Monthly Archives: July 2016

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

24 July 2016

Reflecting on Luke 11: 1-13

If we don’t read the last eight words of today’s gospel, we will, I’m convinced, either despair of God’s mercy, or, tragically, of our belief in God at all. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t asked God to heal, and then wept at our loved one’s deathbed. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t knocked, and felt the cold, locked door. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t sought, and yet never found. But the gospel insists that none of these things will happen for the prayerful person.

Here’s the way it makes sense: Our Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. That’s the profound and lasting truth. When we ask for the Spirit, we will receive. When we knock at the door of the Spirit, it will open. When we seek the Spirit, the Spirit shall be found. I have never known that prayer to fail. Ever.

So, now that you know the one prayer that works every time, try it. Ask for the Holy Spirit. Ask for the seven gifts. While you’re at it, ask for the fruits―love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Maybe it’s best to ask for just one at a time! That’s a lot of transformation over night.

Here’s my prayer these days: O God, give me more of your Holy Spirit. Give me a desire to pray. Help me see every human being through your eyes. Give me the courage to speak truth to power.

Hmm. That sounds like a description of Jesus. I get it now. When we receive the Spirit, we take on the very heart of Christ. No wonder God begs us to ask.

How does the Holy Spirit act in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2016

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

18 July 2016

Reflecting on Luke 10: 38-42

Don’t you just love Cycle C? Every three years we cycle around to Luke’s gospel―we hear Matthew (A) and Mark (B) the other two years―but it’s Luke gospel that tells us most of the great stories about the women in the New Testament.

It starts with the very first chapters. Only Luke knows that Mary walked all the way from Nazareth to Ein Karem―about ninety miles, in the earliest stage of her pregnancy―to tell her cousin Elizabeth her astonishing news and to help her with the birth of her own miraculous child.

Luke knows about the prophetess Anna in the Temple, about the healing of the woman bent double whom Jesus calls “daughter of Abraham.” Women star in some of the parables, like the woman who sweeps all night in search of a lost coin, or the widow who bangs on the door of the judge all night until he is so aggravated he actually gives her justice.

And now, today, this marvelous Lukan story about two of Jesus’ very closest friends, Martha and Mary. We see the ending coming before it gets there. Jesus, birthed of woman, taught the scriptures by his mother―note that Mary is quoting the great Old Testament woman Hannah (I Sm. 2: 1-10) when she sings her Magnificat to Elizabeth (1: 46-55,)― supported by women in his ministry (8: 2, 3,) and so beloved of Mary of Magdala that all four gospels name her as the first to testify to his resurrection, gets it. He’s seen the strictures that kept women in their place.

With just a few words he sets both women free. And wow, does Martha burst forth. This servant and disciple becomes, in the last gospel, the very first person to recognize Jesus as the Christ (John 11:27).

Which charism are you more drawn to, service or contemplation?

Kathy McGovern ©2016


Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

12 July 2016

Reflecting on Dt. 30: 10-14

I’ll never forget the day I heard those words from the Deuteronomy reading today: No, the word is very near to you, on your lips and in your heart. You have only to carry it out (30:14). I was listening to our brilliant Biblical School teacher, Angeline Hubert, open up to us the beautiful book of Deuteronomy.

I could tell that this text was very personal to her. It has, over the years, become her “signature text,” the section that people most associate with her. I thought about the witness of her life, her simple and profound companioning of those who are elderly, sick, poor, or left out of the riches of our resources. I thought of the sacrifices―some of them jaw-dropping―she was willing to make in order to “carry out” the word that is so near.

What a straight shooter the author of this book is. He understands that we will offer any possible excuse for not doing what our hearts know is the right thing. Oh, the bible is just too mysterious and remote for me! Who can figure out the right way to behave in this ever-changing society? I’m just not holy enough (thank God) to volunteer/take that class/live a life worthy of my calling.

Phooey. The priest and the Levite knew all about holiness, but, bound by its legislations, they couldn’t stop to help the man wounded in the road. The despised Samaritan, however, considered outside the Law, was free to act on the holy urgings of his heart. Using common sense, not fancy theology degrees, we can be safe and yet still act when the word of God, planted in our hearts, compels us.

What “holy urgings” keep you doing the things your heart knows are right?

Kathy McGovern ©2016

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

6 July 2016

Reflecting on Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20

What an interesting gospel.  Apparently, those 72 disciples were doing “advance work” in the towns Jesus planned to visit. Maybe they were sent to assure people that what they had heard about him was actually true.

Yes, they might have said, he truly did say that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies! And when they tried to push him over the cliff he just passed right through them! And yes, he told his friends to cast their nets back in the water after they had fished all night, and the catch was so great they couldn’t haul it in! And yes, he did raise the widow’s son from the dead!

Imagine yourself on that mission. You don’t have anything to comfort you on the dusty road. No cell phone to stay in touch with family. No band aids for blisters. No extra jacket for the cold nights. It sounds, to my wimpy ears, like a miserable experience.

And yet, imagine being the first person to announce the kingdom of God to a city longing for that message. What joy. What grace. Oh yeah. I’d sign up for that.

Speaking of signing, those who bravely signed the Declaration of Independence agreed with Thomas Jefferson that “all men are created equal.” Some of them believed that so deeply that, if they owned slaves, they set them free. Jefferson himself, however, hypocritically owned 175 slaves on the day of his death, the Fourth of July, 1826.

The kingdom is at hand, Jesus said. As we celebrate freedom this weekend, let’s consider the ways in which we are building the kingdom, and declaring our independence from the hypocrisies which dilute our witness to Christ.

What inconsistencies in your life keep you from truly experiencing freedom?

Kathy McGovern ©2016