Monthly Archives: September 2019

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

28 September 2019

Reflecting on Luke 16: 19-31

Here it is again, that marvelous story Jesus tells of Dives—which means “rich man,” and is a made-up name for the guy Jesus purposely wanted to keep nameless—and Lazarus, whom Jesus names many times in his story, just in case we missed the point that he who was ignored in life goes into heaven with his name preserved for eternal memory.

Speaking of names, don’t miss this: Dives ignored Lazarus, even as he begged right outside his door in the most desperate of circumstances. But once Dives was in eternal torment, he all of sudden remembered the name of that beggar whom I’ll bet he didn’t call by name a single time in life.

That really gives the lie to what we often say about those who are poor: I don’t know them, and I can’t help those I don’t know. I’ll bet Dives made that same excuse, but it turns out he DID know his name all along. Lazarus was so familiar to him, in fact, that he took his name into hell and tried to use it to get himself out.

Talk about privilege. Dives was in hell, for heaven’s sake, and he still thought he could snap his fingers and make  Lazarus—comforted forever in the very bosom of Abraham—his errand boy.

The thing is, Dives made his own destiny of torment. He built it, day by day, through his willful ignorance and malignant neglect of the man dying at his door.

How are you building your destiny? First Timothy exhorts us to “compete well in the faith.” Okay, I’m putting on patience, gentleness and faith. See you at the finish line. Game on.

How are you competing for the destiny of life on high with Christ Jesus?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

21 September 2019

Reflecting on Luke 16:1-13

For many years in the last decade it was my privilege to accompany a young lady through her childhood, high school and college years. Zeenat is the ultimate, inspiring example of the child who, in the words of my brother Marty, “will be president someday if someone will just pay attention to her.”

I think of her today as I read about that savvy steward who knew how to use money and resources (especially those belonging not to him but to his Master!) in order to save himself from ruin. Watching those who love Zeenat use the system stacked against her in order to get her an education, a safe home life, good nutrition, and support and growth for her deep religious faith was a Master Class in ingenuity.

I learned, during those years, a valuable lesson in the right use of wealth. Those who are poor need the resources of those who are prosperous, and they who use their lives and expertise in getting help to those who need it are the heroes of this world.

A whole army of teachers, social workers, and Catholic support groups made Zeenat’s success their #1 project. Using their minimal financial resources (but savvy connections with those in better positions to help), these First Responders acquired for her, while her brothers floundered and dropped out, a great education all the way through college. They found her safe homes to live in, and watched in awe as her own genius led her up and out of poverty.

Today she works in the financial district of Los Angeles. And her brothers? She paid it all forward, and pulled them up and out of poverty too.

What creative ways have you found to help bring justice and help to yourself and others?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C

14 September 2019

Reflecting on Luke 15: 1-32

Even though we live in a religious country with a strong religious heritage, the very core of religious faith―that a loving God actually exists and actually longs for communion with us―seems to elude us.  

And so we’ve come around again to the great Lukan parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son.  (This only happens in Year C, where we heard the story on the Fourth Sunday of Lent and again today.)  What will it take for us to really hear that the Hound of Heaven will chase us through the alleyways of our lives in order to catch us and look us in the eye and say, as the father says to his pouting, elder son, but didn’t you know that everything I have is yours?

So let’s let Francis Thompson, tortured opium addict and believer in God’s mercy, remind us once again:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from Him….

I wonder.  Do you suppose that Lost Sheep was watching in the canyons to see if the shepherd would really leave everything to find her?  How delicious that must have felt, to hear him calling for her, and hear the relief in his voice when she stepped from her hiding place and he wrapped her up in his arms and carried her home.

Hey, do you know someone who’s ready to be found?  It’s not easy to step out of the dark canyon.  It takes a lot of humility to admit that we are loved that much.

Do you recall a time of being “found”?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

7 September 2019

Reflecting on Philemon 9-10, 12-17

We just passed a devastating anniversary. On August 20, 1619, the first African slave ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia. Four hundred years ago, the ancient commerce of slavery brought its demonic practices of brutal abduction, starvation, and torture to our shores. Human beings were purchased in exchange for food, and 250 years of slavery commenced.

I think of those terrified human beings as I read Philemon today. By now we all know what a masterpiece of persuasion was Paul’s letter to this first-century slave master. Onesimus, the runaway slave who had become a Christian and a beloved helper to Paul, was, by law, owned by Philemon and was effectively stealing from him by staying away. Paul knew that, if Onesimus complied with the law and returned, he could have a leg cut off in order to discourage him from further flight. Paul understood that Philemon would need to be “managed.” He would not give up his right to revenge easily.

So Paul wrote his charming letter to the “owner” of Onesimus, reminding him that, in Christ, there is no slave nor free. We assume that Onesimus returned to his Christian master with no loss of limbs. And yet, in other places of the New Testament, slaves were told to obey their masters, and masters how to manage slaves (Eph. 6:5-11; Col. 3:22-4:1). Just when we thought the scriptures could be wrestled free of their cultural conditions, they shape-shift again.

The practice of slavery is as old as the human race. As long as there is work to be done, humans have been enslaved to do it. Most horrific is to remember—and we must—what devout Christians so many of the slave-holders were.

In what ways is the sin of slavery still abounding in the world?

Kathy McGovern ©2019