Monthly Archives: September 2010

Twenty-sixth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

25 September 2010

Reflecting on Luke 16:19-31

As I read this story today about starving Lazarus and well-fed Dives, I stop and look out our window.  Rows and rows of luscious greens, bursting with cucumbers and tomatoes and green beans, fill our backyard.  How, I wonder for the millionth time, could Lazarus have ever been hungry?

We lost our clothesline to the cucumbers.

Two years ago we gave our prickly, neglected backyard into the care of an urban gardening co-op called Farmyard. Then we sat back and watched these talented, hard-working young people turn our little yard into the Garden of Eden.  This is the season when God must love to say, “See what I can do?  The earth is mine, and all the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1).

I confess that until two years ago I never noticed where food came from.  And now, one hundred people are eating from the riches of the long-neglected soil just outside our window!  But, since God is so unbelievably generous, why are there still hungry people all over the globe?  For that matter, why was Lazarus hungry in the very same city where Dives was over-fed?  Maybe one answer is found inside the Gospel, where Dives, the former rich man who is now in torment, still thinks of Lazarus as his inferior, one whom God should command down to his netherland to cool his burning tongue with water.  Ha!  We can imagine Lazarus’ response: “Not ‘til hell freezes over.”

The seeds of entitlement, class distinction, geographic advantage are buried right there in the story, waiting for us to notice them and be converted once again to the new heaven and earth that the God of the harvest demands.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

In what ways are you partnering with God to feed the world?


What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-fifth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

18 September 2010

Reflecting on Luke 16:1-13

Hi everybody.  It’s me, Jesus.  Sorry about that parable today.  I know, all of you who own your own businesses want to know why it’s okay for that steward to cheat his boss like that.  Here’s the thing: if you had lived in the Middle East in the First Century you would have laughed and applauded my brilliance when I spoke that parable.

The Shrewd Stewart Art - work of Kazakhstan Artist, Nelly Bube

My prophet Amos had it so right.   I love that part where he called out those vendors and merchants for the religious hypocrites they were.  Sure!  Hurry up and get these religious observances over so we can start cheating the poor and trampling on the needy.  See, that’s what I was getting at in my story all those years later.  It takes a lot of energy and cunning to steal and exploit people.  (These days I’m especially thinking about the murderous drug cartels in my beautiful, Catholic Mexico.  And all the drug abusers north of the border who keep them in business.)

See, the steward was stealing from his master, and when he knew he was getting fired he used the same cunning to start making friends with the very people he’d been cheating for years.  Think how much hard work it took for them to pay the master in all that olive oil and wheat, and he was taking a huge chunk off the top!  So he canceled out his huge commission, which made their debts so much less.  It was like he knew he was on a sinking ship and he decided to give all his stuff away to the guys manning the lifeboats.  Now that’s smart!

So, the moral is: make friends with the poor, the beloved of my Father.  Look at me.  I was so poor I was buried in a tomb that belonged to somebody else.  No problem.  I knew I wouldn’t be staying long.  And you’re not long for the grave either, every one of you who loves me and recognizes me, as Mother Teresa said, in my distressing disguise of the poor.

Of course she’s here.  Where else would she be?  You should have seen all her friends up here opening those gates when they heard she was coming. Happy 100th birthday, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

What energies are you harnessing to do good?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-fourth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

11 September 2010

Reflecting on Luke 15:1-32

Even though we live in a religious country with a strong religious heritage, the very core of religious faith―that a loving God actually exists and actually longs for communion with us―seems to elude us.

Return of the Prodigal Son (Rembrandt) c.1669

And so we’ve come around again to the great Lukan parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son.  (This only happens in Year C, where we heard the story on the Fourth Sunday of Lent and again today.)  What will it take for us to really hear that the Hound of Heaven will chase us through the alleyways of our lives in order to catch us and look us in the eye and say, for the millionth time, but didn’t you know that everything I have is yours?

So let’s let Francis Thompson, tortured opium addict and believer in God’s mercy, remind us once again:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from Him….

I wonder.  Do you suppose that Lost Sheep was watching in the canyons to see if the shepherd would really leave everything to find her?  How delicious that must have felt, to hear him calling for her, and hear the relief in his voice when she stepped from her hiding place and he wrapped her up in his arms and carried her home.

Hey, do you know someone who’s ready to be found?  It’s not easy to step out of the dark canyon.  It takes a lot of humility to admit that we are loved that much.

Sharing God’s Word at Home

Do you recall a time of being “found”?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-third Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

4 September 2010

Reflecting on Luke 14:25-33

Okay, did Jesus really say we have to hate everybody we love in order to be his disciple?  Isn’t that completely out of character with everything we know about him?

Paul writing to Philemon about his slave Onesimus

First, the better translation for “hate” is “to love less than”.  Am I willing to love my own life less than I love being wrapped in the mystery and grace and healing love of Jesus?  Oh yeah.  Because it’s a win-win.  When I yield to the stronger-than-death love of Christ I find my life all over again, hidden and made richer through my day-by-day encounter with his Spirit.  How could I ever love my life if it were apart from him?

But look out.  A life in Christ means the status quo is out the window.  For example, the tribal codes of honor and shame that kept sons and daughters in perpetual debt to their parents were dismantled by Jesus’ invitation to follow him instead.  In that fascinating second reading today Paul reminded the Christian slaveholder Philemon that his slave Onesimus had been baptized, and was now his brother in Christ.  Wow!

So, loving Jesus more than we love slavery, family ties that welcome no stranger, religious restrictions that keep us forever bound up in guilt and unworthiness?  You bet.   That’s the liberating message of this difficult Gospel today. The disciple of Jesus hates everything that keeps a grudge going, a door closed, and a social status in place that, when the ship is going down, keeps some down in steerage while the rest of us get the lifeboats.

So I get it now.  That message is completely in character with everything we know about Jesus.

Sharing God’s Word at Home

Is there something you need to “love less than” in order to have a deeper faith life?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015