Monthly Archives: October 2016

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

22 October 2016

Reflecting on Lk. 18: 9-14

The Pharisee and the tax collector have something sacred to teach us. We must hold it close. To realize that we might actually be the Pharisees, the ones who think (secretly, of course) that we are more deserving of God’s mercy than anyone else, is a grace in itself. The surest and quickest passage to God’s mercy is to be profoundly aware of our need of it. I’ll bet that most readers immediately identify with the humble “sinner,” never realizing that the Pharisee is much closer to their true identity.

Try to remember a time when you were humbled by sin. Maybe one of the deadly sins has you in its vise, and a lifetime of wrath, for example, finds you banging on the hood of somebody’s stalled car at rush hour. Or maybe, like me, you are intentionally blind to the deadly sin of greed, so that a lifetime of using far more resources than the rest of the world gets to have has made you dependent and weak.

It’s a precious gift to be humbled, to bow before God and say, “Lord, I thank you that I’ve finally been found out. I thank you that the world now knows what you’ve known all along. I want to change more than I want to keep up the charade of being less sinful than I am. I humbly realize that I’m not fooling anybody, especially not you. Be merciful to me, a sinner.” Recognizing and naming our sinfulness doesn’t feel good, but it changes us. It nudges us a bit closer to heaven, where sinners are welcomed home every day.

How has the awareness of sin in my life changed me?

Kathy McGovern ©2016

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

15 October 2016

Reflecting on Lk. 18: 1-8

My husband Ben and I are leading a pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima this week. I’ve asked everyone I’ve talked to recently how we can pray for them while we are there. It’s so touching to me how people never even think to pray for themselves. Always, it’s their kids, and it’s sad how similar the prayers are. Please pray that my kids go back to church.  Please pray that my grandchildren get baptized. Please pray that my son gets a good job. Please pray that my daughter’s depression gets better. Please pray for healing of my grandchild’s drug addiction.

My oncologist, a smart, warm, funny doctor who wears charming ties and never appears to be the least bit hurried, has a stunning poster in his office at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. Against a dark blue background, a battered but sturdy oak tree holds its own against the wind and the cold. The text says: Do not pray to have an easy life. Pray to be a strong person.

What does it mean to be a strong person? That widow who goes it alone at the city gates, never offering a bribe, never losing hope that she will be heard and given justice, now she’s a strong person.  Imagine what that takes, to have no influence, no special interest groups lobbying for you, just your faith that the judge will hear your case and find in your favor.

Jesus must have seen the blind, the starving, the dying every day. And yet, he told us to never stop begging God to give us what we need. Be a strong person, he seems to say. And never stop believing.

Help us pray for you while we on our pilgrimage. Take a moment to ask God for the healing you need.

Kathy McGovern ©2016

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

11 October 2016

Reflecting on Lk. 17: 11-19

How precious are the moments when we realize who really loves us. Most of the time that thrill of recognition comes when the people closest to us do some thoughtful gesture that says, “You are still beloved to me.” But sometimes we get a jolt of kindness from someone who wasn’t even on our radar. Basking in the glow of that surprising warmth, we rush off the thank-you note, or find the phone number and call to say how wonderful we feel because of the unexpected bolt of goodness extended to us.

Naaman, a commander in the Syrian army, got that shock of astonishing love when he finally listened to the prophet Elisha, the famous Israelite to whom he had traveled, hoping for a cure for his leprosy. At first he was arrogant. What? Are you sure I don’t need to swallow some nasty potion, or offer up a herd of cattle? If it was as easy as swimming in the river I could have done that at home. But Elisha prevailed, and when Naaman came up out of the Jordan, healed, he was overcome with astonishment and gratitude.

The Samaritan, one of the ten healed of leprosy by Jesus, felt that same shock of recognition. Oh. He loves me. This Jesus, a man I’ve never met before loves me, a foreigner. Is there any more intimate connection with the divine than to feel love and care—which can only bring healing—from another member of the human race? I think of both of those foreigners today as I read another terrifying story coming out of Aleppo, or of Syrian refugees running for their lives. Oh Jesus, show us how to love.

How will you surprise someone with love today?

Kathy McGovern c. 2016


Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

1 October 2016

Reflecting on Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4

And I thought Oprah Winfrey invented vision boards. Those are collages of pictures and positive statements about the job or car or success you are going to achieve in the future. It turns out that the prophet Habakkuk promoted vision boards way back in the seventh century B.C., and he commanded that the vision be engraved so clearly that “a courier may run with it.” That means that, in the social media of the ancient world, the message would be large enough for people to read while the courier ran from village to village.

There are thousands of courageous people who wrote their visions down and then spent their lives working to see them fulfilled. Bartolomé de las Casas―1484-1566― was a Dominican friar who was appalled at the atrocities committed in the enslavement and genocide of the native peoples of the West Indies. But he didn’t start out that way. He himself was a slave owner. Once he was converted from that sin he suggested bringing slaves from Africa rather than enslaving the Indians. Finally, he was converted from THAT sin and became a fiery opponent of all slavery.

Habakkuk understood that visions of justice take time. In our own lifetimes we are seeing the convulsions of cultures around issues of what constitutes (and should be the punishment for) sexual assault, or the slaughter of legally protected dolphins, or the hunting and killing of elephants for their ivory. Those are just a few of the issues―and they’re not even in my top ten― about which we pray the next generations will say, “Seriously? You really did that?”

So take heart, and be strong. “If the vision delays, wait for it.  It will surely come” (Habakkuk 2:3).

What vision of justice do you spend your life announcing?

Kathy McGovern ©2016