Second Sunday of Easter, April 24, 2022, Cover Art, Reflection on John 20:19-31

Dear Followers of the Christ,

In John 20:19-31, we follow the disciples into a closed room. The locked doors and the closed windows reveal the fear of those who were left behind after Jesus’ death. I can’t blame them for being hunched over in pain. They witnessed the tragedy of Jesus’ cross. They thought he was the one to follow. They put all their hope in this man who suffered severely and died in front of them. They had no idea what to do next or where to go for healing.

In this dingy room, we can smell the sweat of fear on the disciples. We can hear their silence. We feel the tinge of regret and the overwhelming fear of death. In their locked cage, the future seemed dim and uncertain. Can you imagine this moment? The disciples were afraid because they believed that they would also die. They believed that because they followed Jesus, the authorities would also come after them. I am not sure we can comprehend the severity of such fear and overwhelming darkness. 

However, even in their great fear, Jesus stood in their midst. Jesus appeared to them in great love. On his body, he bore the scars of his death. On his hands and feet, the deep wounds of the nail marks revealed his identity. These wounds were his sign of authority. He indeed had risen from the dead. The nail marks told the story of what had happened in the prior days. The nail marks assured the disciples that it was truly him, not an impostor. 

Then, they heard him speak. The first words of Jesus Christ after rising from the dead were these, “Peace be with you.” Wow. These few words are not only to ease the fear of those huddled together, but these words also span across the generations and into our lives as well. In the face of tragedy and even death, Jesus offers the peace of his presence. These words should be tattooed on the hearts of every believer. These words should be the foundation of our lives together. These words herald a new era in history and a new way of living even in our day. He rose from the dead. He brings peace eternally. 

We need these words more than ever in our world. We are not only called to hear them, but we are also called and challenged to live them. Peace is not an abstraction; it is a way of life. Peace is not about a left-wing conspiracy or a right-wing ideal. Peace flows from the mouth of Jesus Christ as his first offering to his disciples after the grave. Imagine that. If this is the case, then it must become the central teaching of our faith, our relationship with Christ, and of the Church. 

Thomas was not with the disciples at the first encounter with the Christ. Jesus appeared to Thomas later. He was stunned by Christ’s presence. He could not believe such a reality. He wanted to touch his wounds and put his hand into his side. He wanted to find out for himself that Jesus had risen. I do not blame Thomas for his inquisitive nature. Thomas believed in Jesus and wanted to find again the intimacy of his touch. “My Lord and my God,” exclaimed Thomas as he touched the beauty of the nail marks. I want to touch Jesus’ body and find out for myself that he is risen, that he is the source of life for all eternity. Thomas models deep faith for me, not the doubt of his reputation. 

This gospel text is a source of much love within my heart. It is this text upon which I preached the day after I was ordained a priest 39 years ago. The Congregation of Holy Cross ordains our men on the Saturday after Easter each year. So, we preach on the Second Sunday of Easter for the first time as priests. In all three liturgical years, this text is proclaimed. This means that all our priests preach on this gospel the first day of priesthood. 

The disciples were privileged to discover the Risen Christ. They reached out from their fear in the dark room to encounter the love, the light, and the integrity of Jesus, Risen in Glory. His redeemed wounds give us courage and vitality to serve and love in our world. 

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor

Easter Sunday April 17, 2022: Bulletin Column, Art

Dear Followers of Jesus Christ,

Alleluia! On this great Easter Day, we celebrate the gift of new life in Christ Jesus. His suffering and death have been transformed into Eternal Life. He is our victory over the grave. We belong to him in this new life through the gift of our baptism. We find our home in the waters of life, in the markings on our bodies, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The authority of our faith, our tradition, our Church, comes alive in each of us on this Easter Day.

Easter resides in our resilience in life. Each of us has faced deep wounds this year and has faced many obstacles. Our faith is not flimsy or whimsical. It is deeply rooted in our pain, our suffering, our unsteady decisions, our weary grief. We can stand up on Easter Day and know the love of God because we have faced our own tragedies and doubts. 

On this Easter Day, we proclaim my favorite text, John 20:1-9. We hear Mary of Magdala go to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning. She desired to absorb the reality of his death. He had released her of seven demons. She followed the Master, and she realized his healing power. She knew who he was firsthand. When she arrived at the tomb, she feared something was wrong. The incredibly large stone covering the tomb was rolled away. 

Her instincts carried her back by foot to tell Peter about her findings. Peter and John ran in worry. Even though John arrived at the tomb first, Peter was the first to enter the tomb. Image what they felt. Imagine the sweat on their bodies from running and from fear. They peered down and saw the cloth that had covered his head rolled up in the corner. Something new was taking place, but they could not comprehend such a miracle, such beauty, and such love. 

There are many reasons to love this text of new life. I love it because a woman was the first to find the empty tomb. She experienced the Resurrection of Jesus Christ even though she did not understand that he had to rise from the dead. She also was the first to express such a reality. She heralded new life to Peter and John. Her enthusiastic voice proclaimed new life in excitement and fear. Her testimony is handed down to us today. 

In our Sacred Heart Parish community, we celebrate our 100th Anniversary. We celebrate the building of Sacred Heart as well as the combination of our three communities into one parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Manitou Springs and Holy Rosary Chapel in Cascade. For all these years, we have proclaimed many Easter Days and heralded Jesus Christ in our sacramental lives. We have baptized thousands of infants and buried the dead of our ancestors in our parish community. We stand as well in the tradition of the Church to proclaim eternal life and the beauty and richness of Jesus Christ over sin, death, and evil. 

I am so grateful for your presence today. I am richly changed by your desire to believe in Jesus Christ. In many ways, we are pilgrims of faith longing to peer into the dark grave of Jesus to find for ourselves that life is worth it, that faith means something in our generation, that love is possible no matter what. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in our parish community that has heralded such a message for 100 years. I also believe that our communities will continue for many years to come. 

I hope you will join us this summer for our anniversary events. The actual date of the anniversary of Sacred Heart Church is July 16, 2022. Bishop William Wack, CSC from Pensacola, Florida will preside on that Saturday at 5:30 pm. Bishop Bill was the associate pastor here when he was first ordained a priest in 1994. On July 17, Bishop James Golka will preside at two Masses on Sunday and dedicate our new Saint André House. 

Please know my gratitude to all of you on this Easter Day. I am delighted to celebrate the Eucharist today in memory of all parishioners, past, present, and future. Thank you for your faith, your generosity, your kindness, and your lives here on this Easter Day.

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor