Monthly Archives: February 2011

Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Times – Cycle A

26 February 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 6: 24-34

You know, tomorrow really does have a way of taking care of itself.  Weeping endures for the night, but in the morning comes a certain, unnameable peace.  Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday, and it’s just almost never as bad as we pictured.

They neither toil nor spin

But that doesn’t stop us from worrying the problem to death.  If we keep circling in on it, touching its tender corners, re-thinking our conversations, rewinding our what-ifs, maybe we’ll find a crack large enough for us to slip our hand through and re-shift the orbit of the earth and get us back to yesterday, before we found the lump, before we bought the expensive house with the balloon payments, before we hit the gas instead of the brakes, before we canceled the insurance policy.

Whew.  Just writing down a few things to worry about makes me start worrying all over again.  But then I hear those comforting words of today’s Responsorial Psalm (62):  Only in God be at rest my soul. God is my stronghold, my safety.  I shall not be disturbed at all.

But wait.  Not so fast.  Can God be trusted?  God’s grace has been sufficient and even abundant in the past, but is that enough to take to the Bank of Tomorrow?  Maybe it’s like using a muscle.  The more we trust today, the stronger and more enduring is our ability to trust tomorrow.

So get out there and consider those lilies.  Or, better yet, winter wheat.  Or the silent snow.  Or your own buttoned-up heart.  There is a wisdom out there, whispering in the February chill.  Trust in me, oh my people.

In what ways does your faith build on past experience?

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

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

19 February 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 5:38-48

He offered resistance to evil

You have to wonder about Jesus’ instruction to offer no resistance to one who is evil. What would have happened if Hitler had been killed during the war? Was it morally wrong for Claus von Stauffenberg (a Catholic) to enlist the aid of thousands of other Christians (including Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonheoffer) in an assassination attempt in July of 1944?  Records show that none took their resolve to break the fifth commandment lightly.  All had considered the millions still to be killed in the war and were willing to face God with their decision.

But no, the briefcase bomb was accidentally shifted and Hitler wasn’t killed. The Nazis quickly rounded up almost 5,000 conspirators and murdered them over the remaining 10 months of the war.

And yet today we hear Jesus say Turn the other cheek.  Walk the extra mile.  Hand over your cloak as well. Is there any wisdom out there to help us read this passage?  Plenty.

Here’s an interesting take on the text from Scripture scholar Walter Wink, who has written extensively on this issue.  He suggests that Jesus is offering some ingenious examples of passive resistance.

If a Roman occupier forces you to carry his weapon one mile (the limit by Roman law), then carry it two and put him in the brink for breaking the law!  If he slaps you on the cheek (a sign of his authority over you) then turn your cheek to the other side, forcing him to use his fist, which is the sign of your equality with him.

If he takes your tunic (only allowable for the day, not the night) then give him your cloak as well!  Stand naked in front of him and humiliate him in front of the guys.

What do you think of this?  How do you interpret the passage, what do you think of the assassination attempt on Hitler’s life which was instigated by believing Christians, etc.  This is a great text for conversation this week!  Jump in.

Does this passage trouble you?


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

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

12 February 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 5: 17-37

The Gospel today is so refreshing because it’s so in-your-face about the way we try to squirm out of really living it.

You are the light of the world

Don’t show up with your offering if you’re still furious with your brother.  Don’t be slimy about your fantasy life with people not your spouse and still pretend that you are faithful. Don’t do mean and unethical things just because nobody is watching (really?) or because the law hasn’t noticed your tax evasions yet. Don’t do just enough to not get caught, love just enough to keep up appearances, swear on anybody’s dead body.  Truth is truth and a lie’s a lie, so just tell the truth for heaven’s sake.

Here’s how the believer behaves, says Jesus.  Do the hard and holy work of reconciliation. Be faithful in your private life, and oh how your light will shine in public. Let your actions spring from authentic love.  Don’t watch the clock.  Don’t ask if there’ll be a test on the material.  Do fulfill the Law by abounding in love.  In fact, just love, and then do what you will.

Think of the children whom you love fiercely, whom you want others to love and give the benefit of the doubt, to whom you hope the world will extend friendship and compassion. No half-teachers, half-friends, half-loves.  You know how you want them to be loved.  Now go, says Jesus, and love like that.

Whoosh!  Did you feel that?  It felt a lot like the fire of Sinai, carried like an Olympic torch by you, the light of the world.

Are there ways in which you are just putting in the time instead of actually investing in love?

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

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

4 February 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 5:13-16

Darkness. The ancients experienced it in ways we can’t imagine.  My friend Erin told me about a scary twenty minutes of her life in a blackout one evening while she was walking home from work in Oakland, California.  She was just a few blocks from her house when the street lights went dark.  (This, by the way, is the same city in which my cousin was murdered in daylight as she was getting off the city bus 18 years ago.)

All these years later, Erin remembers that penetrating darkness, how immediately she became uneasy, then jumpy, then terrified as she walked the dark neighborhood streets she knew so well.  The lights from an oncoming car brought a few seconds of clarity.  Of course! That scary figure up ahead is just the open gate to the neighbor’s yard! But then she was plunged into darkness again as the car sped away, and those familiar streets morphed into sinister hiding places for ugliness and evil.

Some people, as Thomas Merton said, are walking around shining like the sun.  Every encounter with them makes you feel warm and loved.  They are found everywhere, little rays of light adopting children from Haiti, helping gang members recover their lives, getting up at night with the sick baby, loving that troubled adolescent, joyfully teaching the grandchildren their prayers, sitting with the parent who has long forgotten their name, preaching the Gospel and sometimes using words to do it.

And here’s the best part about being the light of the world: Isaiah says that when you shall call, the Lord will answer.

Who are the people you know who bring light?

In memory of Patty Cronin, a light-bearer

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