Monthly Archives: October 2011

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

30 October 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 23: 1-12

Don’t you love people who do wonderful, holy things every day, out of the sight of the rest of us?  Every once in a while we might accidentally catch them doing good, and I think it’s important that we do.  How else can we be edified and inspired if we never know that they are companioning an elderly neighbor through his last months in hospice, or loving and comforting a mentally ill spouse, or singing and dancing with a beautiful child backstage for four hours before she walks down the runway with Ed McCaffrey in the Down Syndrome Fashion Show?

There’s really no other possible explanation for the heroic things that average people do every day except for this: they are in love.  They have let themselves fall deeply in love with Love, and out of that collision has come hospitals, schools, shelters, food banks, foundations, and the spouse who, less than a year after her own mother’s long goodbye, now helps care for her husband’s mother as she begins that same journey.

Parents are the most inspiring example I can think of, especially those with children who are, how to say this, challenging?  Love is patient and kind, believes all things and hopes all things. Is there anything more beautiful than parents who believe and hope and love their children through the awkwardness of adolescence?

Let’s take a second to just let all that goodness pour over us and into us and out from us. It’s hard to be inspired by the Pharisees, who put their good works on display.  How sad.  Because our true measure is who we are when no one’s looking.

What example can you give of someone who is heroic in silent, small ways?

For Fred,  Lynda, Delane, and Mary

who continue to inspire after all these years

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 in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

22 October 2011

Reflecting on Mathew 22: 34-40

The challenge today to love our neighbor as ourselves is, as one clever writer put it, “like sand in your swimsuit”.  You can squirm and wiggle and try to re-position yourself, but that sand isn’t letting go until you deal with it.

Moses, painting by Jusepe de Ribera 1591-1652

Do we have enough resources between us all to let others matter to us as much as they matter to themselves? I think so.  Let me tell you about the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, who’ve heard and seen it all and still dig deep within themselves to listen carefully and lovingly to those most in need of mercy.

Let me tell you about Portland researcher Dr. Brian Drucker.  Way back when he was in medical school he looked at chronic myelogenous leukemia and said, “I’m going to cure that”.  For twenty years he worked almost obsessively, even enduring the ridicule of his peers at a conference where he presented his approach to a cure.  But he let his patients matter to him as much as they mattered to themselves. And in 2001 Dr. Brian Drucker brought the chemotherapy drug Gleevec to market, the only true cancer breakthrough in our lifetimes.

Let me tell you about the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, a group of twenty-somethings who give a year of service to children, teenagers and adults in Denver—precious human beings who long to matter to someone as much (or more, sometimes) as they matter to themselves.

Can you remember the times when you received that kind of love?  When someone really listened to your story and cared?  Really noticed your pain and helped take it away?  That’s what the laws of Moses, which Jesus is quoting in today’s Gospel, are demanding. 

 Or as Rabbi Hillel famously said,  “The whole Torah can be taught while standing on one leg: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow.  This is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary.  Go and learn it.”

In what ways have you mattered to someone as much as you matter to yourself?

In memory of Patty and Len Langenderfer.  Vincentian to the core, they simply noticed the needs of people whom they knew God had placed in their paths.  And nothing has been the same since.

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 of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

17 October 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 22:15-21

The Tribute Coin (Reubens, c.1612)

Every once in a while Jesus says something very funny, and today’s Gospel gives us one of his best zingers.  Cultural historian John Pilch points out that when Jesus says “Show me the coin that pays the Temple tax” he’s setting a trap that the Pharisees and Herodians never see coming until they’ve fallen right into it.

Since the denarius used for paying taxes bore the image of the emperor Tiberius (and the inscription identified him as the son of the “divine Augustus”) even having this coin in one’s possession was shameful.  But somehow those ever-observant Pharisees had the coin right there.  Can’t you just see Jesus given them the “Oh, well isn’t THIS interesting” look?

So they must already have been a little cowed when he took the sacrilegious coin from them and asked them whose image and likeness it bore.  Caesar’s, of course.  And then I imagine him asking “And whose image and likeness do YOU bear?” God’s, of course.  So live in that freedom.

“The world may have our hands, but God has our hearts” (Abraham Heschel).

In what ways do you see the image of God in those around 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

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

9 October 2011

Reflecting on Philippians 4: 12-14, 19-20

It was Christ who carried you

I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. How many times have you posted that on your refrigerator, recited it to yourself at the doctor’s office, or prayed it as you pushed yourself to swim that extra lap or run that extra mile?

I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. How many times have you prayed that as you left your warm bed to tend to a crying child, or answer the call of an elderly neighbor, or get ready for another day of work that provides for your family and contributes to the good of society?

I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. When you think back on times in your life when you were afraid, or powerless, or anxious, or sick, or in grief so deep you couldn’t breathe, can you now see that it was Christ who strengthened you, Christ who carried you, Christ who has never, never left you?

I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me, forever and ever, Amen.

What prayer do you hold in your heart and say throughout the day?

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 in Ordinary Time

1 October 2011

Reflecting on  Philippians 4:6-9, Matthew 21:33-43

One of the greatest things about growing up in my family was that our house was the meeting place for all of our friends.  We were ground zero for every pick-up basketball game, every Friday night fish-sticks-and-macaroni- dinner for ten before going off to swim at Celebrity Lanes.  My parents (of blessed memory) had waited many years for their kids to arrive, and they loved having their house filled with our friends and all the Beatles records that came with them.

Recently, I’ve had the great joy of re-connecting with many of the friends who came in and out of our house all those years.  Many of them have said to me, “Remember how I used to roll my eyes and laugh at your dad’s lectures before I left the house?  He had so much to tell me, and I didn’t want to hear any of it.  I wish I could go back and follow the advice he gave me then.”

As time passes it all comes into clearer view:  it’s only love that lasts, not fads and adolescent arrogance, not the pseudo-wisdom of pop psychiatry or the allure of instant popularity on Facebook.  Whatever is true, or honorable, or just, or pure, or lovely, or gracious, or excellent, or worthy of praise−−think on these things.  St. Paul’s words jump off the page today as we remember the times in our lives when we have been changed by an encounter with real graciousness, real forgiveness, real purity, real truth.

The Owner of the Vineyard graciously planted those fruits within our walls at our baptism.  How are we doing with the harvest?

What gracious or lovely or honorable things do you like to “think on”?

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