Monthly Archives: July 2017

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

31 July 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 13: 44-52

It’s so interesting to watch the birds in our neighborhood. They appear to be just hanging out, chattering to their friends from the trees, or languidly floating around, making circle eights in the sky. But, all of a sudden, a whole flock of sparrows descends on one little patch of grass, and away they fly, carrying worms and other gems back to their nests.

That’s the thing. If you want the hidden treasure, you have to put yourself in the position to find it. Then there’s the matter of discerning what is truly valuable. Skim milk, sang Gilbert and Sullivan, often masquerades as cream.

If we want something badly enough we are willing to buy a whole field in order to own the treasure we know is hidden there. But great gifts like a loving spouse, faithful friends, nurturing families and great jobs require our devoted attention. We can’t just drop them off somewhere and expect they’ll be there when we return. The greatest treasures require our greatest efforts.

Faith is like that. A grown-up, nurturing faith that goes the distance for a lifetime is the pearl of greatest price, but we have to keep ourselves in the game in order to own it. Like birds circling in for the food they’ve been watching for, human beings also need to hover close to that which truly nourishes.

Catholics today are living in a time of spiritual explosion. There must be twenty great publications, in print or online, that offer insightful reflections on the gospel for each day of the year. Classes and retreats abound. Spiritual directors are available. Are you feeling hungry? Swoop down and get yourself some breakfast.

In what ways are you keeping your faith alive and nourished?

Kathy McGovern ©2017


Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

22 July 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 13: 24-33

What kind of person sneaks into a neighbor’s field and plants weeds? It’s a shocking example of the evil of which humans are capable. My dad told similar stories about the “dairy wars” during the Depression, when rival dairies would follow the delivery carts and place worms in the milk just delivered to the homes of Denver’s wealthy. My grandfather’s dairy lost its account with Molly Brown in just this way.

In the movies it’s easy to see into the hearts of those who do such obviously evil things. The bad guys know they are bad guys, and they tell themselves stories about imagined crimes against them in order to psych themselves up for the bank robbery or the murder for hire.

What kinds of stories do people tell themselves as they are breaking into someone’s home, or stealing the life savings of the elderly? If they were willing to dig deep they’d admit that someone has something they want, and the collateral damage that comes from obtaining it is, well, unfortunate.

They never admit that, of course. Even virtuous people will invent utterly transparent reasons to justify selfishness. If we could see that one truth―that each of us is capable, at times, of behavior that puts us squarely in the “bad guy” column― what grace that would be. Imagine what this world would look like if the humans planting weeds in fields just stopped and said, “Wait. What am I doing?”

We are all working to become, more and more, the fruitful field planted at our baptism. We trust that the Divine Harvester (using Dag Hammarskjold’s image), will keep the grain and, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.

How is the fruitfulness of your life overcoming some past selfishness?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

19 July 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 13: 1-23

Words, words, words. Unlike Eliza Doolittle, I never get sick of words.  I adore them―fat words, skinny words, funny words, and, my favorite, lovely words.

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can always heal us. And, like the rain that falls and never returns to heaven without nourishing the earth, a timely and wise word spoken to a child in the last century is still bearing fruit in this one.

A kind word is like that fecund seed in Jesus’ parable. It just keeps producing harvest after harvest. Here in mid-summer, with crops growing like mad―and the ever-fertile weeds growing right along with them―it’s a holy thing to recall the good words planted in us through the years, and how they have never failed to give us protection and shade in the heat of uglier, unkinder words that have traveled next to them in our hearts throughout our lives.

Here are some words spoken to me at some point that are every bit as delicious to me today as they were decades ago when I first heard them:

Ha! You’re funny.

You’re my best friend.

Tell that story again.

I love you.

Will you marry me?

There are, of course, the painful words, the critical words, but those words that at first hurt like weeds can often behave like fruitful seeds. Such is the mystery of the grace of humility; if we are open to receive it, it can produce great fruit as well.

Are you still simmering over a hurtful word from long ago? Ask God to bring back to your memory the hundreds of fruitful words that have also shaped you. Love wins over weeds.

What are some of the favorite words spoken to you in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

8 July 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 11: 25-30

My measly six-block walk feels like six miles when I do it in the heat of the day, which somehow it always is. I always start out early in the morning, with a very light jacket and a water bottle. Three blocks in and I’ve got the jacket wrapped around my waist, and by the time I’m home the water bottle feels like a ten-pound barbell.

My fantasy is always the same, that my husband will come along on his bike and carry the jacket, the bottle, and, finally, me, over the finish line. Somehow I always make it―tiny workout that it is―but I’ve never once done it without wishing someone would come along and make it easier.

What a heavy load the Jews of Jesus’ day carried. They labored long and hard in the desert sun, and a good portion of what they earned went straight to the Romans. They were also loaded down with the burdens of the Mosaic Law, which, although received in joy centuries before at Mount Sinai, had become impossible to fulfill because of the hundreds of additions and legalities imposed as time went on.

What an enormous relief the gospel was for the disciples, and for all of us who are carrying around too much stuff.  In the heat of the summer it’s best to travel light, and there is nothing lighter than the yoke of forgiveness and unconditional love which Jesus wants to place on our shoulders, while removing the weights of regret and remorse.

Are you heavily burdened and praying for relief? I pray that the Body of Christ is on the way, right around the corner, ready to carry you, and all your stuff, across the finish line.

How do you help carry the burdens of those who are heavily laden?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

1 July 2017

Reflecting on 2 Kings 4: 8-11, 14-16a

Can something be done for her? I love that. Elisha visits this family so often that the “woman of influence” (I love that too) sets up a little room for him up on the roof, with a bed and a table and, I’ll bet, some lovely fruit and bread for the morning.

Elisha, who is well known and, perhaps, a tad entitled to these niceties, sees this kind woman for who she is―gracious, thoughtful, industrious―and wonders if anything can be done for her.

Have you ever been surprised by the kindness of someone who really saw you, really understood the effort you make to keep others comfortable? So much of what we do in life is invisible to everyone but God. That extra attention the engineer gives to building a bridge that is not just adequate, but truly safe, comes to mind. No one sees that triple-checking, but life is better because of it.

I have an oncologist who is so meticulous, so loving in the care he gives his patients that I joke that after he saves my life maybe he could change the oil in my car too. Can something be done for him? I always wonder.

I love the people in this world who see the person struggling with mental illness and say, “Can something be done for her?” In many parishes, a staff position is dedicated to noticing the needs of the homebound, the immigrants, the young families juggling life with a new baby, and asking, “Can something be done for them?”

And what about you? Can something be done for you? God wants to know. We all do.

Have you ever noticed someone, and acted immediately on their behalf?


Kathy McGovern ©2017