Monthly Archives: September 2015

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

26 September 2015

Reflecting on James 5:1-6

Today is the feast day of one of the greatest figures in church history, and yet many of us know very little about St. Vincent de Paul. Let’s take a moment to remember him.

It appears that his main incentive for becoming a priest (in the year 1600) was to have a comfortable life. Can’t you just hear Pope Francis railing against a cleric like that? His conversion occurred after hearing the deathbed confession of a poor servant of his employer, the Countess de Gondi. He was so moved by him that he dedicated his life to serving galley-slaves from North Africa, victims of war, and those who were poor in many different ways.

Boy does that sound familiar. This French saint, and his great friend St. Louise de Marillac, would be right there on the front lines today, feeding and comforting and binding up the wounds of those millions who are fleeing Syria and Iraq and Africa right this minute.

St. Louise founded the Daughters of Charity as the first non-cloistered community of women, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.”

The letter of James today rails against the rich who cheat the poor. But the life-saving works that St. Vincent de Paul put into place in 17th century France were dependent upon the consistent, faithful generosity of the rich. He had close friends who were wealthy, and friends who were impoverished. So did Jesus.

I thank God for blessing with wealth all those who give it away so graciously.

Have you ever considered joining the St. Vincent de Paul Society?

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 B

19 September 2015

Reflecting on James 3:16-4:3

I had heard about this outrageous behavior, but didn’t realize it actually happened, until, in the past several years, many friends confided to me that at least one of their siblings had embezzled money from their parents’ estate in the years before their deaths. Then, astonishingly, they demanded even more than their share of the estate―often in blatant disregard of the parents’ express wishes―after their deaths.

Where do the wars and conflicts among you come from? asks the letter of James today. They come from exactly this kind of behavior. If there are five children, and an estate is supposed to be divided equally among them, then one child does not demand―or steal, as it turns out―more than twenty percent of the estate. Somehow, this easy math eludes a huge number of adults today, who apparently never catch on that their share of the pie is in direct proportion to the number of people at the table.

Why can’t we ever seem to remember that? How is it that adult children ask that they receive more than their share of an estate, with the certain result that their parents’ other children receive less?

You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Now that makes sense. If we consider that God is the creator of ALL life, than asking God to give us more (so that the rest of God’s creatures can have less) is a waste of God’s time and ours.  Indeed, as Dag Hammarskjöld wrote, “Your cravings as a human animal do not become a prayer just because it is God whom you ask to attend to them.”

Do you ever assume that you are entitled to more than your share of the earth’s resources?

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 B

15 September 2015

The other night, while enjoying an otherwise perfect evening downtown, my sainted husband Ben pointed out an older woman walking in the mall, dragging her suitcase behind her. Come to think of it, he said, I’ve seen several people this year in different parts of the city, carrying their suitcases around. They don’t appear to be going to the airport.

Who are these people, living in this country, who have to drag their belongings around with them? I can’t imagine how cumbersome, how exhausting that must be. When I travel, I always check my suitcase. It’s too hard to drag it with me everywhere I go. How terrible to have to carry your belongings around with you every minute of your life.

I try to get through the day not noticing the suffering around me because it’s so upsetting, and I don’t know how to truly help. And yet I love to read about heroic Christians of the past who stood up to slave owners, or ran soup kitchens out of their homes during the Depression, or brought to light, at their own risk, the terrible injustices of their day.

Hopefully, future generations will say, “I can’t believe our grandparents tolerated so much misery in their midst. We wouldn’t let any of that happen today. Was that really the best they could do?”

We’re trying! I want to shout. We need guidance to know how to do better! Yet that guidance comes straight from the letter of James today: Faith without works is dead. So, I’m going to try to really see the suffering around me. That’s the faith that will make future generations proud to call themselves Christian.

Have you ever been hungry and had someone say, “Stay warm and well fed”?

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 B

8 September 2015

Reflecting on Mark 7: 31-37

There are so many things that shout to us that the kingdom of God has not yet been fulfilled. War, and its accompanying miseries that ripple around the world, is the same soul-deadening sadness no matter which app you choose to read about it.

We feel distanced from it, thank God. But illness and health challenges are always right in front of us, and it seems like we ought to be masters of it by now. But, for all of our technological wizardry, those who are blind, or lame, or hearing impaired, or suffer from autism, or devastating mental illnesses, still bear witness that the kingdom is not quite here.

I think that might be why Jesus groans when he looks up to heaven and cries Ephphatha! Be opened! I imagine him, with his fingers in the ears of the man who is deaf, crying out to his Father from the depths of his soul: Father, look at all this sickness and suffering. Have mercy on these children. Open his ears. Open her eyes. Let them all be healed. The kingdom of God is here.

And immediately the man’s ears were opened. The kingdom had broken through.

And it continues to break through. Isaiah could read like this today: Then shall polio, and measles, and smallpox be vanished from the earth. Then shall those who are in pain get relief, and those who need new kidneys receive them.

In fact, if we had the will, we could wipe malaria off the face of the earth. Maybe that’s why Jesus groaned. He was begging those who have seen glimpses of the kingdom to partner with him to help make the kingdom come.

What advances in medicine have made your life easier?

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-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

1 September 2015

Reflecting on Mk. 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Within you read the bumper sticker on the car ahead of me. I’m getting better at recognizing grace when it hits me between the eyes, and so I relaxed into that beautiful message and felt more grace course through me.

Are you churning with rage over the behaviors of others? The power to forgive is within you. Are you tormented with anxiety about your children, your parents, your future? The grace to trust that the same God who has been faithful in the past will be faithful in the future is within you.

Why live a life steeped in sacramental grace if you don’t dip into it every day? It is there, within you, waiting to be activated. Jesus reminded the Pharisees of this. It’s not whatever image we try to project to others that is going to comfort us in times of need. It’s what is truly within us, and we have an endless bank of grace to see us through.

That is, of course, if we place ourselves in the direction of grace so we can receive it.

“Two wolves,” says the Cherokee grandfather, “battle within me. One is evil, anger, resentment, inferiority, superiority, and ego. The other is serenity, hope, empathy, compassion and faith.”

“Which wolf wins?” asks his grandson.

“The one I feed.”

So, says Jesus, make a conscious effort every day to feed your soul the grace that goes the distance. Give the benefit of the doubt every single time. See things from the perspective of others. Recognize―and this always comes as a shock ―that people have been forgiving you every single day too.

Graciousness, kindness, forgiveness. All these things come from within you, and they will save the world.

How will you activate sacramental grace today?

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