Monthly Archives: October 2022

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

29 October 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 19:1-10

It’s that gorgeous time of year again, and our street is the most jaw-dropping parade of golds and reds in town. This morning, without thinking, I just stopped walking and looked up into this shimmer of yellow. I don’t know how long I stood under that tree. It’s as if I were hypnotized by color. I sang to myself the beginning of Psalm 19: The skies declare the glory of the Lord, and the earth proclaims God’s handiwork. Day by day they pour forth speech to declare the knowledge of the Lord.

I  don’t suppose they had the kind of autumns in Jericho that we have, given that it’s not only the oldest city on earth, but, at an elevation of 864 feet below sea level, also the lowest. But the sycamore-fig tree that Zaccheus climbed was probably rich in fruit, which made it a popular destination for the whole city. But it wasn’t the fruit that caught Jesus’ eye, but the tenderness of someone so broken, and so longing, that he had shimmied up a tree to see him whom his heart already loved.

There’s a connection here, I think. In gazing at our silver maple trees this time of year we are gazing at death, in its stunning disguise of cherry-red leaves. Zaccheus, his pockets lined with gold, was dying too. But some lifesaving instinct made him climb that tree. He turned his eyes upon Jesus, and when Jesus invited himself for dinner, he immediately changed his life. Yes, he was watching for Jesus up in that tree. But  you get the sense that Jesus was on the lookout for him from the start, maybe from the beginning of the world.

Was there a moment when Jesus “saw” you that changed your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

22 October 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 18: 9-14

What if today’s gospel story had ended this way?

It turned out that there was construction going on in the Temple that day, and the spot where the Pharisee always prayed was full of stones. Well, he had to move all the way into the center of the Temple, and had barely begun to thank God for the many ways he was righteous, when a tax collector, of all unclean people, moved right next to him. He, too, had been pushed out of his humble prayer place by the construction, and was mortified to find himself right next to the Pharisee.

O God, said the Pharisee, I can’t pray properly with this obscene tax collector next to me. Look at him, bowing and weeping and beating his breast! And the tax collector, glancing at the Pharisee, wondered what it would be like to approach God with such confidence, with such assurance that God was pleased with his behavior out in the world.

Now, it happened that there was a Teacher in the Temple that day, a man named Jesus. Both men had heard of him, of course, and drew even closer to each other so they could hear him better. And what astonishing words he spoke! He looked at both of them with such love, such deep understanding of the detours their spiritual lives had taken that caused them to pray in such different ways.

And when it came time for the two men to leave, they embraced as dear friends. They had encountered the Healer. The first had been healed of his arrogance, the second of his shame. And from that day forward they always prayed TOGETHER, since praying apart had caused them so much sadness.

How does your parish help people of different pieties pray TOGETHER?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

15 October 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 18: 1-8

Was St. Luke raised by a widow? You have to wonder. The other three gospels barely mention widows, but Luke gives us nine stories of widows, and his companion volume, the Acts of the Apostles, gives us another three.

It’s Luke who points out that when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple, it was the widow Anna who stepped forward to bear witness to the special status of the Child. Today we have another Lukan widow, so strong and savvy that she squared off against a judge, and WON.

It shouldn’t be surprising, since  Luke’s gospel is shot through, on every page, with compassion for those who are poor, and widows were the poorest of the poor. I remember my great friend, Sr. Macrina Scott, telling of her experience of a widow in Zambia. Immediately after the husband’s death, his father and brother came to her house and stripped it of everything of value. Then they threw her out of the house. The men-folk owned it now.

The widows in the New Testament were almost in similar straits. Think of the widow of Nain, who had no husband, and her only son had died (Lk. 7: 11-17). Jesus’ heart went out to her. He raised her son and “gave him to his mother.”

Actually, come to think of it, given that St. Joseph disappears so early in the gospels, the better question is, “Was JESUS raised by a widow?” I think he was. And might it be that Jesus’ deep compassion for the widow whose only son had died is a foreshadowing of the grief he knew his Mother would bear? And, of course, God raised that Son too.

In what ways are you of service to those who have lost a spouse?

Kathy McGovern ©2022 This column was inspired by Madelon Maupin, 5/16, NT. Bible Study

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

8 October 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 17: 1-11

Nine of those people who suffered from leprosy went straightaway to show themselves to the priests. They must have been overjoyed to see, on the way, that they had been healed. Showing themselves to the priests meant that they could then be declared clean, and thus reunited with their families, able to be employed again, and able to worship in the Temple.

But one, the Samaritan—the outcast, the one who may not have had a family, or a job, or able to worship in the Temple— turned around immediately and returned to find Jesus, so as to give glory to God.

I resonate with that Samaritan, and I’ll bet you do too. Has there ever been a time in your life when someone in authority noticed you, and gave you, say, a spot on the team, or a job you really needed, or a shout-out of recognition in front of a crowd? That person took a chance on you, and did so at a cost. And the gratitude we feel towards those people in our past has no language. We simply try, for the rest of our lives, to earn that privilege, to make it worth the cost of giving us a chance.

I think that’s why the Samaritan came back. I’ll bet no one had ever taken a chance on him before, and here was this Jesus, sending the Power of God into him, when many would say that that Power should not have been wasted on him, but on a righteous Israelite. He came back because he wanted to glorify the God who took a chance on him. That’s why we come back too, Sunday after Sunday.

How do you glorify God for taking a chance on you?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

1 October 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 17:5-10

For me, the miracle of the mustard seed is realized in what might seem like SMALL STUFF, but is actually the things that are huge in our lives. I will never forget a trip to the Holy Land many years ago. It was my privilege to assign readers from our group of sixty for every Mass and prayer service we would attend during our two weeks there.

Imagine the thrill of getting to read the gospel account of the Last Supper in the VERY ROOM where that meal took place. Imagine reading about the birth of Jesus IN THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITIY. But when we reached our last destination, the place of the tomb of Lazarus in Bethany, my heart sank. I had saved the reading of the resurrection of Lazarus for the best reader in our group, the person who had recently experienced a great loss, the person whose life best witnessed Jesus’ power to lift us from the tomb.

And when we arrived, I realized that I had accidentally given that reading to two people! Does this seem like SMALL stuff to you? I could have died, right there in the tomb once laid out for Lazarus. I was beside myself. Being careful with the small details of ritual is a sacred responsibility, and I had made a terrible mistake.

But, not to worry. The second person was, somehow, totally unaware that he was set to read. Rita stepped forward, and I have never heard that gospel proclaimed with such power.

Afterward, the guide gave us little packets of mustard seeds. Even today, the memory lingers. Answered prayer shows up in the small stuff.

What “little” moments of grace have you experienced in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2022