Monthly Archives: February 2014

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

22 February 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 5: 38-48

As the Olympics come to an end this weekend I find myself wondering: What if there were an Olympics that awarded medals for individuals or nations that best perform three events put before us in today’s readings?

  • Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people (Leviticus 19:17).

Are you STILL nursing that grudge against your sister after all this time?  Get over yourself.  Review the past and see things from her perspective for once.  Disarm yourself.  Call her.  The family member who takes that advice to heart wins the gold medal, and gets the biggest chocolate bunny this Easter.

  • Give to the one who asks of you (Matthew 5:42).

On the website that accompanies this column there was an exchange last week that brought this controversial Olympic event into focus.  Due to a childhood in poverty, Becky’s basic reading and writing skills are poor.  During the past few weeks she expressed on the site a number of beautiful theological insights drawn from her lifetime of suffering.

An English teacher might be tempted to take a red pen to the errors in spelling and sentence structure.  Instead, Cris, a highly educated reader a thousand miles away, chose to read past the grammatical struggles and responded to her heart, the heart she was asking to be cherished.   It’s a tie.  They share the gold medal, Becky for having the courage to ask to be heard, and Cris for truly hearing.

  • Forget not all God’s benefits (Ps. 103:2).

When you drew open the blinds this morning did you instinctively thank God for sunlight?  Step up to the dais.  The gold is yours.

In what virtues are you training for Olympic gold?

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 in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

17 February 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 5: 17-37

Now that the Jaqueline Kennedy interview tapes have been released, we know the fascinating advice her husband gave her about managing the hostility she felt toward some of the foreign guests at the White House.  He said, “Jackie, you can’t think these insulting things about people, even in private, because someday those thoughts will come slipping out of your mouth at some state dinner, and next thing you know we’ll be at war with Russia.”

How true.  Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when he said that insulting each other is like committing a murder.  Unkind words are not easily forgotten, regardless of how much we assure the contrite friend that all is forgiven.  The general trajectory of hurtful words is hurt feelings, which invariably lead the offended party to get revenge in some unconscious way.  We have no real cultural model in which to say, “You really hurt me last month, and I thought I could forgive you, but I find that I am apprehensive and hostile towards you now.” True forgiveness is hard work, and probably takes longer than we’d hoped. 

So, the way to avoid all this is to go on a fast from thinking uncharitable things about people.  This is harder to do today than ever because creatively insulting people is the national media pastime, especially in election years, and when is it not an election year? Fast from imagining some hilarious barb you would sling at someone, and chances are you never will sling that barb, which will keep them from having to come at you someday with a hatchet.

What experience have you had with the “murder” that hurtful words can cause?

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 in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

9 February 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 5: 13-16

I am surrounded by light.  I can’t even remember what darkness looks like.  Every time I pick up a bulletin, every time I have a conversation with a friend, well, I am almost blinded by light.

Have you noticed that Jesus didn’t say, “Do good works and you will be the light of the world”?  He said, “You ARE the light of the world.”  YOU, right now, are a little lantern walking around in your home, your job, the soccer field, your parish.  And every time you share your bread with the hungry this huge burst of light pours out of your lantern and warms everyone around you.

YOU are the city set on the hill.  You know that enchanting, light-filled house you can see from the highway and want to drive over and see it up close?  That’s YOU.  And every time you shelter the oppressed and the homeless your house becomes even more inviting, more alluring than the brightest star, and immigrants and refugees take courage as they make their way towards it.

YOU are the salt of the earth.  You know that gracious, open-hearted, open-handed person who removes oppression, false accusation and malicious speech? That’s YOU.  And every time you stop gossip in its tracks and end conversation that is hurtful of others, YOWZER!  A gigantic salt-shaker makes everything around you delicious.  Bring on the margaritas and chips.

Want to make your city on the hill even more visible? Check out www.oxfam.org.  Want to give out more light than a supernova?  Go to www.covivo.org .  Let the Vincentian charisms wash over you, and then step back.

Break forth, oh beauteous heavenly light.

Who are there people in your life who radiate 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

Presentation of the Lord – Cycle A

3 February 2014

Reflecting on Luke 2: 22-40

Rembrandt, Simeon in the Temple, 1669

Even though we are reading from the gospel of Matthew this year, today’s feast falls on a Sunday and therefore trumps the Ordinary Time readings.  Since two female saints, Mary and Anna, are featured in the account, you can bet that Luke is the author.  He loves to tell us stories about women, especially Mary, and we love to hear them.

This story is all about timing.  Mary and Joseph waited the prescribed forty days and then entered the Temple.  Simeon was led by the Spirit to go there that day, and Anna purposely placed herself in the Temple every day so that she could bear witness to God’s perfect timing.

Have you ever been at the right place at the right time? So often it’s only in looking back that we recognize the perfect timing that led us to our spouse, or to our friends, or to faith itself.  But much of “perfect timing” has to do with aligning ourselves with grace.  Mary and Joseph complied with the Law.  Simeon complied with the Holy Spirit.  And Anna complied with her inner knowledge that if she was to see her Savior she needed to stay in the Temple.

We live our lives immersed in mystery.  We are astounded at the perfect timing of many events in our lives.  Somehow, we intuitively sense the Divine, and situate ourselves to be receptive to the presence of Christ, visible and invisible.

It’s in that patient day-to-day watchfulness that our lives unfold.  And one day, in God’s own time, we too will say:  Lord, dismiss your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.

What moments of “perfect timing” have you experienced?

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