Monthly Archives: August 2022

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

27 August 2022

Reflecting on Luke 14: 1, 7-14

“You-mill-ee-tay,” Queen Guinevere jousts with the arrogant Lancelot, using the French pronunciation of humility. Lancelot brags that he is the purest and most honorable of all knights. Guinevere rolls her eyes, astonished that he doesn’t see the glaring chink in his armor, his appalling lack of humility. (We won’t concern ourselves with where the rest of that story goes.)

The deeply humble person is, ironically, the favorite person in any room. I know many of them. These are the people who have accomplished that hardest of tasks, the ability to hear criticism, and then use it to mold their better selves. It takes such humility to accept criticism.

Sometimes I wonder if my humble friends just don’t know how brilliant, how kind, how lovable they are. Of course they do. Humility isn’t about not loving yourself, not giving yourself credit. It’s about loving and respecting everyone else, too.

That’s what makes them so attractive, of course. They are genuinely interested in, delighted in, every person. They have that God’s-eye view of the human race. It’s as if they are excited to learn what it is that God sees in each of us.

I remember a music composition teacher I had in college. He would transform our little compositions into these beautiful pieces, wholly by his own terrific piano skills. Then he would praise us and tell us how well we had done. And somehow we believed him! That’s the humble person, the one who points to the other. You never forget, as Maya Angelou might say, the way a humble person makes you feel.

God is found, the psalmist tells us, through a humble and contrite heart. O God, help us find you.

What professional or spiritual disciplines have formed you in humility?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

20 August 2022

Reflecting on Luke 13: 22-30

What tempo are you most comfortable with these days? Do you purr along at a steady, fast pace, or do you tend to run a bit slow and easy? AARGH, people say, that hymn was SO SLOW. And I admit that I sometimes think, during congregational singing,  YIKES! WHERE’S THE FIRE? CAN’T WE SLOW THIS DOWN A LITTLE?

Music will give you guidelines, like prestissimo (super-fast), or largo (very slow). But one tempo marking is kind of charming: tempo justo (the right tempo). This is the tempo closest to the rhythm of a beating heart. You know, like singing the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” while administering chest compressions—it’s thought that keeping that song in your head will give you the closest thing to the rhythm of a beating heart.

We read today’s apocalyptic gospel and wonder, “Will I be left outside while everyone else is enjoying eternal bliss? Will I spend a lifetime enjoying the privileges of being first, only to be tossed to the back of the line when it really counts?” I think the answer lies in what tempo we’re taking our lives.

I don’t mean to say that we hurry too much, or hold back too much. I mean that there is a certain rhythm to being a human being, a certain reflection, a certain expansive graciousness, that finds itself beating at the same tempo as God’s heart. That, of course, is the right tempo, the tempo of the heavenly orchestra.

Tempo justo is, for example, the corporal works of mercy. That’s the music of heaven, the music of those reclining at table in the kingdom. I hope the Bee Gees are conducting.

In what ways do you feel a bit out of sync with the right tempo of your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

13 August 2022

Reflecting on Luke 12: 49-53

I used to love learning about the North American martyrs. These are the six Jesuit priests, and two lay brothers, who were martyred, three in New York and five in Canada, by the very tribes they came to serve. This happened between 1642-1649.

I’ve visited their shrines many times. The last time I was there, standing near the Stations of the Cross in Midland, Ontario, an indigenous woman in full Indian dress and headgear began playing Indian music from speakers she brought to the Shrine. She sang loudly, and mournfully, and carried a sign begging visitors to learn more about the terrible atrocities visited on the Iroquois, Huron, and Mohawk tribes later in history.

In those days I was ignorant of the sad legacy of the Canadian residential schools, often run by the same Jesuits who were martyred by the Indians centuries earlier. But, as more mass graves of Indian children are unearthed, it’s impossible not to know that the evangelical zeal of many religious orders placed them on the wrong side of history.

Facing the truth, and speaking it, is excruciating. Pope Francis, a Jesuit of course, traveled to Canada, spoke the terrible truth, and now we all must know it.

Misguided, and, certainly at times, cruel treatment of Indian children and their families in order to “make them white” left a path of broken families and despair, the legacy of which is still unraveling.

When truth is told it sets a fire to the earth. It divides families. It either matures us, or causes us to cling tighter to the sureties of our younger selves. Peace on earth comes only with truth. Let us be brave.

What truth in my family needs, finally, to come to light?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

6 August 2022

Reflecting on Luke 12: 32-48

If you’re one of those people who love to be scared, who love ghost stories and haunted houses and movies about people waiting in corners with hatchets, have I got some great reading for you. It’s called the Business Section.

There you can read, until weak with terror, about the money you were supposed to have saved, the real estate you should have bought, about how you certainly should have several years of “liquidity” built up for the inevitable rainy day when all the bad decisions you’ve made come home to roost.

Recall Fagan, in the movie version of Oliver Twist, sneaking upstairs to his safe, oh-so-quietly taking out his treasures, and lovingly petting his stolen jewels from a lifetime of picking a pocket or two. He’s old now, and this is his security. This is all that stands between him and the beggar’s prison. Charles Dickens, magnificent Christian and the conscience of 19th century England, shone a light on the social injustice of his times. And when he wrote a book for his children about Jesus he used the gospel of Luke―today’s gospel, in fact― as his template.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be. I know many wealthy people. They have amassed huge treasures, whose names are Care for those who have no one, Friendship with those most in need of God’s mercy, and Faithfulness to their spouses and their children, in good times and in bad.

This is what I observe about those who have built up “money bags that won’t wear out:” they are all surrounded by people who love them. That’s a treasure not even Fagan can steal.

How are you building an “inexhaustible treasure in heaven”?

Kathy McGovern ©2022