Monthly Archives: August 2015

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

24 August 2015

Reflecting on John 6: 60-69

As I write this, the bells are ringing, calling the pilgrims who have traveled to the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario to prayer. The Jesuits came here to New France in the 1630s, to freeze and starve, to paddle canoes over thousands of miles of treacherous waterways, and to live and die in the camps of the Hurons. Eight Jesuits―six priests and two donnés, or lay helpers―were martyred here and in upstate New York.

We Americans know St. Isaac Jogues the best of the eight, because he was killed by an Iroquois tomahawk in New York and he left the most unbelievably vivid and brilliant journal of his life as a missionary to the Mohawks.

But here in Canada, St. Jean de Brébeuf is the most beloved of all those martyrs. He was a large, generous, extraordinarily loving man who lived with the Huron/Wendat for nearly twenty years. It is his name that the native converts called when they were sick and dying. And when the village where he was giving a mission was raided by the Iroquois one terrible night in 1649, instead of fleeing from the fires they said, “Come, let us die with him.”

And so they became eyewitnesses to the destruction, through hours of torture, of the body of the man who had baptized them, comforted them, nursed them through illness, and brought them to Jesus. Because of them we know that, in the end, his tormentors cut out his heart and consumed it, that they might have, in their own bodies, his strength and power.

Unless you eat my Body and drink my Blood you shall not have life within you.

I think I get it now.

In what ways does your reception of the Eucharist give you Jesus’ strength and power?

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 B

15 August 2015

Reflecting on Proverbs 9: 1-16

Wouldn’t it be great to be Lady Wisdom? She has this gorgeous dinner prepared―and I’ll bet her house is clean too, and not just because she’s having company. The meat and wine are laid out, and her maids go out to call the guests. I know for sure I’m invited to that banquet, because it is specifically for “those who lack understanding.”

She, like a parent taking her child out for a driving lesson, is ready to impart a lifetime of vital, life-saving advice. But is her eager-to-get-on-the-road teenager paying attention?

We all wish we had listened when our own parents and teachers tried their best to set us on the straight path. How much happier and healthier we would be if we, in fact, HAD actually saved a portion of our paycheck, or eaten more broccoli and fewer brownies. Even as I write I’m still not sure the second part of that sentence is true.

And therein lays the problem. In order to see the fruits of wisdom in our lives we have to actually believe that we will be happier ―not right this minute, of course, but down the road―if we do the right thing. Happiness is a powerful motivator, but delaying gratification in order to have it is the challenge.

Look at our ancestors, the Jews said to Jesus. They gave us manna to eat. And Jesus’ retort is priceless. Right, and what do we notice about them? They all died in the wilderness. The quick fix of daily food kept them alive for a while. But Jesus, the New Moses, is looking at eternity, and gives us his Body and Blood to get there.

Okay. I’m listening.

What wisdom are you glad you listened to?

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 – Cycle B

9 August 2015

Reflecting on Ephesians 4:30-5:2

What? No bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, or reviling? How will we ever get through football season, not to mention the presidential debates? Somehow it’s enlightening to know that the Christians in ancient Ephesus had the same trigger tempers and rude behaviors that mark so much of what passes for adult discourse in our day.

The author of the letter to the Ephesians had to spell out the ABCs of how those who have embraced Christ should behave towards each other.  Yes, they had to be scolded. Yes, they had to be schooled in the soul-changing virtues of compassion and forgiveness. But the Good News is that the radical social engineering that is the Christian life took root and bore fruit that remains.

The early Christian church in the first three centuries after the resurrection brought about the most amazing transformation of diverse social and religious cultures ever achieved by peaceful means in the history of the world.

Sociologist Rodney Stark analyzed the survival and growth of the early church in the first few centuries. He offers the following observations:

To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. And to cities faced with epidemics, fire, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.

Tertullian, writing from North Africa around 197AD, cited his pagan neighbors remarking, “These Christians, see how they love one another!”

We’re still working at it. But Christ has won the victory. We have only to carry it out.

If you were tried as a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict 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 B

3 August 2015

Reflecting on John 6: 24-35

It sounded simple when Jesus said it. You want to take part in the work of God? Believe in me.

But today, in our postmodern, post religious world, belief in Jesus is some of the hardest work there is.

Our generation doesn’t think we need to sit in church every Sunday to be good people.

I think I can speak for any of the over-fifty crowd who still fill the pews in any parish when I say that not one of us is here because we think “sitting in church” makes us a good person.

We are here because we want to participate in God’s work in the world, and belief in Jesus gives us the comfort and inspiration to reach outside ourselves, and to know his presence.

Exposure to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to those who share our desire to hear it and live it, does us good and not harm every day of our lives.

Here is the example that touches me to my core. In the thirty years that I’ve known my husband Ben, he has accompanied me through a tedious list of serious illnesses, accidents, and surgeries. We long since passed the mark where I could possibly take the same care of him in our life together as he has taken of me.

If Ben were comfortable to be “postmodern,” I think he might have noticed long ago that it might be much easier to travel through life with a more mobile spouse.

But he is joyful to be a servant.  Inspired by Christ and his scriptures, Ben loves his wife. I never want to live in a world that is too sophisticated for that.

In what ways does your belief in Jesus affect your behavior and your happiness?

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