Lent – Cycle C

Fourth Sunday of Lent – Cycle C

11 March 2013

Reflecting on Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

One of the things I enjoy about this forum is that I get to talk about books.  It’s also unfair, because I get to share what I’m reading while the reader doesn’t.  But this website  is open for readers from around the country to jump on and talk with each other about spiritual (or other) books they are reading.  Thanks so much for joining the online conversation!

Right now the book that captures me is Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle, S.J.  It’s his memoir of the ministry that the Jesuits set up in South Central L.A. for the ten thousand gang members within the boundaries of the parish where he serves.

At the center of each of the stories is one theme: forgiveness is the only thing that can heal us, ever.  Fr. Boyle has presided over hundreds of funerals of children he loved who were killed by children he loved.  (And then those children were killed by the “families” of the murdered, and the miserable vortex of violence just spiraled higher and wider.)

The Paschal (Easter) Mystery, which is the center of our faith, says this: Your dad beat you? You will never, never beat your own children.  Your brother was killed by a gang member?  You will not avenge his death, but will pray for his murderers.  Your son has shamed you and squandered his inheritance on dissolute living?  You will wait for him at the city gate and run to greet him when he, half-starved and humiliated, returns.

That iconic story of forgiveness is the one we all need to tattoo on our hearts.  Or maybe you have your own story, your own memory of being let off the hook that resonates even more deeply for you.  We’d love to hear it.  We’re listening.

Have you experienced a reconciliation this year?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Third Sunday of Lent – Cycle C

4 March 2013

Reflecting on Luke 13: 1-9

It’s the third Sunday of Lent, and forgiveness is afoot.  The next three weeks  give us those great stories of radical love that are the hallmark of the Lenten season in Cycle C−−−the gracious second chance given  to the Barren Fig Tree, the Prodigal Son, and the Woman Caught in Adultery.  The first two stories are parables from Luke’s gospel, and the third is an event recorded in John’s gospel that scholars suspect was originally told by Luke.  Its wonderful compassion for a woman trapped in a sinful culture is so much like St. Luke that it fits perfectly in Cycle C.

I really resonate with today’s unproductive fig tree.  There are many areas of my life that continue to exhaust everyone around me, while bearing no fruit whatsoever.  (Let’s not fuss with the details, okay?)  But year after year I resolve to eat less, be less sloppy, be on time, depend on the kindness of others less and on my own discipline more.  (Okay, those are the details.)

I can hear that unfruitful fig tree crying out, in the secret language of trees, “Stop!  Please!  I’ll work harder.  I’ll take less and give more.  Please give me a second chance.  I don’t want to die.”  And we breathe a huge sigh of relief with the tree when the Gardener−−−yes, the very One who tended the original Garden−−−promises to sacrifice his own efforts in order to save the life of the tree.  A second (millionth) chance is given.

But watch! The crocus pulls up. The trumpet sounds.  It’s the third Sunday of Lent, and because forgiveness has outmatched justice, Easter is afoot.

What radical love have you experienced this Lent?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Second Sunday of Lent – Cycle C

25 February 2013

Reflecting on Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18

We’ve had so many beautiful, clear nights this winter that I’ve taken to stopping just before going in the door at home and looking up at the skies.  The stars hang in the sky like diamonds, and it always shocks me a bit that this immense galaxy holds such beauty just above my little house.

Of course, my friends in Africa, and Israel, and Norway tonight will look on the very stars that light the doorway of my house.  As musical composer Chris Tomlin wrote so gracefully, “God of wonder, beyond our galaxy, you are holy, holy.”

I like to imagine the stars in that desert sky when God told Abram to count them, if he could.  Now, this is even more amazing when we consider that it was daylight when God issued this challenge!  (We surmise this because later, in verse 17, it says, “When the sun had set and it was dark”.  No wonder he couldn’t count them!)

Anyway, the current estimate is that there are three thousand million billion stars in our galaxy alone. That’s how many descendants Abram was to have. Well, if you count every Jew, Christian, and Muslim who has ever lived (and apparently no one ever has counted them, but I’ll keep googling), certainly they comprise the tiniest fraction of the number of stars. So, apparently the children of Abraham still have a long time to live on the earth.  If my visits to the Muslim and Jewish quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem are any indication, Abraham’s descendants continue to multiply at a great rate.

It’s the beauty of the image of this great promise that catches my heart when I gaze upwards at night.  Count the stars?  Of course we can’t.  But God, the Intelligent Designer, used the astounding stars to capture our imagination: all creation is in an eternal covenant with the merciful and awesome God of Wonder.

Do you like to star-gaze?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

First Sunday of Lent – Cycle C

17 February 2013

Reflecting on Luke 4: 1-13

I always get a little chill when I think about that single instant in which Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.  It’s fascinating to consider what the evangelist thought Jesus saw.  Luke knew about ancient Egypt and Greece, but he had no idea that there were civilizations unknown to him (but not to Satan, apparently) far to the east that had been flourishing for over two millennia.

I don’t imagine that Jesus, who was present at the creation of the world, was  surprised when Satan showed him North China, or the Indus Valley, or Africa, or even the kingdoms of the Americas, the existence of which would not even be known by people in the Middle East for another 1400 years.  Those histories, which are still unfolding through the work of archaeologists and nature’s own ingenious way of revealing the past, were certainly in the mind of God before the beginning of time.  The spooky part is that they are in Satan’s mind too.

And what did Jesus see, in that instant, of the kingdoms to come?  The fall of the Roman Empire, the vast reach of Islam, the “New World” and its diverse indigenous peoples, the bloody revolutions, the abundant harvests, the great cities and the thousands of agrarian communities were revealed in an instant.  He saw the “little man” of Assisi.  He also saw Auschwitz.

Three years later, after Satan had returned to enter Judas and to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22), Jesus saw it all again, this time from the hill of Calvary.  And all creation, from the beginning until the end, whispered with the Good Thief, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

How do you feel when you think about Jesus seeing you from the cross?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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