On the Margins: Mark 1: 21-28


On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday January 27, 2018



Gospel MK 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover and Column

Jan. 21, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

I am always amazed how Jesus shows up in our lives. He always wants something. In today’s gospel, Mark 1:14-20, Jesus calls disciples who are casting their nets into the sea. These men are doing what they know best, making a living for their families using their talents and gifts. Jesus invites them to consider something else.

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” I can’t imagine how these ordinary men first heard this. The story is very direct with little nuance. The men hear him and simply follow him. I wish our faith and leadership was so clear and direct. At least in my life and I suspect in yours, it is not so easy to drop everything and follow Jesus.

These gospels from Mark in the first weeks of Ordinary Time invite us to reflect on the initial “authority” of Jesus. From his baptism, Jesus begins his public ministry with great personal authority that others understood as coming from the Father. This profound personal authority in his speech and actions flows down to our generation as well.

In these past weeks, we have cultivated a new desire for God in Advent. We have seen the miracles of the Incarnation in the Christmas season and now we begin a ministry with Jesus that uses our gifts, talents and energy for the good. Jesus is casting a net into our hearts and waiting for us to follow with clarity, longing and hope.

I invite you to sit with Jesus in prayer this week with a view of allowing him to ask you something new. What is Jesus asking of you to change, develop or offer to other people? How can you receive the net Jesus casts out to the world? What will Jesus catch with you? Apathy or good will? Attention to him or neglect and self-sufficiency?

The disciples change within an instant. Would you do such a thing… as change? What would your response be to Jesus’ call to follow?

These gospels form us in our discipleship. We need to turn to the disciples that Jesus first called in order to find our way into the heart of Christ. In our parish community, I witness daily how all of you are willing to lay down your net and start something new. The ways you enter into a nursing home and provide Eucharist and your presence among the sick. The ways you are changed and challenged by your children. You serve people beyond your expertise. You welcome the stranger as your brothers and sisters.

Sometimes Jesus invites the people we least expect. Perhaps that is your heart. We are all open to the God of surprises. You might also reflect upon how you are being called into serving in ways you have least expected. There is always growth, insight and perhaps even laughter connecting to how Jesus invites us, who seem the least among his followers.

During this time, I ask that you pray for the completion of Sacred Heart Church.

Blessings to you,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Mark 1:14-20


On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Third Sunday in Ordinary, January 21, 2018


Gospel MK 1:14-20

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.



A question based on Mark 3:7-12

Version 2


Mark 3:7-12

He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, 
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.

 What if I could touch you and be swept up in the crowd and we all finally realize our need for you to touch us in our aches and anxieties, in our poverties and perversions, in our sins and subtle ways of denial and we finally admit that our barefoot race with the wrong crowd we were chasing strength and surety, self-reliance and separateness and what if I could touch you along with this crowd who are weary and do not know where else to turn and I finally find myself among people who know the direction to experience heartfelt healing and genuine love and authentic community and that I get so close as to smell your hand wave over us with the scent of pure grace and I grasp your arm as you pull away to feel your pulse and believe that I am like you wanting more and more to belong among those with deep faith and what if I could touch you and you could touch me and I could find in my search and in my running that it is all worth the sweat to follow the crowd whose instincts are to press against you with a crush of love and discover that we can see your breath over us and know that you are speaking tender blessings of healing through the misty air before you get into the boat?



Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: Cover art and column

Jan. 14, 2018 Bulletin Cover

The quote on the cover this week is from parishioner Anna Keating, inviting us to see art and beauty as we prepare for the restoration of the church. The visual art is from Ronald Raab, CSC


Dear Searchers for Christ,

In Today’s gospel, John once again points into the direction of Jesus with words that we still use within the Eucharist today, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” These ancient words help us today in our search for Jesus.

At every Mass, just before receiving the Real Presence of Christ, I point into the direction the Body and Blood of Jesus. My voice proclaims these words of John, the Forerunner. At that moment in the Mass we recognize what we will receive and what we will become.

I wonder if we are paying attention? Can we really see the Lamb of God in our midst today? This invitation helps us come to terms with what Eucharist is in the first place. We are all hungry for Christ and the mercy, compassion and tenderness He brings. For many of us, we have not yet established a relationship with Christ Jesus. The Eucharist is just a commodity. We show up and get communion and we have fulfilled our obligation. What else is there? We tend to think that will get us beyond our earthly grave.

As we enter into the mystery of this new liturgical year, I invite you to be ready to respond to John’s assertion that the Lord is near. In Advent, we tried to stretch our desire for God, to cultivate in a new way a deep longing for the Divine. We must continue such a search and not give up on that longing.

At Sacred Heart, we are preparing for a restored house of prayer. We wait to find the Real Presence on a new altar. I wonder if we can imagine our lives differently as we wait for the church building? I invite you to point with your entire lives into the mystery of Christ Jesus.

The reason why we pray for people in need is that we know we must rely on the power of Christ to remedy human longing. So we pray for our children who have yet to find the mystery of Jesus. We pray for people locked up in doubt or those behind bars because they have yet to find the freedom of Christ. We pray for our immigrants, our lost, our neighbors who have lost their homes in fires, because we are all looking for the safety of home and the stability of good relationships.

