Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

16 July 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 10: 38-42

My husband Ben just came in from the garage, grinning. “Well, that was harder than I thought, but it’s all ready to go.” Our housemate had asked him for help with her car, and he spent the morning changing the oil and the air filter. He is never more content than when doing something mechanical, or something that requires physical strength, for someone else. He’s a Martha.

Except that, now, showered and relaxed, he’s back in his chair, reading his book on Saints in Church History. We won’t see him for the rest of the day. He’s a Mary, for sure.

We all are both, aren’t we? We love to serve. Thank God for the Marthas who make every event—a funeral, a wedding, a baptism—so comfortable for the rest of us. They make delicious and nourishing food magically appear, and then just as mysteriously disappear when we are finished. Parish life as we experience it would disappear without them.

Those same Marthas, though, are the ones in the front row for any scripture classes. When there’s an opportunity to be Mary, they’re the first ones there.

I have a priest-friend who shared this about the whole Martha/Mary pendulum. After giving a talk at a parish retreat, he would help gather the dishes, and stay in the kitchen washing them up as people were leaving.

When he was praised for this service he wished he could tell the truth: Do you know what a relief it is to have some quiet, after talking all day? I’m an introvert, and I’m exhausted. Please give me some dishes to wash.

He’s a Mary-Martha. I’ll bet you are too.

What service do you render, cheerfully, to help strengthen your parish?

Kathy McGovern©2022

No Comments to “Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

9 July 2022

Reflecting on Luke 10:25-37

We learn a lot about Jesus in this parable. We learn that he knew how dangerous that road to Jericho was. He was about to go down there himself in a few weeks (Luke 29). We learn of his disgust that the Mosaic Law had more weight than a man dying on the road. The priest and the Levite could afford to leave the wounded man on the road because they knew their religious titles got them out of touching a dead body, and the poor man was so terribly wounded they must have assumed he was dead.

I suspect it was Jesus’ open disgust with the rigid way the Law was observed by the religious elite that probably got him killed (chapters 22, 23).

We learn that Jesus knew that the best way to show the irony of the “religious” was to compare them with the loathsome Samaritan, a half-breed Jew who would never be admitted to any decent table. Certainly even the wounded man himself would never have let an unclean Samaritan touch him, but fortunately he was unconscious at the time.

But mostly we learn what Jesus thinks about the way to care for someone. You touch them, you bind their wounds, you put them on your own donkey and carry them to the nearest inn. You make sure they’re comfortable, and pay their bill.

I’ve had friends like this. Caring for those who can’t care for themselves means you go the extra mile, over and over. I love that Jesus knows this. In fact, I think I may have recognized him in many of the friends I’ve had in my life. It was Him all along.

In what ways have people gone the extra mile for you?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

2 July 2022

Reflecting on Luke 10: 1-9

Is there anyone you know who has remained a joyful, committed Catholic throughout their lives because they are terrified of hell? I don’t.

Some sociologists note an “axial moment” in the lives of believers. The first stage, represented in many Old Testament texts, and a few New Testament (like today’s gospel) is this: an angry, vengeful God is out to get me, and my whole life must be in service to keeping this scary God happy.

But look how the axis turns in that stunning Isaiah text: “Oh, that you may suck fully  of the milk of her comfort,  that you may nurse with delight  at her abundant breasts!” (66:11) This is another image of God the sacred scriptures give us: God wants to be like your mom. God wants to be your comforter, your nurturer. Draw near to this God.

And, of course, we have drawn near, and taken huge comfort in the God who loves us personally, who knows our name, who is with us to the end of time.

We are now in the third axial age. We respect and take great notice of the scriptures that warn us of hell. We will not be like those who have the gospel preached to them but turn away. We dread a judgment worse than what happened to Sodom. But we have also internalized, and utterly believed, that God loves us like a mother loves her child. And now we take that joy into the world, remembering Teresa of Àvila:

Christ has no body on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world.

In what ways does the image of God as a nurturer and comforter strengthen your faith?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

25 June 2022

Reflecting on Luke 8: 51-62

I used to just HATE the part in today’s gospel where Jesus tells his disciples to “let the dead bury their dead.” So, who WOULD bury their parents, if the sons were off being disciples of Jesus? My guess was that it was going to be their attentive daughters.

But then I learned this: those dusty archaeologists (bless them) who spend their lives digging in the scorching Mediterranean sun have given us a very comforting explanation of this MOST unsettling command in today’s Gospel.It’s simply this: the burial time for the dead in Jesus’ day was an entire year.  After burying the dead immediately—as we’ve seen in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ own death—the sons “sit shi’va” for seven days.

But then the corpse was left in the tomb for eleven months, after which the relatives re-buried the decomposed body by taking the bones and placing them in a burial box, an ossuary, and placing it back in the tomb, along with the bones of all the other family dead in various stages of burial.  The tomb continued to fill with the other dead from the family, buried for the first time, and then again a year later.

What a great relief to consider that Jesus was thinking of all those dead, buried with the other dead, whose death demands kept the sons in endless burial cycles. Let the dead bury their dead.  Be at peace.  My heavenly Father knows where all the bodies are buried.  In just a short time you will see what God has planned for My tomb, and yours, and theirs too. Death is not the last word. Just follow me. You’ll see.

What are the burial customs in your family?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle C

18 June 2022

I got to be the Confirmation sponsor for my dear friend Sophia, age eight, last month. She made her First Communion at the same time. I don’t remember ever seeing anything as lovely as those beautiful young children, coming up to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. We all remember the thrill of that, don’t we? I’ve never forgotten it, and I still get a twinge of that same thrill every single time I line up to receive.

