Monthly Archives: July 2022

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

30 July 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 12: 13-21

I wonder about these two readings, the one from Ecclesiastes and the gospel, all the time. They make me uncomfortable, which is always a sign that I’m supposed to pay attention.

I recently learned that the sum of a person’s belongings in Jesus’ day could fit on top of a small table. That’s just mind-boggling. The ancients are so different from us. But the thing is, our mass accumulation of stuff is a fairly recent phenomena. Who of us had more than two pairs of shoes, or one coat, or two pencils in our pencil bag, when we were growing up?

My brother used to recall, with astonishment, that in our neighborhood of thirty kids, there was exactly one football, and it went home with the “rich kid” who owned it every night. He stayed on good terms with him, of course, or he couldn’t play football in the alley.

But still, the root of all my problems as a young child was managing my stuff. My crayons were never in my crayon vest. My homework was always falling out of the folder. The bus driver was always mad at me, racing for the bus, as my books and papers flew all over the sidewalk because I couldn’t manage it all.

If you have room for more stuff, you’ll get more stuff. And I know, absolutely, that managing my stuff has been the root of much unhappiness throughout my life.

And yes, on the day of my death someone will be there to ask, “Who will get her stuff now?”

I long for a focused, uncluttered life. The rest of it is just Vanity, and a chase against the wind.

How are you doing in the lifelong struggle to manage your stuff?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

23 July 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 11: 1-13

That bargaining that Abraham engages in with God is literature’s great example of how not to pray. Through praising and groveling—the accepted posture of servants asking something of their king—Abraham finally gets this rigid warlord to agree to cease and desist from destroying Sodom and Gomorrah if ten good men can be found in the city.

Jesus has a different view of prayer. Ask, he says. Seek, he says. Knock, he says. Jesus, in his great intimacy with the Father, knows that God wants to give us what we need. Notice that Jesus, in the Garden, begged God that the cup be taken from him. But he did not grovel, nor flatter, nor try to bargain for his life. He knew that God would give what was in God’s will to give.

We don’t realize it, probably, but when we pray we are asking that the Holy Spirit be given to us. Read St. Paul: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

As Tanya Marlow wrote in Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt, and Delay, “The first job of the Holy Spirit is to groan with us. Our tears are sacred prayers. This is where God is, echoing our desperation for the world to be made whole.”

Ah. So this is why Jesus promises that God will always give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. We can’t seek, or knock, or ask, if the Holy Spirit isn’t groaning with us. Come, Holy Spirit. Groan. And take our sacred tears to heaven.

In what ways do you feel the Holy Spirit interceding with groanings as you pray?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

16 July 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 10: 38-42

My husband Ben just came in from the garage, grinning. “Well, that was harder than I thought, but it’s all ready to go.” Our housemate had asked him for help with her car, and he spent the morning changing the oil and the air filter. He is never more content than when doing something mechanical, or something that requires physical strength, for someone else. He’s a Martha.

Except that, now, showered and relaxed, he’s back in his chair, reading his book on Saints in Church History. We won’t see him for the rest of the day. He’s a Mary, for sure.

We all are both, aren’t we? We love to serve. Thank God for the Marthas who make every event—a funeral, a wedding, a baptism—so comfortable for the rest of us. They make delicious and nourishing food magically appear, and then just as mysteriously disappear when we are finished. Parish life as we experience it would disappear without them.

Those same Marthas, though, are the ones in the front row for any scripture classes. When there’s an opportunity to be Mary, they’re the first ones there.

I have a priest-friend who shared this about the whole Martha/Mary pendulum. After giving a talk at a parish retreat, he would help gather the dishes, and stay in the kitchen washing them up as people were leaving.

When he was praised for this service he wished he could tell the truth: Do you know what a relief it is to have some quiet, after talking all day? I’m an introvert, and I’m exhausted. Please give me some dishes to wash.

He’s a Mary-Martha. I’ll bet you are too.

What service do you render, cheerfully, to help strengthen your parish?

Kathy McGovern©2022

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

9 July 2022

Reflecting on Luke 10:25-37

We learn a lot about Jesus in this parable. We learn that he knew how dangerous that road to Jericho was. He was about to go down there himself in a few weeks (Luke 29). We learn of his disgust that the Mosaic Law had more weight than a man dying on the road. The priest and the Levite could afford to leave the wounded man on the road because they knew their religious titles got them out of touching a dead body, and the poor man was so terribly wounded they must have assumed he was dead.

I suspect it was Jesus’ open disgust with the rigid way the Law was observed by the religious elite that probably got him killed (chapters 22, 23).

We learn that Jesus knew that the best way to show the irony of the “religious” was to compare them with the loathsome Samaritan, a half-breed Jew who would never be admitted to any decent table. Certainly even the wounded man himself would never have let an unclean Samaritan touch him, but fortunately he was unconscious at the time.

But mostly we learn what Jesus thinks about the way to care for someone. You touch them, you bind their wounds, you put them on your own donkey and carry them to the nearest inn. You make sure they’re comfortable, and pay their bill.

I’ve had friends like this. Caring for those who can’t care for themselves means you go the extra mile, over and over. I love that Jesus knows this. In fact, I think I may have recognized him in many of the friends I’ve had in my life. It was Him all along.

In what ways have people gone the extra mile for you?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

2 July 2022

Reflecting on Luke 10: 1-9

Is there anyone you know who has remained a joyful, committed Catholic throughout their lives because they are terrified of hell? I don’t.

Some sociologists note an “axial moment” in the lives of believers. The first stage, represented in many Old Testament texts, and a few New Testament (like today’s gospel) is this: an angry, vengeful God is out to get me, and my whole life must be in service to keeping this scary God happy.

But look how the axis turns in that stunning Isaiah text: “Oh, that you may suck fully  of the milk of her comfort,  that you may nurse with delight  at her abundant breasts!” (66:11) This is another image of God the sacred scriptures give us: God wants to be like your mom. God wants to be your comforter, your nurturer. Draw near to this God.

And, of course, we have drawn near, and taken huge comfort in the God who loves us personally, who knows our name, who is with us to the end of time.

We are now in the third axial age. We respect and take great notice of the scriptures that warn us of hell. We will not be like those who have the gospel preached to them but turn away. We dread a judgment worse than what happened to Sodom. But we have also internalized, and utterly believed, that God loves us like a mother loves her child. And now we take that joy into the world, remembering Teresa of Àvila:

Christ has no body on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world.

In what ways does the image of God as a nurturer and comforter strengthen your faith?

Kathy McGovern ©2022