Monthly Archives: August 2023

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

26 August 2023

Reflecting on Romans 11: 33-46

We’re never gonna figure it out.  Several years ago, actress Meryl Streep spoke with an interviewer about her own quest to know God.  She searches for a closer embrace of God, but is sure she’s never going to figure out God completely. Who will?  For who has known the mind of God? Even we who have had the grace of the sacraments search for closer communion, and that search fills our lives with beauty and meaning.

We catch a glimmer of the divine, and the electricity from that encounter keeps us going for the rest of our lives.  St. Paul’s encounter with Jesus on that fateful Damascus road lasts just a few seconds; the remaining thirty years of his life are spent looking forward to the day when he will meet Jesus again in eternity.

Fourth of July fireworks interfere with migratory patterns and thousands of birds fall from the sky, birds we never noticed, birds we never knew were there.  And they are just the tiniest fraction of the birds of the air―one hundred billion— that our Heavenly Father feeds every day.  Oh, the depth of the riches of God. 

The human heart is restless, yet deeply touched and comforted by a random call from a friend, a rainbow over the highway at rush hour, a persistent intuition that we are never alone. Oh, the depth of the knowledge of God.

Who do you say I am? Jesus asks.  Search your heart for your answer.  It’s the only thing you ever really need to figure out.

In what ways do you experience the depth of the riches of God?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

19 August 2023

Reflecting on Matthew 15: 21-28

Every three years when this gospel comes around, I cringe at Jesus’ initial dismissal of the desperate Canaanite mother.  I agree with Fr. Richard Rohr, though, that it’s a set-up. Yes, Jesus is making her beg him, over and over. Jesus does not require, or even want us to beg for what we need. But he requires it of her because he wants to show her rich and fierce faith to his lukewarm disciples.

We can imagine him saying to them, Do you SEE the faith of this Canaanite woman? She’s never heard of Moses, never set foot in a synagogue, never had ANY of the opportunities to study the Torah  that you have had. Yet look at how great is her faith! Of course I can restore her daughter! Her faith has set loose the power of God to heal.

And then I imagine the two of them sharing the biggest laugh, because she responded to the invitation to proclaim her faith in Jesus, and that faith opened up his power to save her and her daughter.

Now then. Yes, every three years I  cringe. But this time around I found a whole new, and disturbing, reason: Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”

AARGH. Doesn’t that remind you of every long wait in the ER, trying to get medical help for the underserved, or the  very LONG lines waiting with those who need help filling out forms for food or housing? Send them away. They keep calling out after us.

C’mon, disciples. RESPOND to those who are calling out after you. What Master did you THINK you were following?

How has  your lifelong faith brought healing?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

13 August 2023

Reflecting on 1 Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a

Every once in a while the author of the scripture text likes to have a little fun with the neighbors. That might be what’s going on in that first reading from 1 Kings. Let’s notice what happened just before this 19th chapter.

The prophet Elijah has the ultimate showdown with 450 priests of Baal, the god of the Canaanites, on Mt. Carmel. When it’s over, all the priests are slain, Elijah makes fire out of rain-drenched wood, and brings a deluge out of a three-year drought.

But Jezebel, the pagan queen of Israel who worshipped Baal, put out a hit on Elijah, sending him racing all the way down to Horeb (Sinai) in the desert, in fear of her and her armies.

And this is where the teasing comes in. Waiting desperately for a word from the Lord, Elijah looked for God in the strong and heavy wind that came up—but nope, not in the wind. Then an earthquake! Nope, not in the earthquake. Finally, fire started up! But the Lord wasn’t in the fire either.

The ancient Hebrew audience would have chuckled at all this, because they knew that the Canaanites had gods for wind, earthquake, and fire. Elijah looked for the true god in all three of these, but, sure enough,  there was no god there!

Apparently there was no Canaanite god of still, small voices, for that’s where the true God was found. When he discerned this voice as God’s, Elijah went and stood at the entrance to the cave, ready to do as God instructed.

This story today hints that insurance companies have things backward, since they call earthquake and fire “acts of God”!

When has that still, small voice spoken to you?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Feast of the Transfiguration – Cycle A

6 August 2023

Reflecting on Matthew 17: 1-9

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “daddy hunger”, the term for whole generations of young men and women who grew up without their fathers in the home.  Prisons are full of them―men who had no father to love them, and so seek that “daddy love” from participation in gangs, and women who buy guns for felons, and take enormous risks for dangerous men who give them the attention they crave.

I know hundreds of fabulous fathers, but incarcerated people often know the detached, violent, or demeaning father whose unloving presence serves as the backdrop for their lives. Scratch the surface of a chronically depressed male of any age, and often (but certainly not always) you’ll find his emotionally unavailable father at the center of his wounds.

But not Jesus.  From the moment of his baptism at the Jordan to this transfiguring moment on Mount Tabor, the Father tells Jesus who he is:  My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Wouldn’t this world be a different place if children, boys in particular, heard this from their fathers on a regular basis?  Yes, this is my beloved son.  He makes me proud every day.  The miracle, the Paschal Mystery, is that today SO many wounded men are consciously parenting differently from the way their fathers parented them.

That’s the piece of heaven we learn about first in the gospels:  Jesus is the beloved Son of a heavenly Father who claims him, and names him, and is well pleased with him.  It’s that deep knowledge of being eternally loved that strengthens Jesus to go back down Tabor and face Jerusalem and his destiny.

In what ways do you witness “daddy hunger” in the world?

Kathy McGovern ©2023