Monthly Archives: October 2019

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

26 October 2019

Reflecting on 2 Tim. 4: 6-8, 16-18

How did St. Paul die? Tradition holds that he was taken in chains and beheaded during the reign of the super-crazy Emperor Nero. St. Peter is believed to have been martyred around that same time, possibly 64 AD, after the great fire that destroyed 70% of Rome. The Christians living in Rome were accused (by Nero) of starting the fire, and this became the excuse for hunting them down and executing them. Nero had much at stake here, since the earliest accusations about the fire were leveled at him. The Christians provided his dearly-needed scapegoat.

It must have been terrifying for Paul, long a prisoner in Rome, to hear that Nero was rounding up the Christians of the city and having them martyred. He had encouraged and exhorted and inspired thousands of people to accept Jesus, in an empire that sporadically broke out in horrifying persecutions of them. Now came the terrible test. Could they endure torture and death for the sake of the Name? Could Paul endure it himself?

“The time of my departure is at hand,” we hear in that touching second reading from 2 Timothy. And then we hear, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat.” But the evil threat was real, and Paul was not rescued.

So, was Paul misled, and, in misleading others, cause their horrible deaths as well?

We all reach the point in our life in Christ where we face the crucifixion of Jesus square on. He was not rescued from the cross. God did not deliver him. But oh how he, like his great apostle Paul 30 years later, was “brought safe to the heavenly kingdom.”

Does the martyrdom of the earliest Christians encourage your faith?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

19 October 2019

Reflecting on Lk. 18: 1-8

That poor widow. She didn’t have enough money to bribe the judge. You’d think she would have put something away in her emergency fund for that line item. Fortunately, God’s mercy is greater than that of any judge.

Now, this particular judge cares nothing for God nor human. He turns a blind eye to despair and horrific human rights abuses. He’s rendered the “dishonest” judge, which suggests that his justice can be bought for the right price. However, she figures out how to wear him down. She simply stations herself at his courtroom door and doesn’t budge until he does.

It’s kind of the opposite of what we view as good parenting. The virtuous parent cannot be cajoled or beat down by the constant begging and temper tantrums of a strong-willed child. In the standoff between what the child wants and what’s good for the child, the wisdom of the good parent prevails.

But in this case it’s the strong-willed widow who will not be moved, and she represents us as we go before God in prayer. But is God the unfeeling, stone-cold judge who can only be forced to give justice when utterly worn down?

I love this more contemporary way into this parable: God is the stubborn widow, unrelenting and undaunted, pounding on the doors of our hearts to force US to open, US to give shelter, US to give warm nurture to the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the land (Deut. 10:18).

In this interpretation, God is demanding justice of US. That’s scary. I know I’m incapable of any action that could level the playing field in my little world, am I? Hmm. Now who’s the dishonest judge?

If God is the widow and you are the judge, what action is God asking of you?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

12 October 2019

Reflecting on Lk. 17: 11-19

Geography. It’s my biggest challenge. I remain mystified by maps and global positioning, and—it really is this bad—if I pull up a Google map of the street where I’ve lived for 31 years I have no idea how to find my house.

But geography is one of the main characters in biblical stories. Knowing where an event took place gives the reader insight into the lives of the people involved. For Namaan the Syrian to travel all the way down to the Jordan River, passing two perfectly good rivers in Damascus on the way, tells us how miserable his leprosy was, and how desperate this “foreigner” was for relief.

After his healing he had one plan moving forward. He would cart home as much of that holy ground as possible, because “there is no God on all the earth, except in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15). Hmm.

The ten lepers (whom St. Luke says appeared to Jesus at the border of the Galilee and Samaria) were instructed by Jesus, before they were cleansed, to show themselves to the priests. Now, one of those lepers was actually from Samaria, where the Samaritans had their own Temple and their own priesthood. Awkward! Did he really have to go all the way down to Jerusalem to find the priests, or could he stay put once he arrived in his own town?

His resolution was perfect. He went back to Jesus and gave thanks to him! Unlike Naaman 800 years before him, this “foreigner” perceived that the One True God wasn’t chained to a land, or a Temple. To know this God, and give thanks to this God—euchariston—makes all of us strangers no longer.

What favorite geographic spot brings you closest to God?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

5 October 2019

Reflecting on Luke 17: 5-10

Many years ago I attended the going-away party of a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ) who, after working hard well into her eighties, was moving to their retirement home because of some health problems.

For over an hour the tributes to her brought forward secure, prosperous adults whom she befriended as at-risk children, and cared for into adulthood. We heard from grateful parents who were devoted to her because of her passionate advocacy on the part of their children, decades earlier.

We watched elderly, frail nursing home patients weep in gratitude to her for her compassionate care for them. We heard multi-generational stories of her friendship to families who needed and loved her, from their own childhoods all the way to the lives of their grandchildren.

She was, of course, miserably uncomfortable through the whole evening, watching the clock and trying to get out from under the attention she had successfully eluded her whole life as a Religious, until she couldn’t find anywhere to hide and had to listen to a small fraction of the people who love her.

When it was finally her chance to speak, after the lengthy standing ovation and over the muffled sobs of the packed room, she simply said, “What’s the big deal? I only did what I was supposed to do.” And that was that.

My scripture-teacher husband Ben says to me all the time, as I thank him for the endless ways he makes my life joyful, “ I am your unprofitable servant. I do what I am obliged todo.”He’s kidding, but not really.

We are meant to serve each other, in Jesus’ name. I love being a servant in the household of God.

In what ways are the most rewarding parts of your life related to service?

Kathy McGovern ©2019