Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

26 July 2014

Reflecting on I Kings 3:5, 7-12

 Okay, you’ve bought your Powerball ticket, and you’re checking the numbers.  Look at that!  You’ve got two of the numbers, wait, three, no, four, no five!  Your heart is racing as you check that all-important last number, and YES!  You’ve won the Powerball!  All your worries are over!  You’re a mega-millionaire!

Now you’re standing with your big oversized check, cameras flashing, lottery officials beaming, and the question you’ve dreamed about for years is finally addressed to you:  What are you going to do with all that money? 

And here’s your reply:  I want to purchase an understanding heart so that I might judge rightly and distinguish right from wrong.

Good answer.  An understanding heart.  A listening heart.  Isn’t that the pearl of greatest price?  There is no greater love than to truly listen to someone, no greater gift than to be truly heard.  Solomon could have asked for anything, and he asked for that.  A very good answer indeed.

Think back on the people in your life who were able to put aside their own agendas and really, really listen to you.  Those are the people who change lives and heal hearts.

Parents are the people whom I observe with the most finely-tuned ears.  Because they love their children so much they are able to truly hear them, truly “get” them.  They listen, as St. Benedict asked us all to listen, with the “ear of the heart”.

The ancients had a lovely understanding of the workings of the ear canal.  They assumed that there were tubes that ran from the ears to the heart, so that one could truly hear.  I want that ear surgery, and I’ll bet Jesus knows just how to perform it.

How is your “hearing”?

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

No Comments to “Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

22 July 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 13: 24-43

I’ve got the window open, and I’m eavesdropping on the conversation going on in our backyard.  There are at least six gardeners out there, laughing, chatting, and pulling weeds.  We were lucky enough to have our nearly-one-hundred-year-old back yard included in the Farmyard Community Supported Agriculture yards that these ingenious gardeners turn in to urban paradises every summer.

Debbie, the CEO and most astonishing Green Thumb of the organization, is casually mentioning her 45th birthday tomorrow.  The rest of the group feigns ignorance, asking random questions about how she is planning to celebrate.  She doesn’t have any plans.

If she only knew.  The real reason the full-court press on the weeds in our yard is happening today is that tomorrow night the yard next door to us, owned by Debbie’s great friends and co-workers, will be bedecked with summer tables and chairs and lanterns, and the heavenly fruits and vegetables Debbie’s gardens produce.  Our yard has to look equally beautiful, even though it’s only the staging ground for Debby’s surprise party.

It will be the best eating of the summer, until the fall feast that Debbie herself prepares for all the workers.  It’s early, still, to have a totally sustainable garden party.  But this group…mmm, boy do they know how to cook.

It’s always a mystery where all the weeds come from.  They are so careful to plant the seeds in the beautifully- tilled ground in March.  Weeding is a tedious task, but the gardeners do it with good cheer and optimism. 

God is endlessly at work weeding out what is deadly in us, too. Take a hoe to me, Master Gardener.  I want to look good for the Party.

In what ways are you producing good fruit?

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

No Comments to “Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

13 July 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 13: 1-23

My friend Jim Kloppenberg has written a number of books that have become classics in the field of American Thought.  But to my mind the most important thing he ever said was in a conversation with me forty years ago.

I’ve decided that hell is being strapped down and forced to watch an eternal loop of how your words, and actions, and inactions caused pain to other people.

Imagine an angel taking you on a life review, and forcing you to watch how the seeds of your thoughtlessness or selfishness or just plain meanness had endless effects on the people who knew you, and all of the people they knew, etc.  Oh, wait.  Charles Dickens did that already.

Through the awesome economy of God’s grace, though, the reverse is far more potent.  Heaven will be our eternal astonishment at the harvest of healing and strength and forgiveness and goodness that just one kind word from us set off in the universe.

Here’s an example.  I’ve had a number of orthopedic challenges in my life, but my core perception of myself is as a strong, athletic person.  Why?  Because, at age five, my dad told me I was, and that seed fell on very receptive ground.  All these years later I hear his voice as I bike and swim and stand my ground against the effects of illness. Thanks, dad.

Chaos theory posits that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas.  God, who created order out of chaos, has created a world so fecund that a single smile can usher in the reign of God.  Yes, it’s a wonderful life.  So get out there and sow some seeds.

What good things in your life are the results of a single word?

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

No Comments to “Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

4 July 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 11: 25-30

I have a great summer read for you.  James Martin, S.J. has written, in my opinion,  his best book ever.  Jesus: a Pilgrimage is an utterly captivating, easy to read account of his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  It’s delightful to see the holy sites through the eyes of this insightful author and spiritual director, who is seeing the places mentioned in the gospels for the first time.

