Monthly Archives: October 2015

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

26 October 2015

Reflecting on Mk. 10: 46-52

One of the more insightful comments during the pope’s visit came from someone―I can’t remember who―in the print media, who observed that the pope seemed to be just marking time during his visits with dignitaries, glancing at his watch until it was time to be with those whom he was longing to see. Seeing his face light up in the presence of those who are poor in this world, those who are economically vulnerable, those who face life every day with disabilities, it became obvious that those who are “the least” in this world are exactly whom he came so far to see.

I don’t think the apostles understood why Jesus was in Jericho. Given the hundreds of miles they walked with him, it’s easy to assume that they were strong and fit. I don’t think they understood that Jesus saw their struggles. He didn’t choose them, they might have been surprised to learn, because they were the strongest and the smartest. He chose them not because they were whole, but because he knew that they were broken.

And so, when the blind man called out to Jesus, those broken men shushed him. Don’t bother Jesus! He’s important, and you’re not! Somehow they didn’t realize, even after all they knew of him, that Bartimaeus was exactly whom Jesus had come that far to see.

So, let me ask you. What hurts you today? Lower back pain? Asthma? Anxiety? Aging parents whose physical needs are exhausting you? Kids who don’t go to church? You are exactly whom Jesus has come to see.

What do you want me to do for you? he asks. Tell him. Then take courage, and get up. Jesus is calling you.

The Church exists to assist and heal. How can you gather that help to yourself?

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-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Times – Cycle B

19 October 2015

Reflecting on Mark 10: 35-45

They were some of the most sophisticated men in the world in the 1630s. Highly regarded professors of language and philosophy, dozens of Jesuit priests chose to leave it all behind in order to live and die in the longhouses of the Huron Indians of Ontario, Canada. Eight of them would be horribly martyred at the hands of the ancient enemy of the Huron, the Iroquois.

“What do you expect of your priesthood?” the bishop asked Isaac Jogues on his ordination day in 1636. “Ethiopia, and martyrdom,” said the new missionary. “You’re wrong,” said the bishop. “You will die in Canada.” But, as it turned out, he was wrong.  Isaac Jogues, after serving three years in the Canadian mission, was captured by the Iroquois in 1642, horribly tortured, and then forced into slavery in their village in what is now upstate New York.

After thirteen months of brutal servitude, he escaped and made his way back to France. There, he was the toast of Paris. The queen knelt before him and kissed his mangled hands. Devoteés lined up outside the church to receive his blessing. His journals―some of the most beautiful letters to come from this period of history―were bestsellers all over France.

This celebrity, he wrote, was far worse torture than what he endured at the hands of the Iroquois. He longed not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many. And so he did. He returned to New York, and on this day in 1646, was beheaded by an Iroqouis brave, and his body tossed into the Mohawk River. Years later that brave turned himself into the French, asking for baptism.

In what ways have you been converted by those who live not to be served, but to serve?

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-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

12 October 2015

Reflecting on Wisdom 7: 7-11

Wisdom. We don’t think of it very often, but each of us operates out of the wisdom we learned―or, tragically, didn’t learn―in our youth. The ancient author of the Book of Wisdom valued wisdom far above any other possession. Why? Because if you learn to be wise in some things, everything else will come your way.

Families have certain Wisdom Traits that get passed through the generations. Never whine about the outcome of a game (or a test, or a grade in school). Be the first to congratulate your opponent, win or lose. Is your kindergarten classmate struggling with learning the skill of tying shoes? Kindly show her how you figured it out, then stick around until she gets the hang of it. These wisdom lessons set kids up for happy lives. Learn this wisdom early in life and even more wisdom will come your way.

My favorite Wisdom Saying came from my Irish grandfather, transmitted to me when I was a self-conscious adolescent. Kathleen, you wouldn’t care so much what people think of you if you knew how seldom they do.

Ouch! That’s horrible, right? But what a character-building truth that is. Unless we are, say, the quarterback of a certain football team, chances are very good that the people around us are not obsessing about what we did yesterday, or will do today. How liberating that is. How wise is the one who truly learns that.

Other Wisdom Sayings come to mind. If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all. Never let the sun set on your anger. Pick up after yourself.

How desperately the human race needs wisdom now. Lady Wisdom, come to us.

What are the favorite Wisdom Sayings in your family?

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-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

3 October 2015

Reflecting on Gen. 2:18-24

What a charming―and kind of scary― story the Genesis author composed in order to teach how man and woman came into the world. It’s charming because we learn that it was not good for Adam to be alone. He needed a suitable companion. It’s scary because God, apparently, presented him with all kinds of options――birds, cattle, wild animals―in hopes that Adam would say, “That’s the ticket. I’ll take that one!”

That’s one of the many humorous clues Genesis gives us that these primordial histories are actually sacred stories shot through with deep cultural symbols.  The ancients understood that the writer was simply displaying God’s immense creativity in showing the great diversity of God’s creations. I know I couldn’t sleep at night if I actually believed that the Master of the Universe tried to get Adam interested in a caterpillar as a suitable life partner.

There are other funny sections in Genesis too, that show the sacred author’s keen insight into the human heart. When God confronts Adam and Eve about their disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit, their response is classic. The woman made me do it, says Adam.  The snake made me do it, says Eve. The snake, curiously, so chatty earlier, decides to stay quiet, probably because there is no one else to whom blame could possibly be assigned.

When we are, with God’s grace, enjoying an eternity of perfect peace, it will be fascinating to talk with these brilliant authors of the Genesis stories. I’ll bet we will be astonished at how much more sophisticated and insightful they were than even the best writers of our own times. The snake, I assume, will not be present for that conversation.

What is your favorite story from the book of Genesis?

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