Monthly Archives: September 2014

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

28 September 2014

Reflecting on Philippians 2: 1-11

My husband has a great friend of his youth who has served as a priest for 23 years.  They lost track of each other for many years, and one day last spring Ben woke up and said, “I wonder what ever happened to Fr. Ben Reese.”

It was a God thing.  A quick google search revealed that this sweet, holy man, who never wanted anything but to be a priest, had been diagnosed with ALS. The particular form of his disease attacked his voice box first, so over the past year he has lost what he most treasured: his ability to say the words of consecration over the bread and wine, and of absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Imagine giving your whole life over so that you could proclaim the gospel and preach it, and then be unable to utter a word.  Imagine being unable to even say “Body of Christ” while distributing the Eucharist. Imagine having to rely on others so much in order to serve as a priest that my husband recently assisted him by praying the prayers for the dying for a man just moments before his death, while Father Ben blessed him.

Imagine being Jesus, who, though he was God, took on our human estate so thoroughly that he was able to be tortured, scourged, and nailed to a tree.  And because of that great humility every knee in heaven and on earth (and under the earth) bends at his Name.

We know that we will all face death. We cling to Jesus, who became one with us so that we would know that, in our most tortured state, we are never alone.

In what ways has the crucified Christ been a comfort to 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

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

20 September 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 20: 1-16a

It’s insane, of course, to buy a Powerball ticket, but I am willing to pay two dollars a few times a year for the opportunity to dream about the world I would create if I were fabulously rich. In that alternative universe, my winnings would buy cures for all diseases, housing and food and clean water for all living things, and treasured friends and life-long loves for all who long for them. That’s a lot to ask of six numbers on a piece of paper.

But the kingdom of God, where “every tear will be undone”, will be all of this. Today’s gospel spills the beans about the question that’s on the exam for entrance into the kingdom: did you show up?

Those lucky laborers didn’t have to work all day in the blazing sun, or even half the day. They worked the last part of the day, and then collected their paycheck. Don’t be put off by the grumblings of the other workers who labored since dawn. Certainly there were other areas in their lives where they too had only done the very minimum, but they will be joyfully welcomed into the kingdom as well.

You didn’t draw near to Christ all those years when you had the chance? Draw near now. You didn’t notice the mentally ill standing on the street corner with a sign? Notice them now. You didn’t visit the sick, care for the prisoner, give food and drink to those who needed it? Do it now.

You can’t win the Powerball if you don’t buy a ticket. You can’t enter the kingdom of heaven if you don’t show up. That clanging sound you hear is the gates of heaven opening wide so that all we latecomers can rush in.

Have you ever been surprised by the astonishing generosity of God?

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-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

17 September 2014

Reflecting on Numbers 21: 4b-9

Last week I had the opportunity to be on a jury.  When it came time to choose our foreperson we each admitted that if we found her guilty we didn’t want to be the one to look her in the eye and say it out loud.

In the end, it didn’t matter.  They polled each of us, and we each said “guilty”.  When it was my turn, I forced myself to look in her lovely young face and say, “Guilty”.  I reasoned that if I wasn’t certain enough to look her in the eye and say it then I should change my vote.

Sometimes we have to look at the very thing that makes us uneasy and name it. I felt my weakling self grow stronger as I met her gaze and spoke the truth that I believed, even while knowing that it would make her life more difficult.  But that truth may save her life someday, or the life of a passenger in her car, or in a car sharing the road with her.

Averting our gaze from our own truth―our addictions, our gossiping, our laziness, our self-aggrandizement―only hastens the day when someone else will have to tell us the truth about ourselves.  Hopefully, that won’t be in a courtroom.

Stare down the serpent as it is raised up in the desert and it will heal you.  That’s the beginning of true spiritual healing.  Recognize and name the things that are making you sick, or sad, or sinful.  Have the courage to truly gaze at them, and then watch God heal.

Or you could avoid self-knowledge today, and force a scaredy-cat jury to pronounce you guilty tomorrow.

What truths about yourself do you refuse to see?

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-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

11 September 2014

Reflecting on Responsorial Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9

What’s  the state of your heart today?  Crusty?  Sad?  Soft?  Hard? Stop for a minute and take note of it, because the responsorial psalm is pretty clear:  if God speaks to you today, don’t harden your heart.  God’s voice is best heard by those who keep their hearts supple and touchable.

The deadly Ebola virus is terrifying, but there is another highly infectious illness―particularly virulent in the U.S.―that is spreading just as quickly.  Here’s a short test to make sure you haven’t been infected with the dreaded Hardening of the Heart. 

  1. Your perpetually out-of-luck friend needs your nurture and attention.  You give him a call.  Again.
  2. The mail comes, and you read at least one of the letters from charities.  You set it aside and consider adding it to your list of donations.
  3. The hymns are sung, the gospel is read, the homily is delivered, and the General Intercessions are prayed.  You are moved, and changed, and you make a note to remember the people for whom we are praying this week.
  4. Sometimes you’re secretly relieved that your kids want to play on their electronic devices more than they want to talk to you, but you don’t give in to that. You limit their consumption of technology time and invite them into some actual family time.
  5. You never stop believing that people can change, and you risk the affection of ones close to you by encouraging them to face their weaknesses and be victorious over them.
  6. You never stop believing in the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.

Congratulations!  You are virus-free.  Now keep working on inoculating the rest of us.

How are you helping limit Hardening of the Heart in the world?

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