Right off the bat he taught me something.  I knew that Jesus was probably not a “carpenter” as we think of that word.  It’s more likely that Joseph and Jesus worked with stone as well as wood.  In fact, Justin Martyr, writing in the year 90, said that carpenters made yokes and plows.

There go any fanciful images of Jesus as a slight young man with soft hands!  Imagine how strong and skilled he must have been, creating those sturdy implements in the blazing sun.  And then imagine him telling his neighbors, the ones who grew up with him and knew him  all those years of his hidden life in Nazareth, to take his yoke upon them, for it is easy and its burden is light.

Happy the oxen who bears a light yoke!  The craftsman who could make that was the pride of Nazareth.  And here is Jesus, bragging about his skill to his friends, urging them to trust him, to find relief and comfort in him, in the same way that their animals find comfort when one of his yokes is placed upon them.

Ah, summer.  Hot dogs, potato salad, and a book that brings Jesus right up on the porch.  Happy Independence weekend.

How have you learned to trust in Jesus more and more?

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

No Comments to “Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

30 June 2014

Those early Christians living in Rome were an ingenious group.  They lived in the shadow of the coliseum, that horror chamber where slaves, gladiators, prisoners, wild animals, and, depending on the whim of the emperor, Christians themselves were massacred in numbers too astonishing to even grasp.  And all of this for the “entertainment” of the public, who appear to have had no end to their appetite for gore.

Imagine living in a world where the emperor thought he was the son of the gods, and celebrated his birthday on December 25th, the feast of the Invincible Sun, a big party around the winter solstice that rejoiced in the sun gradually “coming back” to earth.  What’s a Christian to do in such a world?  That’s easy.  Decide that December 25th will henceforth be celebrated as the birthday of Christ, the true Son of God, the only Invincible Son.

What about the mythical founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus?  Abandoned at birth by their human mother and their father Mars, the god of war, they were nursed by a she-wolf until adopted by a shepherd.  They went on to found Rome, but, alas, they quarreled, and Romulus killed Remus.  So the great city of Rome sprouted from the seeds of war and fratricide.  But a big party in honor of them was held in Rome every June 29th.

What’s a Christian to do?  That’s easy too.  Proclaim June 29th as the feast day of the twin leaders of the Church, Peter and Paul.  That’s how you lift up a culture.  You place Jesus in the hearts of those who want to rejoice, but need an actual reason.

What ingenious ways do you use to bring Jesus into the conversation?

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

No Comments to “Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus – Cycle A

23 June 2014

Reflecting on John 6: 51-58

My friend Noblet barely notices sports teams, even when her home team goes to the Super Bowl.  “What did you and your brothers and sisters DO when you were growing up if you didn’t play sports?” I ask.  “We planted wheat,” she says, and that’s when the dots connect for me.

Of course.  They planted wheat.  They and all the farmers of the world who produce 650 million tons of it every year.  And, in the planting, and cultivating, and praying over, and harvesting of this wheat they partnered with God in bringing bread to the tables of most people on this planet.  That’s at least as satisfying as hitting a fly ball to left field.

Jesus could have said I am the rice of life too, since that metaphor resonates more deeply for the billions for whom rice is the more familiar staple.  When the Hebrew children escaped Egypt (the bread basket of the world) and lived in the barren desert for forty years, God became for them the manna of life.  And, just like every farmer who watches the skies for rain, those ex-slaves watched the skies for God’s daily gift of food. 

They would have to wait for the glorious fields of the Galilee.  For now, the strange, sticky dew would sustain them.

It’s a holy thing, this planting of wheat.  We plant the seeds, and God sends the rains and the sun.  Morning comes, and evening follows, and one day, voilà.  Wheat.

And just as the lovely stalks lift up in the fields, we lift our hearts up to the Lord.  Happy Feast Day, Church, and may we ever see him in the breaking of the Bread.

How are you partnering with God to feed and nourish?

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

No Comments to “Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

17 June 2014

If you’ve never been to Niagara Falls―the Canadian side, especially―you’ve missed a great lesson on the Trinity.  The confluence of the waters of the Upper Great Lakes roars over the three great waterfalls, the Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil, over which pour twenty percent of the world’s fresh water every year.

To stand next to a waterfall so thunderous, so eternal, so life-giving (and so deadly for those crazy enough to hurl themselves over it) is to sense the power of God.  And God is never alone, but always a relationship of Three.

