Monthly Archives: October 2017

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

24 October 2017

Reflecting on Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6

Have you ever had a conversation with someone you thought you knew, discovered you didn’t know them at all, and ended up becoming good friends? Have you ever walked into the wrong classroom and ended up signing up for that class instead of the one you originally intended?

There are stories to go with each of these situations. They are true accounts of life-changing “accidents,” shared with me by students through the years. King Cyrus of Persia, circa 538 B.C., could relate.

Here’s a guy who knew nothing about the Jews or their extraordinary history. He had just smashed the great Babylonian army and driven out their kings. This world conqueror did a quick census of the population of the land he had just taken over and saw that he had a large number of Jewish communities that had been marched out of Judah during the terrifying siege of King Nebuchadnezzar fifty years earlier.

Almost as an afterthought he said to them, “Go home now. Take all the treasures which were stolen from your Temple when Nebuchadnezzar came through. Rebuild your lives and your Temple. And pray for the Royal Family and for me.”

That’s how this Gentile king came to be called “God’s anointed” by the prophet Isaiah. He accidentally stumbled into salvation history and changed it forever. How could he know he was sending God’s Chosen People back to rebuild a land that would, in time, be the home of Jesus of Nazareth?

How, indeed, can you know that God is working through you to bring good? Invite God to use you as a vessel. Then prepare to take your place in history next to the Great King Cyrus.

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

14 October 2017

Reflecting on Phil. 4: 12-14, 19-20

It sounds so simple when St Paul says it: I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.  True, most of us lived much more simply when we were younger. Most of us have adapted to roomier houses and better air conditioning, maybe even marveling at how many of us, in our childhood, lived in one house with just one bathroom.

In fact, I’m amazed at how well today’s first-year college students adapt to their tiny dorm rooms, especially after growing up with a room of their own, a stocked ‘frig, and their own car. What makes the relative austerity of dorm life fun, of course, is the proximity to friends at all hours, and being on one’s own for the first time.

But could you do it again? St. Paul says he could. He says that he’s comfortable in all circumstances, whether he’s hot or cold, hungry or full, in a cozy room or out on the street. What makes it bearable (maybe even fun?) for him is to watch God’s grace at work in all circumstances.

This is the “secret” that he’s learned. It’s that powerful verse that is the favorite scripture text for so many: I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). Have you memorized this, put it on your mirror, made a bumper sticker out of it? If you haven’t made this verse your own yet, try it on and see if it fits. (It won’t come around in the readings for another three years, so today’s the day to set this scripture in your heart.)

What particular challenge is Christ strengthening in you right now?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

 

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

13 October 2017

Reflecting on Phil. 4: 6-9

What a beautiful letter. Imagine living in Philippi around 54 AD. Situated just ten miles inland of the Aegean Sea, yours is a proud city, named after Philip of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great). The Roman military is very visible, very much a part of daily life here. But you are a Christian, a believer in “the Way,” baptized by Paul when he visited years earlier.

In fact, Philippi was the very first European city evangelized by Paul, and he loves your community deeply. In this letter he calls you “his joy and his crown,” and says you are the community he will boast about when he is in heaven with Jesus (2:16). He has remained in contact through the years, and now, writing in chains from Ephesus, he has sent this love letter.

You especially reflect on the last few sentences, his usual warm closing. He exhorts you, in the confusion of the contradictory preaching of other Christians who have recently visited from Jerusalem, to always go back to this formula when seeking the truth.

Is it true? Check. Is it honorable? Yes. Is it just? Always. Is it pure? Beautifully so. Is it lovely? Your heart is lifted as you think about it. Is it gracious? The behavior of your fellow Christians fills you with pride. If it is excellent―absolutely! ―and worthy of praise―forever and ever! ―then think on these things. When you’re trying to sort out truth from the lies of the culture, use this as your testing ground.

And, oh yes, keep on doing what Paul told you to do. That’s it. That’s the message. Already you feel the God of peace filling you.

Using this check list, how are you doing?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

1 October 2017

Reflecting on Matt. 21: 28-32

Scarier to me than the people who say, “Yes, I’ll do what God asks me” and then don’t, are the ones who are unloving because they believe this is what God asks of them.  I grieve for the parents who, caught in the initial shock wave of the eighties Aids epidemic, did not support their dying children as they certainly would today. They didn’t know what to do, and they thought that God required them to do nothing. How they must long for the chance again to love their sons as they wanted to love them then.

I’m afraid of those who know God’s will so clearly that they fly airplanes into buildings because this, clearly, is what God is asking. When personal agendas get confused with the Divine Will, terror always ensues.

My friend Dan Pierce, beautiful tenor and composer, was a missionary with the wonderful and effective evangelical group Youth with a Mission. Their work was sometimes dangerous, as when they went to Russia in the 60s and successfully smuggled bibles into Red Square. Today they are present all over the globe, gently and creatively bringing people to Christ.

I asked him once what he thought was the most effective outreach for drawing people to Jesus, and his response was immediate: “Radical love. Just embrace people, not just those you want to evangelize, but everyone in your life, with radical love.”

And the least effective approach? “You see it all the time in the missions. Unloving language and behavior.  Military-style adherence to rules.  Modeling separateness instead of inclusion. The world is full of people rushing to do God’s will. And God is right behind them, trying to stop them.”

What parts of your life are definitely in harmony with God’s will?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015