Monthly Archives: July 2023

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

29 July 2023

Reflecting on 1 Kgs. 3: 5, 7-12

What WOULD I request if God offered to give me my deepest desires? I admit that an understanding heart might be way down the list.

In retrospect, of course, I see how wise Solomon really was. An understanding heart can go a long way when attempting to rule a huge, unruly kingdom!

An understanding heart can see through the pain of illness and injury. Compassion and tender care from those in your life—and even NOT in  your life—can heal your heart, even as your physical wounds remain.

It’s inspiring that Solomon didn’t go the way of his father David, and ask for revenge on all his enemies. Nor did he ask to become the wealthiest man who ever lived, which is certainly what happened: “So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom” (2 Chr. 9:22).

This story of Solomon might be helpful to us as we look back on the endless blessings of our lives. One blessing—say, a supportive teacher in grade school—leads to another blessing, maybe an award, which leads to a new school, and new friends who share our same interests.

Years down the road we may look back and wonder why God never blessed us as Solomon was blessed. The answer is that God did, through many channels. At least I pray that’s how God has worked in your life. In Solomon’s day (and even in our own!) it was assumed that financial prosperity followed the person whom God blessed.

But those who have received an understanding heart would never expect any other riches, for they’ve been given the greatest treasure of all.

How has the wisdom of an understanding heart blessed you?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

22 July 2023

Reflecting on Mt. 13: 24-33

Here’s a fun fact. Did you know that the chances of that one sperm, among hundreds of millions over a lifetime, fertilizing that one egg that created UNIQUELY YOU, are greater than you winning the Powerball every day of your long life?

So, somewhere in the weeds of those millions of denied opportunities for implantation, YOU were created. You are the flower growing up in spite of all those odds. Thank God.

As John Kavanaugh, SJ said so beautifully, “Creation is like that, a great lotto of life, a sea of rushing graces and missed chances.” When I consider the immense beauty and blessing of every friend and family member I have, and all the good that flows from each of them, I’m so grateful they beat the odds.

The community garden in our back yard, begun twelve years ago with a single shovelful of dirt, is stressed. The harvest is plenty, but laborers are few. As a result, an entire quarter of our yard, once used for delicious tomatoes and onions, has gone to weed.

And not just little, vexating weeds, but huge, high-flying weeds, trying to choke off the seeds of fruits and vegetables. My husband Ben and I quote today’s gospel from Matthew as we survey the ruins: An enemy has done this (13:28).

But the gardeners planted rye in a big chunk of our yard this year. Rye is good for healing and rejuvenating ground that has been heavily farmed. So, this year is about letting the ground renew, looking ahead to beautiful crops next year.

So often, it’s the teeny things—tiny seeds, tiny sperm—that create fruit that lasts. Our task is to trust that God will continue to rush the graces that bring and sustain life.

What great things have you done because someone had a small seed of faith in you?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

15 July 2023

Reflecting on Mt. 13: 1-23

My funny friend was telling me the other day about a book she found at the library. At first, the captivating title and first few chapters kept her glued. “What an interesting book,” she said. “You might like to get it from the library.” But a few more days, and chapters, later: “What a trashy book. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. If my mom were here she’d say, ‘You march that book straight back to the library, and then go to confession on your way home.’”

It sounds as if the book, like the seed that fell on rocky soil, had a strong start, but only because it was built on unstable and unsafe ground. It probably had lots of trending language, lots of hip references, but no solid ground on which to build a really great book. When the heat of critical eyes penetrated its raunchy language and slim storyline, the book’s spine started to melt. We need more “mom’s voices” in our heads these days, reprimanding us for falling prey to books and movies built on the rocky soil of violence and the culture of death.

Many of us remember the Legion of Decency, and the vow our parents took on December 31st of every year to  “not attend immoral films and protest any protest any movies that offend public decency.” Maybe the time has come for Catholics to take another, life-saving vow: a vow of nonviolence. Such a vow requires us to respect ourselves and others, to listen, to forgive, and to challenge violence and support justice.

Now THERE’S seed that’s sown in good soil, and will only take root and grow.

In what ways has good seed grown in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

8 July 2023

Reflecting on Mt. 11: 25-30

I’ve been to a lot of funerals lately. Each has been beautiful in its own way. Each broke open the mystery of the life of the deceased in unique and touching ways. But the thing that each of these gatherings had in common was the bringing together of diverse and loving friends from all parts of the globe to remember and honor their beloved.

Many of these friends has left the Church of their childhood, and yet I felt a great longing from them of the love and security they knew as children. Watching them watch the videos of the First Communion, Marriage, and life of faith that the deceased lived, with the hundreds of friends who companioned them in that life, I thought I felt a wistfulness for that which they left behind.

I thought I felt a kind of surprise, like that of adults looking at where their life might have gone if they had chosen a different route, and realizing that leaving “childish” things behind meant that they left far more than they realized.

Might joining the ranks of the “wise and learned” have given them comfort for a time, but being back with their childhood friends, and memories of their Catholic childhood, bring them to the shocking awareness that they were smarter, and happier, on the day of their First Communion than they are today? Might it actually be true that God had revealed the beauty of faith to them as “little ones”?

It must be said, of course, that for MANY, leaving is what has given them peace, and they have no regrets. The “childish” things were what drove them away, and they have been much happier.

What a relief it is to lay it all down, all the burdens of trying to remain in a Church that brings you no life. Funerals can really be a lens through which we realize the good and the bad of our childhood faith. But a life without a daily relationship with Christ is what is mourned. What a relief to once again take up the easy yoke of faith.

What burdens of being wise and learned are you ready to give back to God?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

1 July 2023

Reflecting on Mt. 10: 37-42

I love showering the people I love with love. That’s why this gospel pericope (extract from the text) REALLY bothers me. Jesus challenges tribal identity when he tells his apostles they must love him more than they love their parents, or even their children.

When I drive by the hundreds of encampments of chronically unhoused people in our city, it’s clear that the bonds that hold families together aren’t strong enough to combat, as our mayor said, “a nationwide drug crisis, mental health crisis, and continued fallout from the pandemic on our most vulnerable residents and communities.”

Many people living on the street are disabled, or escaping domestic violence. And a preponderance of young, emaciated men are living on the street because of addictions.

I really wonder if there were encampments in Jesus’ day. Were there hundreds of thousands of people living out in the elements, not because they were pilgrims, but  because their families couldn’t help them anymore, or because their particular situations forced them to reject the help? 

As I think of all this now, I see the wisdom in this hard saying of Jesus. That’s why we need to love Jesus MORE than our families. Wars, pandemics, shocking cultural tsunamis have all changed the way we live. Our family bonds have become fragmented and do not seem to have the strength to support us.

What has held us together through it all is our fidelity to, and love of Jesus. Jesus was inviting a love of God that compels us to build communities of love, which reach out and protect and help those whose familial bonds have shattered. That’s the love that may save the whole human family someday.

What ways have you witnessed the love of Jesus poured out on the most vulnerable?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Two friends whose lives are dedicated to these issues—Rita Niblack and Ann Zimmer—made this essay much better.