Monthly Archives: July 2015

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

28 July 2015

Reflecting on Jn. 6: 1-15

Remember Joey on Friends? He loved women, would do anything he could think of to attract them, and was thrilled to take a beautiful woman out to dinner. Unless, of course, she tried to taste anything on his plate, or share his French fries.

I don’t share food! he would shout. This was his non-negotiable. She could have anything of his that she wanted. But she couldn’t have his food.

We live in a culture of abundance, but we buy into the myth of scarcity. So what if she shared his dessert? He could always buy another one, and they could share that too. But Joey was loathe to venture out of his unconscious fear of not getting enough.  Even if it meant insulting his beautiful date, some things were just sacrosanct. When it comes to food, what’s mine is mine.

Protecting our food source is, of course, one of the strongest drives of the unconscious. And into that primordial pull steps Jesus, who says, “Have the people recline.” For just that moment, the five thousand who crossed the lake to find him would not be forced to leave because they were hungry. They could stay, reclining on the “green grass” so reminiscent of their beloved Psalm 23, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

Ah. So Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus feeds his flock. After he blesses the five loaves and two fish―such a miserable catch for the enormous crowd― the myth of scarcity dissolves in front of their eyes. All are fed. There is plenty of bread.

There are more than enough resources in this world for all to be fed. Only then can we truly be friends.

Have you ever noticed that you eat less when you are enjoying the companionship of friends?

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 B

20 July 2015

Reflecting on Mark 6: 30-34

I was lucky. Unlike the majority of my peers growing up in the fifties, I learned many of the stories in scripture through a beautiful children’s bible that we took off the shelves every Friday afternoon at St. Vincent de Paul Grade School. The illustrations, the stories, the connections with real life grabbed me by the heart. That fascination has never left me.

Then I got lucky again. Sr. Macrina Scott―she of blessed memory―created the acclaimed Catholic Biblical School just in time for me to spend the rest of my life utterly mesmerized by the endless depth and breadth of the scriptures, and the insights of those who teach it.

When I started learning scripture I was just like the people longing to get close to Jesus and the Twelve. What a scene that is. Jesus tells the exhausted apostles to come away with him to a “deserted spot” so they might rest from their long journey. But the crowds, so hungry for the word of God, “hasten on foot” to meet them there. Maybe you’ve had this same experience while trying to escape your kids for just a few minutes?

When I stand in front of “great numbers of people” who long to learn the scriptures, I tremble at my great good “luck” again. But I am moved with pity for all the people who are intrigued by something they’ve  heard at Mass during the scripture readings, but haven’t known where to go, or whom to talk to, to open up the deeper meaning.

Are you starving for a more intimate grasp of the scriptures? Proceed with caution. Take it from me, once you start investigating the gospels you’ll have a hunger that never goes away.

What passage of scripture most intrigues 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

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

13 July 2015

Reflecting on Mk. 6:7-13

Take nothing with you, Jesus said.  No money, no food, no walking stick. The Twelve would be completely at the mercy of those who extended hospitality towards them.

Have you ever spent a night, or even a few hours, away from home without your driver’s license, your credit card, your phone and your car keys? This “immersion experience” is employed by many religious communities as an opportunity for their novices to share, even for a very short time, the helplessness of those who live on the street.

I remember that scene from The Hiding Place, when the Nazis stormed in to Corrie ten Boom’s home. Unsuccessful in their search for the rumored “secret room,” they arrested Corrie and her family. She had anticipated this night, of course, and had her bag packed with some treasured photographs, her nightgown, a change of clothes, and some aspirin.

What a comfort that aspirin would have been. She was suffering from influenza the night of her arrest. But the bag happened to be propped up against the hidden closet. Fearful that some tell-tale article of clothing might be hanging out from the hastily closed secret door, she left her bag behind. Of all the heroic actions she took to save the many precious lives hiding in that room, that’s the one that touches me the most. She was now, sick and aging, utterly without any of the comforts she had hoped to take with her to the camps.

Except for one. She had the companionship of Christ, who gave up heaven in order to be one with us on earth. That trumps the sacrifice of a night on the street without a cell phone.

In what ways have you experienced solidarity with those who have nothing?

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 B

7 July 2015

Reflecting on 2 Cor. 12: 7-10

Okay, St. Paul, I admit it. I’m curious. What exactly WAS your “thorn in the flesh”? I mean, you brought it up. It can now be admitted as evidence. What so tormented you that you begged the Lord three times to take it from you?

Some contemporary cultural cues set in. Hmm. Did you have an eating addiction? Could you not leave the hummus and pita alone? It seems unlikely, since you voluntarily traveled thousands of miles away from the cities that were a secure source of food in order to bring Jesus to the most remote parts of the Roman Empire. I need to know where the refrigerator is at all times, but you willingly put long distances between yourself and the comforts of food for the entire second half of your life.

Or maybe you were lonely, and were tempted to leave the mission fields behind in order to have a wife and family. That’s a significant “thorn.” You worked with married couples throughout the empire, and must have envied the consolation they provided for each other. And you were always meeting and working with women who have no husbands! Lydia, for example, was a successful businesswoman and your first convert in Europe. At her insistence you stayed at her house after you baptized her. Was it love for her about which you begged to be free?

Or did you struggle with alcoholism? Were there three episodes during your missionary life when you over-indulged, and then begged to never touch another drop? If so, you are in the company of millions and millions of people who have “taken the pledge” too.

I find it immensely helpful just knowing that you struggled with something. Thanks for sharing.

What successes have you had against your own “thorn in the flesh”?

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