Monthly Archives: September 2017

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

29 September 2017

Reflecting on Matt. 20: 1-16a

Don’t give any more thought to those laborers who worked all day.  We get them. We understand them. We ARE them. God is just.

Instead, imagine yourself as one of the latecomers. You sleep late. You binge-watch Game of Thrones and order in pizza. Around 3pm you take a shower, and show up for work around 4:30 pm.  Let’s up the ante here and say that it is the MOST dreaded day at the office, the MOST stressful day, the one that truly requires all hands on deck. That’s the day you choose to show up at the end of the day for your rigorous one hour of work.

Sheesh! Here comes the boss.  Let’s call her Sue. Sue thanks everyone for their hard work on this tough day. She passes out the bonuses. You hang your head. Now that you’re up and at ‘em you wish you’d made it to work for the whole day. The camaraderie of your team is high, and you missed it. They’re laughing about some memories of the day, and you’ll never be part of that either. Here comes your paltry bonus, probably the same $2 coupon for lawn aerating that you found on your screen door yesterday.

WHAT?? A ten-day trip on a luxury cruise liner to Hawaii!! With your name on it! And a warm note of thanks for your hard one-hour work day.

No one in your entire life has ever showered so much undeserved kindness on you. Your whole body shivers with gratitude, with the unquestionable awareness of God’s fierce love for you.

We’ve all had that experience. We know that feeling. We ARE the latecomer. God is merciful. AMEN.

What experience of undeserved kindness has happened in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

16 September 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 18: 21-35

Parents have the inside track on this story of the debtor who won’t forgive his own debtor. How many millions of times have moms and dads forgiven their child by the time she graduates from high school, because love compels them to understand her and give her another chance? But let them miss a soccer game and she can’t seem to forgive them for decades. That’s the crazy math of parents and kids, which, of course, comes full circle when the kids have kids themselves. And it’s about the same crazy math as the one in this gospel.

The king’s debtor owes him ten thousand talents, which is the equivalent of 6 billion dollars today. And the debtor’s debtor owes him one millionth of that―whatever that is. You’ll have to do the math, I can’t, but whatever that is, he won’t forgive it and he sends his debtor to prison. Grr.

A friend shared this story with me decades ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. Her son and daughter, always best friends, had for some reason fallen out and hadn’t spoken in a month. Whatever it was her son did, her daughter announced that she would never forgive him because he lied to her. My friend’s answer was priceless:

Seriously? I’ve been lied to by every member of this family at some point over the years, and I’m still here, making dinner and driving car pool. I’ve forgiven you and your brother at least a thousand times. Am I the only one around here who knows how to forgive?

What a metaphor for the love of God, whose mercy is new every morning. Forgive someone today. Make your mom proud.

In what ways are you aware of having been forgiven by others?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

13 September 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 18: 15-20

The whole idea is just icky, isn’t it? If I’m hurt that my friend had coffee with our mutual friend and didn’t include me, I’m supposed to go to her and say, like a big baby, “You hurt my feelings”? I’d rather do almost anything else.

In fact, I WILL do anything else. I’ll be distant and aloof next time I see her. And, yeah, I’ll probably say something to a third friend along the lines of, “Some friends are less loyal than others.” Then I’ll just have to tell her how my friend invited me for coffee and then canceled and then went with the other friend instead.

See what just happened there? A tiny, perfectly understandable get-together between two friends became an occasion of pain for―let’s just say it―an overly sensitive third friend, who then escalated things by setting up an emotionally confusing distance and, finally, telling an out-and-out lie about the original offense.

Has anyone ever actually tried doing what the gospel requires when it comes to conflict between friends? Imagine this: I go to my friend and say, “I can’t believe that at my age I can still feel jealous about these things, but I felt hurt when you got together with ___ and didn’t include me.” Then she will probably say, “No! Really? I feel horrible. I hadn’t seen ___since her dad’s death and I wanted to have a chance to reconnect. I love spending time with you. Can we schedule something?”

I’ll bet you anything that a conversation that starts out feeling icky ends up feeling lovely. And nobody ended up in court or anything. Let’s all remember this scenario as the family holidays approach.

Have you ever peacefully approached a friend about something you felt “icky” about?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

2 September 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 16: 21-27

I remember exactly where I was the day I realized that those who give their lives in service of the gospel do not live in a magic bubble of security (like Peter may have imagined that Jesus did). I was standing on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, within the magnetic field of the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus, talking to my brilliant mentor Barbara Budde (now the director of the Office of Social Concerns for the diocese of Austin, Tx).

Looking back, I can’t believe that I was still holding out hope that bad things would never happen to good people. Somehow I had visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, and never fully grasped that evil can touch the most innocent of people. But when the four North American churchwomen were raped and murdered in El Salvador on December 2, 1980, the last nail was driven into the coffin of my wishful thinking.

“These women stood with the poorest of the poor,” I said. Her answer still chills me: “And they were horribly murdered for it.”

I suspect that Peter was starting to come out of his magical thinking too. Herod had killed John the Baptist, and now Jesus was prophesying his own torture and death. But Jesus was the Son of God! Wouldn’t that give him certain amnesty from the cross?

Poor Peter. He would see his Lord crucified. But he would also see him raised! So much happened in Peter’s heart between that day and the one, thirty years later, when he himself was stretched upside down on Nero’s cross.

In what ways does Peter’s courageous martyrdom strengthen you?

Kathy McGovern ©2017