Monthly Archives: February 2022

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

26 February 2022

Reflecting on Luke 6:39-45

People are so gracious, aren’t they? Just yesterday I called my kind friend Don by the wrong name when he stopped to say goodbye to me after a talk we both attended.

I called him by the wrong name! How would I feel if the situation were reversed? But he pretended not to even notice, and when I apologized he was his usual gracious self, assuring me that he answers to anything.

The truth is, we pretty much advertise who we are every time we speak. During the Super Bowl halftime concert, my niece asked her brother if he knew about the big online feud brewing between two of the rap artists on stage. He said, “Now, how would I know anything about that? Do you think I waste my time with that?”

And so, with those few words, he humiliated my beautiful niece. By her question, of course, she betrayed her own interest in the media lives of the rap stars, and by his impudent answer he betrayed his embarrassment that, just a few years ago, he had been just as obsessed. She knew that, of course, which is why she asked the question.

When we lash out, when we roll our eyes, when we turn sullen and silent, we’re giving a hidden camera view of our hearts. That’s why keeping our hearts pure of secret criticism and secret cynicism is everything. At a moment of stress, we want only good fruit to pour out of us. That’s the true test of how we’re really spending our time and filling our hearts.

Meditate on the good. Delete the bad. That probably includes the addicting feuds of rap stars.

What verbal blunder have you witnessed lately that betrayed the true heart of the speaker?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

19 February 2022

Reflecting on I Sm. 26: 2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23

Am I the only one who really, really resonates with that scene with David and King Saul? It’s delicious in its irony. Here is poor David, hounded all l over the Judean desert by the jealous King.

He and his attendant sneak into Saul’s camp. They find Saul and his sword. This is it! The Lord has clearly placed Saul in David’s hands! It will be just like the child David’s encounter with Goliath years before! Cut off his head and chase his army out of town!

But David walks away from that immense temptation. He leaves the king to his sleep. Walking over to a hilltop and holding the sword aloft, he makes his presence known. Shouting to the sleeping troops, he lets them know how easily he could have slain Saul. But he walks away instead.

How many times has someone offered up to you the most delicious gossip about someone who has been unkind to you, or who has hurt your feelings in some way? Here is the perfect way to settle the score. Let them know what you know. Even better, find casual ways to let others know what you know. But then, in a moment of grace, you don’t. You walk away, and you never think about it again.

Or maybe Saul’s experience hits closer to home. How many times have you, in retrospect, discovered that some graced friend has held back on much-deserved criticism of you, when speaking would have been to their advantage? They gracefully kept silent. There is no way to repay such stunning love. But, like Saul, we can stand in wonder at its unmerited kindness. And we can go and do the same.

Looking back, of which moments of keeping silent are you the most proud?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

12 February 2022

Reflecting on Luke 6: 17, 20-26

The prolific and insightful scripture commentator Alice Camille has this intriguing take on the Beatitudes: if you are poor in spirit, or hungry, or weeping, or being humiliated for taking an unpopular stand, God is very near, because God delights in being the salvation of one in need. Here is how I think this salvation takes place: when grief, or hunger, or a shocking reversal of fortune shakes our foundations, our cracked-open hearts provide a small entry space for grace.

When, as Sr. Joan Chittister says, we are lost in the land of nowhere but God, our very emptiness is what God delights in filling. That space seems to be exactly the right size for grace to seep in. And when grace seeps in—sneaks in?—blessing always ensues.

It’s profoundly moving to see the good news that the gospel is for those who are poor. Visit a nursing home, or maybe a trailer park, and count the number of crucifixes on the walls. The companionship of Jesus in the draft, and chill, and darkness of life is a greater blessing than affluence without him. It is, of course, the call of all believers to help alleviate the draft, the chill, the darkness, while drawing all to him who is Light.

That’s why Father John Kavanaugh, SJ, counsels us to abide in our hunger for holiness, to live with a thirst for justice. Why are there hungry people in a nation of shocking abundance? Thirst for justice for them. Are there people mourning in your parish right now? Abide in hunger to comfort them through the years ahead.

I thirst, Jesus said from the Cross. Blessed be He.

In what ways are you poor? In what ways are you rich?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

5 February 2022

Reflecting on Luke 5:1-11

Our parish is fully immersed in the Synod listening sessions. It’s fascinating to listen to new Catholics, veteran Catholics, and people thinking about becoming Catholic, talking freely and without fear about the ways in which they feel the Spirit is speaking to them about the Church.

What’s missing, at least so far, are those who were baptized Catholic, embraced the faith for a time in their lives, and have now left us. These are the voices Pope Francis wants to hear from most urgently. He wants us to cast into the deep waters, and bring out the voices of the disappointed, the embittered, the abused, the scandalized, the indifferent, and those seeking God elsewhere. He wants those beloved of God to know that he is listening, through the vehicle of this worldwide Synod.

It sounds good in theory, but it’s so hard to do in practice. I’d be mortified to ask my non-practicing family members why they’ve absented themselves from the Table. I’m afraid of what they might say. Fortunately, the process only calls for listening, not for responding.

I don’t want to ask, but the deep water is where the pain is, and where we should be. Might it be that many who have left have been waiting for someone in their lives to ask them why? Do all who leave imagine that they aren’t missed, that the Church will just lumber on, sinful and sorrowful, without them?

I admire my friends who say that they ask their kids their reasons for leaving us, and that they listen and try to be instruments of reconciliation. That’s where the net meets the deep. It might even be where healing begins.

How will you embrace Pope Francis’ call to quietly listen to those who are estranged?

Kathy McGovern ©2022