Monthly Archives: July 2012

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

28 July 2012

Reflecting on John 6: 1-15

We were there that day.  We saw it with our own eyes.  And we still can’t explain what happened.

It was close to Passover, so our family members had come all the way from Damascus for the feast.  A huge number of Jews—we must have been five thousand at least—had crossed the Sea to see more of Jesus, who had performed many wonderful signs while he was in Jerusalem and Galilee.

I can’t believe we forgot to bring food. We were so enraptured by Jesus that when he left to go across the Sea we just got in boats and followed him.  But by then it was too late to prepare the proper Jewish foods, since we were in the Gentile territories.

I thought we looked like the sheep in David’s psalm, the way we all rested in the green pastures.  Yes, hungry sheep waiting for the Shepherd to feed us.

There was a boy there who had five barley loaves and two fish.  The man they call Andrew asked him for them, and then gave them to Jesus.

It was just like the Passover!  Jesus took the loaves, blessed them, broke them and gave them to us.  But this I’ll never understand: unlike the matzo at Passover, this bread never ran out.  And there were enough baskets left over to feed the twelve tribes of Israel!

We were all astonished.  A number of us remembered how God had rained down bread from heaven all the years that our people sojourned in the desert.

Is Jesus another Moses?  We don’t think so.  There was just something about those loaves.

In what ways does Jesus fill you?

Every time I think about this story I bless my wonderful second-year teacher in the Biblical School, Gene Guiliano.  Most of the words of this column came straight from him.

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

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

21 July 2012

Reflecting on Mark 6:30-34

For he is our peace

The other day I heard a touching account of a young couple who spent the last seventeen years bringing the Gospel to the remote tribes of West Africa.  Unlike earlier missionaries who refused to learn from and adapt to African culture (the hapless preacher in The Poisonwood Bible comes to mind), this couple simply brought friendship to the Bini peoples. These bush-people had never seen a white person, never had any contact with anyone outside of their own region, and the enmities and hatreds of hundreds of years of strife between the tribes was always present.

These ancient Africans are mostly animists, holding that souls and spirits exist in everything.  But here’s the thing: none of these spirits offered a way out of their rage against neighboring tribes that had looted their land and murdered their families over the centuries.  War, and war, and war, and still no peace.

And then this couple, over years of friendship, told them the Good News which we hear in the second reading from Ephesians today: For he is our peace, he who made us one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh.  He came and preached peace to those who were far off and peace to those who were near.

This astounding good news—that forgiveness and reconciliation are the only way out of the dead end of endless war—was embraced by many of the friends they made there.  This Jesus knew betrayal and the agony of the cross, and his response was pure forgiveness.  And the world is still learning how to stand in that grace.

No Jesus?  No peace.  Know Jesus? Know peace.

And now comes the news of the massacre in Aurora.  Who can speak in the face of such  horror?

Oh Jesus, our only peace, we cry out to you today.  Send your angels to hold those who grieve. Send you healing upon those who are injured. Send your Holy Spirit to convert our culture from its attraction to guns and violence.

You are our peace.  Transform us into peacemakers.  AMEN.

Is the peace that Jesus offered making a difference in your 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

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

14 July 2012

Reflecting on Mark 6: 7-13

As I write this, Colorado is on fire.  In the past month over 32,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, some leaving so fast that they were separated from pets and possessions and photographs they would surely have gathered if there had been time.

Along with the gratitude of escaping the fires (which has taken six lives this season in Colorado) comes the discomfort of being without so many of the things that make our lives manageable.  Imagine moving into a relative’s home and being without your car, your bike, your laptop, your Kindle, your gym clothes, your prescription pills and vitamins, your daily prayer journal, etc. etc.

Imagine the kids in the guest homes, doubling and tripling up in rooms they once had to themselves.  And everybody sharing the same television set! How you’d miss that long shower in the morning.  And it would be so nice to have a set of clothes other than the ones you were wearing when you fled the fire.

That all supposes that you have a friend or relative to take you and your family in, but of course thousands have been sharing the limited resources of the shelters.

The Twelve in today’s Gospel are instructed to “take nothing for the journey”.  Of course they volunteered for that journey.  The evacuees were forced away, and many fled for their lives, leaving behind priceless mementos of their deepest loves.  We pray for all of them, that their empty hands may be filled with the grace God alone can give.

Have you ever encountered grace through being stretched out of your comfort zone?

My dear friends Barb and John Gallagher helped me with this column.  They live in Colorado Springs and personally know people who  endured the terrors of the Waldo Canyon fire. 

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

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

7 July 2012

Reflecting on Mark 6: 1-6a

Is he not…the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  Are not his sisters here with us?

St. Jerome in his study

Huh?  How can Jesus have brothers and sisters?  Doesn’t the doctrine of the Church state that Mary was a perpetual virgin?

That’s a great question, and the answer is fascinating.  There are thirteen references to the “brothers and sisters of the Lord” in the New Testament.  St. Paul and all four Gospel writers mention these brethren as if everyone knows who they are, and that it’s common knowledge that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

This was a problem right away, at least as early as 150 A.D., because a grassroots sense that Mary had remained a perpetual virgin began to emerge (although this is never mentioned in Scripture).  How to reconcile Scripture with an emerging tradition?

Someone wrote a second century page-turner called The Protoevangelium of James.  In this wildly popular book the author (posing as James, the brother of Lord) tells us all kinds of things that the brief and elusive scripture references to Mary never do.  It’s here that we learn her parents’ names−−Joachim and Anna—and that Anna consecrated her child as a perpetual virgin while Mary (Miriam) was still in the womb.

It goes on to say that Joseph (a widower) respected her status and married her when she twelve years old, fully embracing a celibate marriage.  And then the apocryphal (never canonized) writings, especially The History of Joseph the Carpenter, go crazy with stories about Joseph and his children from his first marriage.  Whew!  Mystery solved.

Except, as St. Jerome pointed out in the fourth century, “brothers” means “cousins” in Aramaic.

How do you feel about the tradition of Mary having “step-children”?

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