Monthly Archives: February 2024

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

10 February 2024

Reflecting on Mark 1: 40-45

In her fascinating new book on the American saints (When the Saints Came Marching In: Exploring the Frontiers of Grace in America; Liturgical Press 2015) author Kathy Coffey lingers lovingly on St. Marianne Cope, the Franciscan nun who, with six others sisters from her community in Syracuse, N.Y., warmly accepted the same invitation from the Hawaiian government which fifty other religious communities had turned down.

I am not afraid of any disease, she wrote in 1883. Hence it would be my greatest delight to minister even to the abandoned lepers of Molokai.

And so she did. She and her sisters cared for the dying St. Damien, assuring him that his work with those who had contracted the dread disease would continue after his death. She finally achieved real safety for the women and girls on the island by establishing schools and hospitals just for them. She brought games, and laughter, and fun.

The most compelling thing about her for me is how beautiful she was, and how celebrated she is in Hawaii. A visitor to Molokai is immediately greeted by a large, framed photograph of this smiling, radiant Franciscan sister.  Throughout the Hawaiian Islands (where her sisters still minister) her lovely face, shrouded in the white coif and wimple of the 19th century habit, is celebrated on key chains, tins of macadamia nuts, and even beer mugs. She and her sisters are beloved, and the Hawaiians want the world to know about them.

Jesus warned the man he cured of leprosy to tell no one.  Instead, he broadcast it far and wide. When the love of Christ overshadows you, even the remotest parts of the Hawaiian Islands shout for joy.

What ways have you found to reach out to modern-day lepers?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

3 February 2024

Reflecting on Mark 1: 29 -39

Everyone in looking for you, Jesus. And it didn’t take long. Immediately—a favorite word of Mark’s gospel, appearing over seventy times—after Jesus’ first miracle in Mark, when he cured Simon’s mother-in-law with his touch, crowds descended on him. “The whole town” appeared at his doorstep that evening, and he healed many of the sick, and drove out demons.

We can imagine. The mental and physical ailments that make all of us miserable at some point in our lives cause us to cry out every day to Jesus, the Healer. Mark’s gospel abounds with miracles, so much so that I once had a student leave the study of Mark because it was too painful to see all those people being healed, while her daughter suffered terribly every day.

I often think, as I read the accounts of Jesus’ miracles, that there is something about the encounter with the afflicted one that triggers his ability to heal. What was it about Simon’s mother-in-law that stirred so much compassion in Jesus that, when he reached for her, the fever left her immediately?

Throughout this Year of Mark we’ll see Jesus wage many battles with demons. Who knows what the ancients thought demons were? Today we assign the idea of demons to the many vagaries of mental illness—depression, bipolar disease—or brain diseases, like epilepsy.

But not so fast. I’ll always remember Sr. Macrina Scott, OSF, the innovative founder of the Denver Catholic Biblical, after she returned from teaching in Africa. She had always believed that the biblical demons were probably the mental illnesses of today. And then she witnessed exorcisms! And actual demons roaring out of their victims!

Everyone is looking for you, Jesus.

What healings have you experienced in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2024