Monthly Archives: September 2020

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

26 September 2020

Reflecting on Psalm 119

The fires all over the west have been awful, and those of us who live far from them are still eating ashes with our corn when we dare to have dinner outside. Our eyes burn and our throats hurt. And the flames are hundreds of miles away. Remember your mercies, Lord.

We’re parched for water, but hurricanes are dumping massive, unmanageable tons of it on the already flooded U.S. Gulf Coast. Huge glaciers are melting on both sides of the globe. The oceans are rising, with no end in sight. Remember your mercies, Lord.

Wasn’t it HOT all summer? Record, scorching heat made our house an oven. It’s hard for me to manage the stairs down to our deliciously cool basement, so my sweet husband Ben stayed upstairs with me and rigged up fans and ice packs and all kinds of low-tech schemes to get the temperature down. Remember your mercies, Lord.

My nephew Bryan, after working every short-order cook job in his town on the Western Slope, finally got a prestigious job as a chef at a high-end restaurant. One month later he was exposed to COVID, and is now home for the duration, with a low-grade fever and high-grade anxiety about making the mortgage. Eight million other U.S. restaurant workers know the feeling. Remember your mercies, Lord.

In spite of it all, I still believed that all things would be well. And then the birds started falling from the sky. And now I cling to Psalm 25 like the life raft it has always been. In every age, through every drought and famine and disease, we pray with all who have gone before us: Remember your mercies, Lord.

How are you managing your anxiety during these unsettling times?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

19 September 2020

Reflecting on Isaiah 55: 6-9

For your thoughts are not my thoughts, says the Lord. Boy, you got that straight. The difference between the way humans would behave if they could order the Universe, and the way the actual Master of the Universe behaves, is as vast as, well, the Universe.

For example, if I were God, and had the power to heal and wound, no child would ever suffer from illness. Gladness and joy would overtake them, and sadness and sorrow would flee away.

No enraged husband, or young person suffering from mental illness, would have access to an assault rifle that they then use to murder their wife and kids, or to shoot up a kindergarten class. Instead, they would beat their swords into ploughshares, destroy their weapons, and find help for their extreme rage.

I would send COVID to the gates of hell, and restore all who have been felled by it. I’d restore rivers and oceans to their original pristine beauty. And the new heavens and the new earth would remain before us forever.

Wars, and those who start them, would be gone forever. Good health, and the peace that brings the opportunity for people to grow old, would reign. Old men and old women would inhabit the streets, and children would play in the cities there.

Yes, If I were God, kindness and truth would meet. Justice and peace would kiss.

But hey, that’s just me. Oh, wait. That’s not me at all. That’s God, whose voice is so beautiful that we can hear it today as clearly as the day it was written down.

The task, it turns out, is to make God’s thoughts our thoughts.

During this Season of Creation, how are you working to build a new heaven and earth?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

12 September 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 18: 21-35

I recently re-visited The Forgiveness Book by Alice Camille and Paul Boudreau. Published in 2008, it remains the most beautiful book on forgiveness I’ve ever read. And it nudges me to ask some questions about how things got so out of hand with the master and his servant in this parable.

How on earth did that servant rack up a debt of what would be a billion dollars today? And how did the master let the debt get that high in the first place? Well, since the Master is God, and the servant is us, the answer is easy.  Thousands of years of greed, of using the earth as our personal slave, and the willful turning away from the Golden Rule have created our unfathomable debt.

Now, the other guy in the parable owed the servant the equivalent of a quarter of a year’s income. That’s a figure we can visualize. That represents a loss of three months’ rent, utilities, car insurance, groceries, and Netflix. That hurts. That’s money we want to get back, and we can get pretty aggressive in hounding the one who owes it until we finally recover it, usually in nickels and dimes.

The first servant, the one with the huge debt, was a sinner. Yes, our hearts break when he and his wife and children are sold as repayment of that debt, but wouldn’t they have to be sold thousands of times in order to get close to what he owed? See, that’s us. There’s nothing we can do to repay God for our purposely hardened hearts. Unless, maybe, we start softening them through the redemptive acts of forgiving the smaller debts owed to us.

When was the last time you forgave someone? Did you feel your heart softening as you did?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

12 September 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 18: 15-20

Let’s be honest. Sometimes one person—-our boss, maybe—will come to us in private and try to correct us in a chronic behavior we have that is making the workplace difficult, or making it harder for our peers to complete their work successfully. We might nod courageously and agree that, gosh, now that this has been pointed out we are going to be ever so much better.

But I don’t think we actually believe that we are the problem. Even as the boss is talking, we’re shutting her out. And when our behavior doesn’t change, and she brings a few co-workers to tell us that they, too, have the same problem with us, we are astounded—silently—that these people whom we thought were so smart have turned out to be as clueless as the boss. Don’t they see how nuanced we are, how creative we are, and, well, how much smarter we are than they?

That’s the problem with following Jesus’ exhortation about resolving conflicts. If we were spiritually disciplined enough to take correction and change our behavior, chances are we wouldn’t have that problem to begin with. A whole army of friends could stage an intervention, and we’d roll our eyes and stalk away. Time to get some new friends.

My new rule is that if I ever feel ganged up on, or bewildered about why friends seem to fade away, I immediately do the most counter-intuitive thing. I assume that I am causing the problem. I may not see it today, but tomorrow will be so much easier if I take responsibility now for what I may not clearly see for another ten years.

When have you adjusted your behavior based on the correction of others?

Kathy McGovern ©2020