Here are some questions for you to consider this week as you ponder the finger pointing of John and look into a new direction for Christ:

How is the Holy Spirit inviting you to search for Jesus?

How can you enter into the suffering of others and point to Christ?

How do you experience the Eucharist as a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ?

How might you pray with the words of Jesus this week, “Come, and you will see…?”


Fr. Ron

On the Margins: John 1: 35-42


On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 14, 2018


Gospel  JN 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.


“What if you grasped my hand?” A reflection based on Mark 1:29-39

Version 2

Gospel MK 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

“What if you grasped my hand?”

What if you grasped my hand as I open my bent fingers toward you from my restlessness in the nighttime so to shake me out of my resistance to rest in you and what if I finally found you in my sleepwalking here on earth or what if you took me by the hand to guide me into a deep peace where worry melts away and we are in union or what if you bend down to listen to me cry out for the sound of your voice and the warmth of your cheek or what if you lead me unto a path of my delight where all my doubt and sin could be trampled down and harvested and burned and forgotten about or what if you took my hand and I could finally realize that you have led me through unknown forests of denial and uncertainty my entire life and I was simply not aware and I am finally waking up to how you have loved me or what if you take me by the hand and my heart finds what I most desire and the healing that will bring me real freedom and joy and what if you bend down from the heavens and lift me up and I learn from you finally how to bend down to the needs of others and help lift up people I would rather not find at my fingertips and we finally learned to walk together on the earth where there are no separations of rich and poor or gay and straight or hopeless and joyful or powerful and marginalized or what if I finally stopped clenching my fists and raised my hand to you to receive you half way and I fell into your embrace and I finally quit squirming and I fell asleep in your arms?



Epiphany 2017: “What if I follow?”


“What if I follow?” Epiphany 2017 Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

“What if I follow?”

What if I follow the light and you are not home or if I follow and I bring all the gifts that I hope you will enjoy and you do not accept me or what if I follow what I think is the light and it is still my own power and self-sufficiency and pride and arrogance and I find myself basking in my own light that I cannot see the light that is in your face or what if I follow and all the pain in me is not changed and I come to the conclusion that the journey was not worth it or do I really have to be in the dark to follow the light to where you are or what happens with my past will I just wring my hands and stew in my own sin and will that all be left in the dust if I get to you and offer you what I think is important and the journey of my past has been a total illusion or how will I live anew if the grief I carry along my side in the nighttime is still stuck to the roof of my mouth and I will not have the courage to speak what I truly need and hope for and by the way I am not certain that I should bring hope with me because I am so stubborn to change anyway because I really like living in the dark that I carry in my heart after all as it gives me identity and I am not sure that I want to lose my identity on my journey through the darkness and to find you sitting on your mother’s lap under the beam of the star where I long to be relaxing in your mercy and forgiveness and comfort as I hold you in my arms at the same time you hold me in your heart as you long for me with all the love that is yours and now mine and for the whole world?

Epiphany 2017: Cover art (St. Andre) and article

Jan. 7, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

This weekend, the Universal Church celebrates the memorial of Saint André Bessette. Brother André is the first saint in the Congregation of Holy Cross. He ministered in Montreal and the people of Canada are proud of his life, his mission to heal and his canonization that took place in Rome in 2010.

The cover painting for this bulletin was first published in AIM Magazine in December 2017. I painted the image of Brother André to coincide with an article I wrote for that issue of the magazine.

I find Brother André incredibly fascinating. He was a sickly child who was not expected to live. Instead, he died at 91. He grew up illiterate. In the work of the Holy Spirit, he was accepted into the Congregation of Holy Cross that is best known for education. Our religious community really did not know where to assign him so they appointed him porter at their college in Montreal. He stayed in the doorway for over 40 years. André had a great devotion to Saint Joseph, especially after his own father died when he was very young. God used that devotion to heal people as they came to the door.

In the high point of André’s ministry, he would see up to 600 people a day. He would invite them to go to confession or to Mass. He would suggest that people pray to Saint Joseph or any form of prayer. He would use oil from a lamp in the chapel to anoint some people in their pain and frustration. He offered people hope when their was little medical care accessible to them.

André would sleep only one or two hours at night. He spent the night praying for all the people who had come to him during the day. He was a simple man with an amazing life of prayer. He thought of himself as God’s little one, as God’s little puppy not only because he was short in stature, but also because he was only leading people to God through Saint Joseph. André never considered himself as a healer.

The Shrine of Saint Joseph in Montreal is a large worship center in honor of Saint Joseph, the largest in the world to honor the foster father of Jesus, and was founded by André. The money came to him through the families that had a miraculous healing. The shrine continues today and millions of people still search for healing and hope.

When we finish Sacred Heart Church, a relic of Saint André Bessette will be housed in the altar. I am so grateful that André’s presence will be in the center of our community in a real way. I look forward to praying more from the faith of Saint André for our community and parish that is also in need of healing and hope, mercy and love in so many ways. Please offer your life, your suffering, and your incompleteness to Saint André. He will lead you to God, to the love and miraculous power of Christ Jesus.

Saint Andre Bessette, pray for us!

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Matthew 2:1-12


On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR


The Epiphany of the Lord, January 7, 2018

Gospel MT 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.