Monthly Archives: August 2012

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

25 August 2012

Lydia and Paul at Philippi

Reflecting on Ephesians 5:21-32

It’s been a long, hot, deadly summer.  And now comes the deadliest New Testament section in the whole lectionary, the instruction about the roles of women and men in marriage.

When you look at those words, Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord, you may feel like those disciples in the gospel today.  Like them, you might decide to return to your former way of life, and no longer accompany him.

Anyone who “speaks for Jesus” and doesn’t love women just doesn’t know Jesus very well.  His friendship with women is everywhere in the gospels.  He has dinner with them, and heals them, and on the day of his resurrection reveals himself first to Mary Magdalene.

But years before these gospel accounts were written, it fell to Paul to take this radical message of inclusion straight into the heart of the Roman world.  Phoebe, Lydia, Priscilla, Junia, and Chloe are just a few of the fascinating characters who make up his faith communities.  I suspect that it was his women friends who put up the bail to spring him out of jail in Caesarea, and maybe other places as well.

But even with all that, is the author of Ephesians ready to take on the heart of Roman patriarchy?   Actually, yes.  Because any man who loves his wife “as he loves his own body” is not going to abuse or hurt himself by dominating his wife.  And where there is no dominance there is loving submission, one to another.

Imagine a world where every person loves as Christ loves the Church.  Now that’s a marriage made in heaven.

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

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

20 August 2012

Reflecting on Ephesians 4:30-5:2

What if someone wrote you a personal note of practical advice like the one we heard in Ephesians today?  Here’s a letter someone might send to me, inspired by today’s second reading:

My dear Kathy,

Watch carefully how you live.  Remember the times you’ve acted foolishly.  Don’t do that again.  Remember that time when you held your tongue and reserved judgment?  That’s what wisdom feels like.  Do that some more.

Make the most of your days.  I like how you’ve been riding your bike more this summer.  Keep it up this fall.  It’s a holy thing to get in touch with the simplicity and fun of childhood.  That’s where you first started your conversations with God, remember?  Don’t forget that first love.  God is really present there.

And when you feel the Spirit, give thanks!  Notice when friends appear, or events unfold, or little children reach out their arms and say, “Watch me!”  Watch it all.  Feel the fading summer sun and the blessed cool nights.  God is there.

And never, never stop praying for those who grieve, especially those who lost their loved ones through violence this summer.  Pray for those whose wounds will be a lifelong challenge.  Pray for the miracle of changed hearts and minds.

And keep talking about the scriptures.  Remind people of the psalms and hymns that give them life.  Season your conversations with words of faith.  And always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for your own hope (I Pt. 3:15).

And eat more ice cream.  (That one may not have been in the original translation.)

How about writing yourself a similar letter?

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

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

12 August 2012

Reflecting on Ephesians 4:30-5:2

The second reading (from Ephesians) haunts me this week.  How wise the author of this letter is, and how desperately we still need those words today.

It’s hard to imagine how different the world used to be.  St. Patrick heard confessions from Christians in Ireland who rejoiced that they had murdered fewer people that year than they had the year before!  Saint Ignatius Loyola, after his conversion (!), set off to murder a man whom he fancied had insulted the Virgin Mary.  Grace and the Holy Spirit compelled him to take a different turn in the road, and that has made all the difference.

Believe it or not, the world is actually a safer place now than ever in history.  But what is the state of our souls?  Ephesians begs the earliest Christians to remove all anger and fury…reviling and malice from their hearts.  Ah.  So that’s where we can find common ground with those ancient believers, whose lives were in far more peril than ours but whose hearts bore the same burdens of rage and desires for revenge.

I wonder why these new Ephesian converts struggled with each other.  Was it bad blood between families?  Or, God forbid, were they fighting about religion? The Sikh community in Wisconsin now has to bear the terrible loss of their loved ones because one man let his racism and his ignorance of religion take over his soul.

Forgive each other as Christ has forgiven you. St. Paul knew that was the only way out of the sad webs of enmity we weave throughout our lives. It is the only truth that saves, then and now.

Are you having trouble forgiving someone?  Try to remember when someone forgave you.  That’s where God shows up, guaranteed.

Is there an area of your live where you need to learn tolerance?

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

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

6 August 2012

Reflecting on Ephesians 4:17, 20-24

The Ephesians reading today exhorts us to not give any attention or energy to deceitful desires, but to create a new self in Christ.

This brings me back to the terrible events of sixteen days ago, when one person gave so much attention and energy to deceitful desires that it was only a matter of time before they became reality.

The most inspiring words of this nightmare have come from those inside that theatre, and from the faith communities that love them.  This is where I find the heart of the struggle most beautifully articulated.

Even while in shock, one of the wounded knew the scriptures well enough to paraphrase John 1:3, 4 in relaying his ordeal:  It was so dark in there, and the sounds were so loud, and no one could see because of the tear gas he set off.  But here’s the good news: the Light is greater than the darkness, and the darkness shall never overcome it.

Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Conley sent a press release that I thought was the most powerful faith statement to come out of the ordeal:  In the chaos of the moment, people poured from the movie theater into the darkness of the night—the darkness of confusion, of ambiguity, of despair. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters cast into that darkness. They do not stand alone.

No, they don’t.  Ever.  But today I renew my baptismal promise to reject sin and refuse to be mastered by it.  That’s my little candle, but it burns amid the millions of flames of love kindled to accompany the victims on their way to the Light.

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