Three waterfalls, pouring six million cubic feet of water over the crest line every minute, can speak powerfully about the life and strength and grace that comes from connecting our lives to other lives, and the lives that come from that.

There is nothing that exists alone.  The great gift of growing older, it seems to me, is to be more and more astonished at how interconnected we all are.  The earliest Christians got it right when they named God as Three, eternally in relationship with each other and with us.

During Holy Week, the memory of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus holds me, breaks my heart, and lifts me up.  In these weeks after Pentecost I am especially aware of the endless ways in which the Holy Spirit finds me, whispers to me, inspires me.

And when I’m standing in the mist of the Great Falls, my heart soars to the Creator of it all, who uses water―the source of all life―roaring over three waterfalls to teach the mystery of God.

In what ways do you sense God in all things?

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

No Comments to “Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

A Pentecost Sequence

11 June 2014

Send your fire, oh Spirit.
Not the fire of guns.  We’ve heard them to death.
Change us.  Do whatever it takes.  We won’t do it ourselves.

Not the fires of forests, dying.
Send the rains of new life, and heal the world.
Create in us a clean heart.  We can’t renew the face of the earth until you do.

Not the terror of medieval minds
Unleashed on hope-filled girls.
Fast-forward their abductors, and all who think like them,
Into a new way of being in the world.

Like a mighty wind, oh God,
Blow away our gods of stuff, and our religion of more.
Make our hearts hungry to find you in the beautiful faces of those
In parts of the world we’ve never sought.

Come, oh Holy Spirit, come!  And give us wider eyes, and humbler hearts.
Let us see the world as you see it, if we can bear it.
Bend our stubborn hearts, and will.
Change us, Spirit, now until He comes again.
 AMEN. AMEN.

How are you cooperating with the Holy Spirit?

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

No Comments to “A Pentecost Sequence”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord – Cycle A

1 June 2014

Reflecting on Mt. 28: 16-20

Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Even at the moment of his ascension the apostles still didn’t get it. They still hoped that Jesus was getting ready to get an army together to expel the Romans from Palestine.  And these are the eyewitnesses!  They had seen him crucified, had seen the empty tomb, had seen him during the days after his resurrection, and still thought that the great work of his life was going to be to gather an army and rid Israel of the hated Roman occupiers.

That would take a lot of power, a lot of armies. But nothing like the power they were soon to experience. From heaven Jesus was about to send them the Holy Spirit, whose fire would burn—still burns—to the ends of the earth.  And yes, the day came when the Romans left Israel, only to be replaced by other foreigners, and today the wars still rage over the very land that Jesus loved. 

But the gifts of the Spirit which poured out on the infant Church just nine (novena) days after the Ascension are as powerful now as they were then.  May those gifts set the world aflame once again, and may those who terrorize, and abduct, and torture, and make their fortune selling weapons, and live their lives as if God can be domesticated and made to see things our way, be utterly converted by the radical love that only comes from the Spirit of God.

How is the Holy Spirit urging me to dream bigger dreams, to build a new heaven and earth?

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

No Comments to “Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

24 May 2014

Reflecting on John 14: 1-12

I really liked the movie Heaven is for Real, but of course when I googled it I found all kinds of naysayers.  Atheists found it ridiculous, of course.  Some fundamentalist Protestants are boycotting it because too many of the wrong people, people who had never publicly “accepted Christ as their personal Savior”, showed up in heaven.  Some fundamentalist Catholics are suspicious of the child’s account of his visit to heaven because he doesn’t have vivid memories of seeing Mary there.

I liked the book too, especially the incredulity of Colton’s Methodist minister father and, oddly, the hostility of the congregation toward the four-year-old’s account of his experience.  The most embarrassing kind of Christian, for some, is the one who believes magical things about an actual heaven, and an actual God who rules there.  Sophisticated Christians, in their view, are past all that.

I think the author of the Fourth Gospel, which we call John’s gospel, would like the movie too, especially the end.  Colton’s father Todd asks his grumbling congregation a series of questions.  What is God’s will?  That we love one another.  Why?  Because God is love, and we who abide in love abide in God.  And where is God’s will being done?  On earth as it is in heaven.  That’s a perfect summary of John’s gospel.

Conclusion: Love is the bridge between heaven and earth.   God, says the minister, showed Colton what we all need to know about heaven:  it is love, only and always.  The people we loved on earth are being loved in heaven.

We have not been left as orphans here on earth.  Rather, we are connected, through the Mystical Body, on earth as we are in heaven.

How do you sense your connection with your loved ones in heaven?

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

No Comments to “Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

« Previous PageNext Page »