Monthly Archives: August 2014

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

31 August 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 16: 21-27

What profit would there be if you gained the whole world, yet forfeited your life?  That’s not a question we in the west take very seriously.  We can’t imagine what the Christians in Mosul have to face every day, but maybe we should make ourselves imagine it.

Christians have been the target of 80 percent of all religious discrimination in 139 countries around the world.  Attacks on Christians jumped 309 percent in seven years, and more than 100 million have been persecuted.  Since the time of Jesus, the world has seen 70 million Christian martyrs, and fully 50 percent of those have lived in the 20th century.

It’s hard to get an accurate count of the martyrs of this century, and certainly the events in Mosul will take those numbers to, in the words evocative of our country’s own terror 13 years ago, “more than we can bear”.  A conservative number is between seven and eight thousand yearly.  John Allen, author of The Global War on Christians, writes “Two thirds of the 2.3 billion Christians in the world today live…in dangerous neighborhoods.  They are often poor.  They often belong to ethnic, linguistic and cultural minorities.  And they are often at risk.   That point is more important than being precise about the death toll.”

In 1999, Columbine shooting survivor Val Schnurr had already been shot when her madman assailant asked if she believed in Jesus.  She said “yes,” and by some miracle was not killed.  Answering “yes” to that question in over 50 countries today can get you killed, with, in a world increasingly “tolerant,” no questions asked.

We must bear witness.  The prophet Jeremiah compels us.

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-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

23 August 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 16:13-20

When Jesus told Peter that it was his faith that would be the rock upon which he would build his Church, he was looking at a lot of rock.  He had taken the disciples up north to Caesarea Philippi, where a huge rock formation served as the Roman shrine for the vicious god Pan (later transformed by J.M.Barrie as the benign Peter Pan).

The Master Teacher used these surroundings to tell Peter― Petra, or Rock―that it was rock-hard faith that would be the foundation and sign of the Christian in the world.  The faith of the Christian should be as powerful as the collision of the continents that formed the earth as we know it today.

You wanna see some rocks?  Visit some of the awesome national parks that are part of the Colorado Plateau.  Thirty million years ago, the largest rock formation on earth (130,000 square-miles) was one piece.  But the forces of water and time gradually carved out the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the great stone Arches of southern Utah, and the awesome Grand Canyon. 

And of course these rocks hold secrets, mind-boggling secrets about vast underground bodies of water, the migration routes of the First Peoples of our continent 13,000 years ago, and even of the beginnings of life which the Master Designer breathed into the world so very long ago.

All this makes me wonder about what archaeologists thousands of years from now will say about us.  See here?  These path makers of peace, these missionaries of friendship and hope, these people who chose love over hate and thus saved the world?  They call themselves Christians.  And the gates of hell have not prevailed against them.

How is time turning you into a greater Christian?

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 A

17 August 2014

Reflecting on Matt. 15: 21-28

I hope that you have a lot of memories of your parents pulling a “Syro-Phoenician Woman” for you.  I do.  One time my dad actually went to the convent and spoke with the principal about me.   I came home from the first day of school in fourth grade very upset because all of my friends were in the other section of fourth grade.  He came home that night and said, “It’s okay, Kathy.  I went down and explained everything to Sister.  Tomorrow you’ll be in the other classroom.”  That feeling of being extraordinarily loved has never left me.

Imagine that tormented daughter, probably convulsing and having seizures, finally being at rest.  Imagine the peace, and the relief, and the immense gratitude she must have felt when the neighbors came running in and said, “You should have seen your mom!  She stood right up to the Rabbi.  He told her he only came for the Jews, and she told him that even the dogs get the leftovers!  And he laughed and laughed, and hugged her, and told her that her faith had blessed him so much that he could feel healing going out from him!”  That’s how I imagine that conversation went.

I’m positive that daughter never forgot the feeling of being so very precious to her mother that she sought out Jesus as he was passing through her town and begged for her life.  I’ll bet that wonderful knowledge of how deeply she was loved healed her as much as did the power of Jesus.

Go to God in prayer this week and beg for someone.  The Gospel assures us that Jesus longs for such faith.

Who needs the healing touch of Christ 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

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 August 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 14: 22-33

 I think Peter must have loved Jesus with all his heart and soul and mind and strength.  It was that love that compelled him and his brother Andrew to leave their nets behind when Jesus called them to begin his Assembly of Twelve years earlier.

And it was surely that love that pushed Peter out of the wind-tossed boat in the fourth watch of the night.  The Romans divided the night into three-hour “watches”, four per night.  It was now somewhere between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., and they were exhausted, terrified, and struggling mightily.

Even though the seasoned fishermen had set out in early evening, they still hadn’t crossed the Lake, which is five miles wide, because of the great gales. It was then that Emanuel―God with us―set out to be with them in the storm.  It was he who had commanded them to get in the boat and return to the other side of the Lake.  It was he who stayed behind in a deserted place to pray while they went off to meet the wind and the rain.  And it was he who was now coming to comfort them.

This was no still, quiet voice they heard, speaking to their hearts during a quiet retreat.  This was the screaming roar of an epic storm at sea.  It was in the storm that Jesus drew near to them.  And it was in the storm that Peter said, Lord, if that’s really you, just call me and I’ll come.

The next time you are terrified―perhaps of losing someone you love, or of a scary diagnosis―think of Jesus coming toward you in the midnight storm, calling your name.  Take heart.  It is really he.

In what storms of your life has Emanuel been “with 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

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

2 August 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 14: 13-21

My friends Arline and Bay recently moved into a beautiful assisted living apartment, and Arline can’t believe how wonderful it is to not be in charge of feeding people anymore.

Most nights of the year, for nearly sixty years, she prepared a beautiful dinner for up to ten people.  Of course, as the kids grew up and moved out of the house the numbers dropped, but as they married and brought the kids over for dinner the table grew again.  Bay helped when he was home, but that’s a lot of potatoes to peel, and Arline is weak with relief (and I’ll guess just a twinge of melancholy) that she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.

Every single meal we enjoy represents labor and attention, gift and sacrifice.   From the field to the farm to the beehive to the pasture to the dairy, all creation offers its gift, and then we humans prepare it and put it on the table.

Food is probably the best metaphor for the kingdom, and Jesus uses it often.  But it’s his suggestion to the Twelve—Give them some food yourselves— that’s the kernel of the story.  Whatever your gift is―attentive listening, loving parenting, sacrificial grand parenting, care for the elderly or for those on the margins in any way―God simply asks that you give it, and then watch it multiply.

This gift of yours is your “sign”, your signature on the world.  As Gerhard Lohfink has beautifully written, signs make room for the kingdom of God, and allow it to grow.  In your own unique way you too are feeding the five thousand, and bringing forth the reign of God.

How are you offering your own gifts for God to multiply?

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