Monthly Archives: July 2014

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

26 July 2014

Reflecting on I Kings 3:5, 7-12

 Okay, you’ve bought your Powerball ticket, and you’re checking the numbers.  Look at that!  You’ve got two of the numbers, wait, three, no, four, no five!  Your heart is racing as you check that all-important last number, and YES!  You’ve won the Powerball!  All your worries are over!  You’re a mega-millionaire!

Now you’re standing with your big oversized check, cameras flashing, lottery officials beaming, and the question you’ve dreamed about for years is finally addressed to you:  What are you going to do with all that money? 

And here’s your reply:  I want to purchase an understanding heart so that I might judge rightly and distinguish right from wrong.

Good answer.  An understanding heart.  A listening heart.  Isn’t that the pearl of greatest price?  There is no greater love than to truly listen to someone, no greater gift than to be truly heard.  Solomon could have asked for anything, and he asked for that.  A very good answer indeed.

Think back on the people in your life who were able to put aside their own agendas and really, really listen to you.  Those are the people who change lives and heal hearts.

Parents are the people whom I observe with the most finely-tuned ears.  Because they love their children so much they are able to truly hear them, truly “get” them.  They listen, as St. Benedict asked us all to listen, with the “ear of the heart”.

The ancients had a lovely understanding of the workings of the ear canal.  They assumed that there were tubes that ran from the ears to the heart, so that one could truly hear.  I want that ear surgery, and I’ll bet Jesus knows just how to perform it.

How is your “hearing”?

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 A

22 July 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 13: 24-43

I’ve got the window open, and I’m eavesdropping on the conversation going on in our backyard.  There are at least six gardeners out there, laughing, chatting, and pulling weeds.  We were lucky enough to have our nearly-one-hundred-year-old back yard included in the Farmyard Community Supported Agriculture yards that these ingenious gardeners turn in to urban paradises every summer.

Debbie, the CEO and most astonishing Green Thumb of the organization, is casually mentioning her 45th birthday tomorrow.  The rest of the group feigns ignorance, asking random questions about how she is planning to celebrate.  She doesn’t have any plans.

If she only knew.  The real reason the full-court press on the weeds in our yard is happening today is that tomorrow night the yard next door to us, owned by Debbie’s great friends and co-workers, will be bedecked with summer tables and chairs and lanterns, and the heavenly fruits and vegetables Debbie’s gardens produce.  Our yard has to look equally beautiful, even though it’s only the staging ground for Debby’s surprise party.

It will be the best eating of the summer, until the fall feast that Debbie herself prepares for all the workers.  It’s early, still, to have a totally sustainable garden party.  But this group…mmm, boy do they know how to cook.

It’s always a mystery where all the weeds come from.  They are so careful to plant the seeds in the beautifully- tilled ground in March.  Weeding is a tedious task, but the gardeners do it with good cheer and optimism. 

God is endlessly at work weeding out what is deadly in us, too. Take a hoe to me, Master Gardener.  I want to look good for the Party.

In what ways are you producing good fruit?

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 A

13 July 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 13: 1-23

My friend Jim Kloppenberg has written a number of books that have become classics in the field of American Thought.  But to my mind the most important thing he ever said was in a conversation with me forty years ago.

I’ve decided that hell is being strapped down and forced to watch an eternal loop of how your words, and actions, and inactions caused pain to other people.

Imagine an angel taking you on a life review, and forcing you to watch how the seeds of your thoughtlessness or selfishness or just plain meanness had endless effects on the people who knew you, and all of the people they knew, etc.  Oh, wait.  Charles Dickens did that already.

Through the awesome economy of God’s grace, though, the reverse is far more potent.  Heaven will be our eternal astonishment at the harvest of healing and strength and forgiveness and goodness that just one kind word from us set off in the universe.

Here’s an example.  I’ve had a number of orthopedic challenges in my life, but my core perception of myself is as a strong, athletic person.  Why?  Because, at age five, my dad told me I was, and that seed fell on very receptive ground.  All these years later I hear his voice as I bike and swim and stand my ground against the effects of illness. Thanks, dad.

Chaos theory posits that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas.  God, who created order out of chaos, has created a world so fecund that a single smile can usher in the reign of God.  Yes, it’s a wonderful life.  So get out there and sow some seeds.

What good things in your life are the results of a single word?

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 A

4 July 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 11: 25-30

I have a great summer read for you.  James Martin, S.J. has written, in my opinion,  his best book ever.  Jesus: a Pilgrimage is an utterly captivating, easy to read account of his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  It’s delightful to see the holy sites through the eyes of this insightful author and spiritual director, who is seeing the places mentioned in the gospels for the first time.

Right off the bat he taught me something.  I knew that Jesus was probably not a “carpenter” as we think of that word.  It’s more likely that Joseph and Jesus worked with stone as well as wood.  In fact, Justin Martyr, writing in the year 90, said that carpenters made yokes and plows.

There go any fanciful images of Jesus as a slight young man with soft hands!  Imagine how strong and skilled he must have been, creating those sturdy implements in the blazing sun.  And then imagine him telling his neighbors, the ones who grew up with him and knew him  all those years of his hidden life in Nazareth, to take his yoke upon them, for it is easy and its burden is light.

Happy the oxen who bears a light yoke!  The craftsman who could make that was the pride of Nazareth.  And here is Jesus, bragging about his skill to his friends, urging them to trust him, to find relief and comfort in him, in the same way that their animals find comfort when one of his yokes is placed upon them.

Ah, summer.  Hot dogs, potato salad, and a book that brings Jesus right up on the porch.  Happy Independence weekend.

How have you learned to trust in Jesus more and more?

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