Monthly Archives: September 2022

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

24 September 2022

Reflecting on Luke 16:19-31

That poor rich man. Not only could he, in his torment,  not get a drop of water from “the other side,” but he couldn’t order Lazarus—now an eternity away from his malicious neglect—to get a warning to his brothers. The same goes for those complacent ones in Amos’ day, eating their rich foods, whiling away the hours on their beds, but not “made ill by the collapse of Joseph.”

The two stories are really telling the same story. Amos was well aware that the gradual weakening of the kingdom of Israel occurred in concert with its attempts to cooperate with Assyria, their terrifying neighbor. Exactly as he prophesied, a full fifty percent of the inhabitants of Israel were either killed, or taken into exile, by the Assyrians in 722BC.

In Jesus’ parable seven centuries later,  every day that the rich man ignored Lazarus, dying at his gate, only brought him (and his brothers) closer to their day of reckoning, and the great chasm that would forever keep them from ever knowing happiness again.

It’s all about warnings. We appreciate the Amber Alerts, and even the apps that let us know there are police scanners ahead. But it’s the warnings that we hear again and again that lose their ability to motivate us, as did the words of Amos to the Israelites, who, as he was writing, were within thirty years of never seeing their homeland again.

Next week closes the 2022 Season of Creation, the annual ecumenical season of prayer and action for our common home. As the Feast of St. Francis draws near, we pray for the grace to act on the alarms our endangered planet is sounding.

How are you taking care of our common home?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

17 September 2022

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 ©2022

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

10 September 2022

Reflecting on Luke 15: 1-32

Here’s an imaginary story that might make the Prodigal Son more contemporary:

He came home, finally.  I saw him staggering towards the gate.  I was too shocked to recognize him.  He’s lost so much weight he barely resembles the boy I love, the one I fed and cared for, the one I taught to ride a bike and jump off the high dive.  His mother didn’t drink coffee for nine months while she was pregnant with him so that he could have the best start in life.

We’d been searching for him, of course.  After he walked away from the rehab center we knew he’d go right back to the streets.    He found his dealer and went straight back to using.  He even admitted that he was the one who broke the window in the basement and stole the computer last winter.  The truth is, we were secretly relieved.  He remembered where he lived.

The kids are torn.  They were crying and hugging him and telling him how much they missed him.  But I know they’re really scared now.  It’s been a year of anxiety for all of us, wondering if he was dead in some crack house.  Now we all have to live with the tension of having him back.  He’s back in treatment and he really does seem like he’s beat it this time.

His older brother held back from hugging him.  There’s been a lot of betrayal there.  It’s going to take a lot of work to repair the damage. 

You’re coming to his Welcome Home party, right?

How do you see the Prodigal Son story living out in your life, or in someone you know?

Kathy McGovern©2022

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

3 September 2022

Reflecting on Philemon 9-10, 12-17

We once again come to St. Paul’s masterful letter of persuasion to Philemon. I always wish Paul had spoken more forcefully against the institution of slavery, but, of course, Christians, already outlaws in the Empire, had no authority to do anything about it. Instead, Paul casually lets Philemon know that his slave Onesimus has run away, and has come to seek help from Paul, in prison, probably in Ephesus.

This is all very risky business. It was risky for Paul, whose term of sentence could have been for another week, another year, or death itself, to allow a runaway slave to take refuge with him.

It was risky for Onesimus to show his face in Ephesus, a thriving port city where, it’s assumed, his master Philemon may have traveled from Colossus, met Paul, and been converted to Christianity. He could have been apprehended and returned.

A common punishment for runaway slaves was to have a leg cut off. But Paul sends Onesimus back to the recently baptized Philemon, to be treated as “more than a slave.” Then he suggests he might be getting out of prison soon, and coming to visit them both. Uh oh. How many legs will Onesimus have when he sees him again?

There’s a wonderful, free online class from the great N.T. Wright on this letter. He says that, if we only had one book from the New Testament that puts a time bomb in slavery, it’s the Letter to Philemon. John Stott, in The Message of Ephesians, says “the gospel immediately began, even in the first century, to undermine the institution; it lit a fuse which at long last led to the explosion which destroyed it”

What other evils in our world cry out for the time bomb of the gospel?

Kathy McGovern ©2022