Monthly Archives: February 2020

First Sunday of Lent – Cycle A

29 February 2020

Reflecting on Genesis 2: 7-9, 3:1-7

It’s all about how much we’re willing to lie to ourselves. That’s really what that sad story of the Fall of Adam and Eve is about. The Prince of Lies sends out his first trial balloon. Hey, did God really say  you couldn’t eat any of the fruit of the garden? Oops, he overshot that one. Eve is already correcting him with the truth,  Oh no, we can have all the fruit except from the tree in the middle of the garden.

Okay, he’ll have to go straight to his BIG LIE. You poor thing! God is deceiving you. God knows that as soon as you eat of that fruit you’ll be as smart as the gods and you’ll know the difference between good and evil.

And there you have it. They knew all along that they were being played. God was holding out on them. They certainly are too smart to let God keep them in the dark like this. They grab the fruit and gobble it down.

And here’s the thing. Now they know the difference between good and evil, because now there IS a difference. Before they were lured into lying to themselves, only good surrounded them. You certainly won’t die if you eat the fruit! whispered the Prince of Death. The thing is, there WAS no death before they ate the fruit. It was in the moment of their profound lying to themselves that death entered the world.

We lie to ourselves a lot, and the result is that we are sick and sad. But Jesus saved us from ourselves. All the shiny objects of this world can’t lure us, because we know whose we truly are.

What are the lies you keep telling yourself?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

23 February 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 5:38-48

Of all the examples Jesus gives of nonviolent  resistance—turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile—it’s that business of the tunic that’s hardest, especially in bleak mid-winter.

Jesus says, “If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.” Try this. Imagine that you need milk and cereal for your kids, but you’re several dollars short at Walmart. The owner says, “Well, it’s snowing and it’s freezing. Give me your parka as collateral.”

Your kids are hungry, so you leave the store with your groceries and go stand at the bus stop with just a sweater to warm you. That parka is your only coat, so when the sun goes down it’s too bitterly cold to go back to the store to deliver the few dollars. In the morning, the police arrive to take you to jail because you haven’t paid for the groceries yet.

Now you’re in front of the judge, shivering in your thin sweater. “Here,” you say, taking off the only protective garment you own. “Since having my parka is so important to the owner, give him my sweater as well.”

It’s all about mercy. We are never to cast such a burden upon people that their most basic needs can’t be met. Hence the scripture, “If you take  your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset, for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body” (Exodus 22:26-27).

Use your wits, Jesus says. If your situation puts you in a position of servitude to a Financial Giant, find a way to make him look very small indeed.

How are you helping those without a coat this winter?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

23 February 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 5:17-37

Wouldn’t Jesus, the Master Teacher, have fun shredding some of our favorite cultural proverbs? I can just imagine the scene:

You have heard it said, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but I say to you, “All that is hidden shall be made clear. All that is dark now shall be revealed” (Luke 8:17).

You have heard it said, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but I say to you, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven…where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6: 19-21).

You have heard it said, “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” but I say to you, “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people” (Leviticus 19:17).

You have heard it said, “Look out for Number One, because nobody else will” but I say to you, “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10).

You have heard it said, “Life’s terrible, and then you die,” but I say to you, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:3-5).

You have heard it said that the bible says, “God helps those who help themselves,” but I say to you, “No, that’s Aesop’s Fables, not the bible. Go and find the Samaritan Woman at the Well, or the Man Born Blind, or Lazarus in the tomb. They will tell you that God helps those who cannot help themselves.”

Ah, so true. Thanks, Jesus.

What family proverbs do you have that Jesus could easily overturn?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

8 February 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 5: 13-16

Jesus invited his disciples to be Real Salt, and Real Light, and by accounts we have of the earliest Christians, they really were. The second century theologian Tertullian imagined the pagans observing the behavior of the Christians and saying, “See how they love one another!”

Our parish is hosting an eye-opening class on Racial Equity. I realize, to my shock, that the places where I thought I was bringing salt—like taking a Spanish class in order to know a tiny bit about the parishioners in my heavily Hispanic parish years ago—were the same places I was rubbing salt in old wounds—like nominating myself to proclaim the Spanish-language reading, poorly, instead of yielding it to the actual Spanish speakers in the parish. Shivers.

I learned in class about an African-American employer who asked a young, white male applying for a job if he noticed her color. He gave the same answer I imagine myself giving, “Not at all. I don’t see color.” The interviewer helped him understand that it’s okay, it’s honest, really, to say something like, “Of course I see your color. If I didn’t I wouldn’t see you.”

Why was he afraid to give that answer? Perhaps he was wrestling with an unconscious assumption that seeing color means seeing someone who is “less than,” and he doesn’t see her that way. And that goes in both directions. When people of all ethnic backgrounds insist they don’t “see color,” might they also be really saying, “I don’t see you with the damaged worldview that I might have unconsciously received from the culture”?

Real salt. Real light. Jesus challenges us to bring Real Peace by sweeping out the dusty corners of our own hearts.

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – Cycle A

3 February 2020

Reflecting on Luke 2: 22-40

Don’t we all love this story? And we only hear it in the odd year when the February 2nd Feast of the Presentation falls on a Sunday, and thus pre-empts the usual Sunday in Ordinary Time. The last time we heard it was in 2014.

It’s the concluding story in Luke’s gorgeous narrative of Jesus as an infant. His parents, observant Jews, traveled from Bethlehem to Jerusalem so that he could be “dedicated,” or “presented,” at the Temple. This ritual also called for the purification of the mother, which of course Our Lady did not need, but I’ll bet she went along with, as Jesus did his baptism.

We live this life in grateful service to God, but eternity has a foothold in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Simeon and Anna waited, decade after decade, for the salvation of Israel. When Joseph and Mary walked into the Temple that day with the Baby Jesus, the Holy Spirit led them both to perceive that their life’s waiting was finally over.

All of us have this deep intuition, or maybe memory, that we are made for heaven. But it’s the timing of when we die, and how we die, that we wish we could direct. Anna and Simeon knew that the purpose of their lives had been fulfilled. But is that when most of us die? So often that seems impossible, especially in the deaths of children and young parents. On the other hand, the elderly sick, languishing for years, may beg God for death, and live and live.

Today’s gospel assures us that Jesus holds our future. Clinging to him in life is the surest way to recognize him at our death.

What are you hoping to achieve in your life before you see heaven?

Kathy McGovern ©2020