will separate us from the love of Christ?”  Today, not even our global pandemic or our uncertainties about life, will separate us from our beloved. Jesus finds our sorrows, our disappointments, and he feeds us with miracles. He pushes away our fear to find us. He quenches our souls with miraculous love.

    Jesus feeds us here. Mercy is more than a morsel. There is enough for each of us to be satisfied.  He also invites us to break open our lives, as he does the bread. We can feed others with love because love is what we receive here. We really can love beyond our fear. There is always enough for every person’s hunger under heaven.

    The hand of the Lord feeds us, he answers all our needs.

    God give you peace.