Monthly Archives: November 2023

Solemnity of Christ the King, Savior of the Universe

25 November 2023

Well, we’ve completed another spin around the sun, this time with the gospel of Matthew as our guide. Next week, on the First Sunday of Advent, we’ll begin all over again, with the gospel of Mark telling its own unique story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Before we leave Cycle A, let’s remember some of the people we met in Matthew’s gospel, for each of them has their own mark on our lives.

It’s only Matthew, of course, who tells us so much about St. Joseph! He’s the one who knows that Joseph was such a good, holy, compassionate, merciful man that, when he learned that his betrothed was already with Child, but before the Angel Gabriel visited him to tell him how that came to be, he decided to divorce her quietly rather than subject her to execution, which would have been his right, according to Leviticus 20: 1-12.

St. Peter gets more attention in Matthew, and it’s here that we learn that it will be upon the faith of Peter that Christ will build his Church (16:18-19). Most of the biblical characters we meet in Matthew we have already met in Mark, the earliest of the four gospels. But it’s the portrait of Jesus as Teacher, as Preacher, as the Compassionate, Merciful One that is so beautiful, and so unique to Matthew.

Jesus becomes exasperated with the Pharisees so often in this gospel that, finally, he says to them, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy,  not sacrifice’” (9:13). He’s quoting the Old Testament prophet Hosea here (6:6), which must really have rankled those experts in all things Jewish.

What is your favorite story of MERCY from Matthew’s gospel?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

18 November 2023

Reflecting on Matthew 25: 14-30

When I ask myself who the people are in my life who have used the talents given them, I always go first to the musicians who make our Sunday worship so beautiful. Consider what it takes to be a choir member. Remember all those cold Monday nights last winter, when you snuggled in with the kids, a warm dinner, and a good book? The reason that the music at Mass the following Sunday was so beautiful is because the members of your choir (and their director) went out into the cold night for a long rehearsal.

Think of the skills a choir member needs. It starts with recognizing that 5 gifts have been given: a pleasant singing voice that can stay on pitch. A sense of rhythm. A disciplined nature. A good musical memory. A supple brain that is willing to be trained to learn the connection between the notes on the page and the music that is sung.

You only have two of the gifts, you say? Beautiful choirs are full of generous musicians who have been given two of those gifts. I’ll bet that those who place themselves in that number would be amazed to see how much their investment in the choir has earned over time. Every gift they give us grows in ways they will never see.

And now, ahem, you say you just like to sing in the shower? Well, I guess we’ll all have to sneak over to your bathroom and listen. OR, you could invest that voice in your parish choir. It’s fun, it builds lifetime friendships, and it builds up the Body of Christ.

Instrumentalists, accompanists, composers, directors, choir members. Thank them today.

What particular gifts are you using to build up the Body?

Kathy McGovern© 2023

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

11 November 2023

Reflecting on Matthew 25: 1-13

Here’s the thing about parables: you can’t look to the right or the left. You have to stare straight down the middle, to the point of the parable, and not obsess about, for example, why it’s GOOD that the bridesmaids with enough oil withheld the needed oil from the others, hence causing them to be left forlornly out in the cold.

I’ve wondered about those five bridesmaids who refused to share their oil quite a lot. Could they enjoy the wedding feast, knowing that their “foolish” friends would not be coming? Did they miss their friends, and regret not finding creative ways to share the oil so they all could gain admittance?

I remember that good feeling of sharing, in grade school, my sandwich (and COOKIES!) with a friend who forgot her lunch. And OF COURSE I was more often the receiver of that kindness than the giver. So this parable hits a nerve.

While we’re at it, what about that guy who finds a huge treasure in his neighbor’s field, hides the treasure, then sells all that he has to buy the field, so he can “find” the treasure on it (Matt. 13:44)? Stare straight ahead, don’t look at the glaring ethical problem there. The point of the parable is similar to the point of today’s parable: the kingdom of heaven requires absolute single-heartedness. Sell what you have, keep your oil lamp lit, don’t let anything distract or deter you from obtaining heaven.

Don’t make parables walk on four legs, advises theologian Randy Alcorn. In other words, don’t make them do more than they are made to do. Oh, and do everything to be happy with God in heaven.

What single-heartedness do you practice in order to go to heaven?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

4 November 2023

Reflecting on Matthew 23: 1-12

Jesus has much to say about the religious authorities whose hyper-vigilant attendance to the Law was choking the beauty and grace from the covenant God made with the Jews.

Jesus hits the nail on the head today when he tells the crowd to do what they are told, but not what they see the “teachers” doing. Oh, boy. Matthew’s gospel remembers Jesus saying, many times, “Go and learn the meaning of mercy, not sacrifice (9:9-13). He is MERCY. The Pharisees are SACRIFICE.

I read a piece by a Denver physician in response to someone asking if doctors worry about their patients when they go home at night. She recounted a story about one time when she got a call after hours about a patient. She was shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods when the hospice nurse called, saying that her dying patient was having breakthrough pain. She needed to fax a prescription for increased pain medication stat.

She asked the clerk for the nearest fax machine. The clerk left her station and the two of them raced to the basement of the store, to the warehouse office. She faxed the prescription, and within minutes the patient was out of pain, with his grateful family at his side.

Did the clerk at Dick’s take a Hippocratic oath to serve humanity? Would the doctor have been within her vows to go home and fax the prescription there? For me, to willfully ignore the person in front of me who needs care is to be a hypocrite, which is the opposite, curiously, of the word Hippocratic. Doctors, and clerks, and train drivers, and parents, are never hypocrites when compassion, not rule-following, is their guiding star.

What individuals can you think of whose compassion inspires you?

Kathy McGovern ©2023