Monthly Archives: October 2010

Thirty-first Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

30 October 2010

Reflecting on Luke 19:1-10

Oh, Zaccheus.  We really get you.  Short in stature and huge of heart, you couldn’t hear or see through the crowd.  The Jesus whom you longed to know was here!  Right here in Jericho!  So you climbed straight up that sycamore in order to see him whom your heart already loved.  Your story inspires us still, and so we have the courage to pray:

From The Life of Jesus in Nazareth, 1908

Find us, Jesus, as we rise and pray our Morning Offering, as we care for children and parents, as we strap on our sneakers and go to the gym, as we give everything we have to our jobs and our families, as we make our examen before falling asleep.  Find us, Jesus, as we hear the baby cry and leave our warm beds, as we stand firm against the strong wills of our unformed teenagers, as we look at the same photo album a thousand times with our parents who suffer from Alzheimer’s.

Find us, Jesus, as we navigate the path back to peace after an argument, insight after a humbling experience, faith after a time of doubt.  Find us, Jesus, as we process together to receive you in the Eucharist, then to see you at every table throughout the week.

Find us today, Jesus.  See us in that sycamore.  Call us by our name.  Invite yourself to our house for dinner tonight.  Please, Jesus.   AMEN.

We are gifted with a question at the ground of our being. And even in the worst of times, we climb trees to find out what the answer might be.  (John Kavanaugh, S.J.)

My dear friends Mary Frances and Bill Jaster inspired this column.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

In what ways do you seek Jesus?

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

Thirtieth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

23 October 2010

Reflecting on 2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18

It’s frustrating not to know more about the world of Jesus and St. Paul.  But there is a clue in the second reading today, an actual insider’s joke from St. Paul (or one of his disciples) to the church headed by Timothy in Ephesus.

Nero's Olympics

“I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  And from now on, the crown of righteousness awaits me.”  Hmm.  Why does he use the image of an athlete competing in a race, finishing it and wearing the crown?  Could it be that Paul, from his chains, is sending along a little joke about the crazy man on the throne, the dreaded Emperor Nero, the one who would be his executioner?  I think so.

By the time this letter was written the whole Roman Empire was laughing at Nero because, at the Olympics in the year 67, he actually bribed the judges to let him compete.  He entered himself in six races and, guess what, won every one of them (no competitors allowed). And when he fell off his chariot in the race against himself, he still won and got to wear the victor’s wreath and process around the stadium to thunderous applause-on-demand.

Thanks, St. Paul.  All these millennia later, we still get the message.  Unlike Nero, we’ll run the real race and we’ll finish it.  We’ll keep the faith.  And at the finish line, with our last breaths, we will reach for Him who has forgiven us.  And the heavens will rejoice that another set of sinners has been lifted onto the Winner’s Podium, to be crowned on high with eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Special thanks to my friend Thomas Smith for the background information given in this column.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

How do you feel you are doing in “running the race” of faithfulness to your baptismal vows?

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-ninth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

17 October 2010

Reflecting on Exodus 17: 8-13

Last Sunday I was giving a talk about biblical history.   I had a big, heavy burlap chart that needed two people to hold it.  About ten minutes into this lesson Fred, dropping his arms (and thus the chart) said, “Will Aaron be coming soon?”  And the class, very biblically literate, erupted in laughter, recalling this story today from Exodus about Moses’ arms being held up by Aaron in the heat of the battle.

Victory, Oh Lord Painting by John Everett Millias 1829-1896

I looked at the couple I had recruited for the chart-holding task.  Their arms were aching, but they had dutifully stretched that chart across the room until they just couldn’t hold it anymore.  They, and hundreds of others, have been holding up the good works of the Church all their lives.

Afterwards, the doors of the hall burst open and a group of beautiful young adults came rushing in, hastily setting up the cots for a number of homeless families who will be staying at the parish this week.  They are part of a whole army of parishioners who will hold up the arms of these struggling families, providing friendship, food and shelter for them as the adults go to their jobs or look for work this week.

My cousin Maureen has a long list of people for whom she prays, every single day.  The years come and go, but she is always there, like the widow in Luke’s story today, holding up in prayer those who are sick, or jobless, or divorcing, or grieving.

Will Aaron be coming soon?  As I look at the faithful work of the Church around the world I can confidently say that he is already here.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

How are you helping to hold up the arms of the weary?

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-eighth Sunday – Ordinary Times Cycle C

9 October 2010

Reflecting on Luke 17:11-19

Do you have a certain time in your life that is so indelibly marked in your heart that you return to it almost daily?  For me that time is the fall of 2007, when a staph infection took me to the very limits of my strength.  Those horrible months are all stamped in my memory: the screaming pain, the overwhelming nausea, and the second-by-second waits for the medication to start working.  Those flashbacks return to me now, in this gorgeous fall of 2010, through the distinct sensory messengers of cooling days, leaves changing, and darkness descending earlier.  And this is what that suffering has seared in me:

One returned and thanked him

Utter delight, every single time I drive myself anywhere in the car.  Almost unbearable pleasure at the smell of apples falling from the trees. Laughing out loud as I walk by myself down the block in less than a minute, remembering the agony of trying to take even five steps at a time.  The ecstasy of walking into the grocery story.  The heavenly touch of those who love me.

But I think the most delicious experience of all is remembering, the endless remembering, of being brought back from the depths by the living Body of Christ―the hundreds of friends and family who took care of me through it all.   There can never be enough words of gratitude.  But it’s kind of a “cellular gratitude”.  It’s not anything conscious.  Pain dug a well that is now filled to overflowing with astonished gratitude.  Like the cured Samaritan leper, I will give thanks while I live.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

Have you reached a place of “cellular gratitude”?

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-seventh Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

2 October 2010

Reflecting on 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14

There’s an incendiary sentence in this week’s second reading from 2Timothy: “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God bestowed when my hands were laid on you.”  Those of us in Colorado and California have had more than enough “flames” this season.  One hundred and sixty nine Boulder families were recently displaced when flames, whipped up by winds, darted from house to house, destroying homes and hundreds of acres of land.   It is the most costly fire in Colorado history.

Beautiful Zeenat. She’ll be President someday.

But it does give one pause.  How quickly, how ravenously a fire can consume anything in its wake.  A fire starts out quietly (in this case in a fire pit) and then builds volume as it spreads.  And it’s just that kind of fire that the author of the letter to Timothy is encouraging!

I’ve seen lots of those kinds of fires.  Twelve years ago my brother Marty pointed out a little girl in his inner-city Math class and said, “This kid will be President someday if somebody will just give her a little help.”  Last year, at age 18 and a first-year college student, she wowed the benefactors at the Seeds of Hope gala with her poised and thoughtful reflection on the many mentors who supported her as she navigated her way through elementary school and high school.  She’ll probably be President of her own non-profit someday.  She will undoubtedly spend her life stoking the same fires of compassion and justice that were darting around her during those difficult years.

Send forth the fires of your justice, God.  And let each one of us fan the flames of radical kindness and goodness into a fire that can never be extinguished.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

Can you remember a kindness that one person extended that grew into a larger “firestorm” of 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