As a sponsor, I also got to attend, virtually, the STUNNINGLY beautiful preparation class. There was a point, while Kristen and Kate were explaining Real Presence, that I turned to my husband and said, “If they can just get this I believe they can have a happy life.” Understanding Real Presence is, in my own life experience, Ground Zero for understanding the whole rest of your life.

But the truth is that even the best prepared children, with the most creative and attentive parents, have had to face many scary obstacles to peace of heart that my generation did not. Pope Francis continues to beg older people to impart their humor and wisdom to younger generations, instead of all of their fears for the future.

As Sr. Genevieve Glen says, we invite Jesus into our bodies as a working guest. Work on us, Jesus. Strengthen us in the things that make us truly happy. Send your grace into the lives of every person who once believed in your Real Presence, and help them realize that, bidden or unbidden, you have been their Working Guest all these years.

Happy Feast Day, Church. Jesus is REALLY PRESENT with us.

How do you experience the REAL PRESENCE of Christ in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Cycle C

11 June 2022

I have a problem. For the first time in my wildly extroverted life, I find myself creating too much time alone. Why? Because I’m scrolling through the internet, reading every single soul-deadening news story. No wonder I’m on the verge of tears most of the time.

This temptation to overuse the internet ramped up considerably when I finally got a Smartphone. It’s such heaven to load up a bunch of books on my phone, and then sit out on the porch, reading ‘til my eyes fall out.

And now, the most addicting part of all: did you know you can watch movies on your phone? When did watching movies become the thing you do by yourself?

Driving alone, living alone, watching movies alone…it’s an increasingly seductive lifestyle. It’s killing our souls, and further degrading the environment, when everyone wants their own apartment, and the privacy of driving everywhere alone.

In the beginning, says John Kavanaugh, SJ, there was community. Community. You remember that. Sitting out on the porch on summer nights, drinking iced tea and enjoying conversation. You remember that. It’s when folks relax into the safe place of long friendships and share the highs and lows of the day.

I’m so glad I remember the deep joys of conversation, and so glad I have many touchpoints of community in my life. I can come back from the brink of isolation because I know that true redemption lies in community, not in knowing every single detail of every tragedy in the world.

In the beginning, there was the Trinity. Three Persons. It’s that eternal community, that eternal conversation, that created the world, and us in Their Image.

Are there places of isolation in  your life that are bad for your spirit?

Kathy McGovern ©2022.

No Comments to “Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

A Pentecost Sequence

4 June 2022

Reflecting on Acts 2: 1-11

O Spirit,

We do not know how to pray as we should.

We pray, night after night,

Begging you to rouse your power

          And save.

Save Ukraine.

Save all refugees.

Save all who are caught fighting

In wars against their wills.

          Save us from ourselves.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Summer is near, with its heat and its drought.

Send us good summer.

Let us revel in your flowers         

And your delicious summer fruits.

          Let long, starry nights find home in us.

You, of Comforters the best,

Give fire to those in need of a renewed love for you,

And refreshing coolness to those

Whose resentments are destroying them.

       You, Spirit, are our hearts’ most welcome Guest.

Heal, oh Spirit, touch and heal

The widows and orphans of this war.

Restore and rebuild the wasted places.

And change us, from the inside out.

So that war shall end this day

          And forevermore.

How did your Pentecost Novena these past days build peace and hope in your heart?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “A Pentecost Sequence”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

The Ascension of the Lord – Cycle C

28 May 2022

Reflecting on Acts 1: 12-14

We observe the Feast of the Ascension today, since the traditional date of nine days—novena—before Pentecost is no longer a Day of Obligation. Starting today, and including Pentecost, we have eight days to pray together. (And, for those reading this online a day or two ahead, you can do it the “right way” and begin on the day after Ascension Thursday.)

Here’s a suggestion for a novena for all impacted by the war in Ukraine. If you choose this novena, you’ll be praying with all the readers of this column through the great feast of Pentecost. But there are dozens of novenas online that are all beautiful too.

O God of peace, we remember your disciples, especially your mother Mary, who gathered in that upper room for nine days, praying and waiting for your Spirit. And oh, how your promise was fulfilled! The power of your Spirit filled them, and all in Jerusalem that day, and the light of the Gospel went out to the four corners of the earth.

O God, we beg you to send forth your Spirit upon all who struggle in Ukraine. Change the heart of Vladimir Putin, and all who have been enlisted in this evil aggression. Reveal a Third Way, a way through the Sea, for all who are trapped, and wounded, and starving, and thirsty, and terrified by the endless bombings.

O God, let this war mark the end of aggressions. Bring peace to Ukraine. Preserve Europe and the Middle East from famine. Allow planting to commence. Allow refugees to return. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth. This we ask, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

For what do you need prayer? Let’s pray for every person joining in this novena.

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “The Ascension of the Lord – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

21 May 2022

Reflecting on Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29

It’s unimaginable how brave those early evangelists were. Paul and Barnabas were so positive of what the Spirit was doing to advance the early Church that they took it upon themselves to free the Gentiles, clamoring for baptism, from the requirements of male circumcision, and most of the Mosaic Law.

It was their experience of encounter with those Gentiles in Syria in the mid-fifties that convinced them that this was, indeed, what the Spirit was saying to the Church. But what a huge and shocking departure it was from everything their Jewish backgrounds had taught them about God’s will.

Their convictions, and courageous actions, created such a conflict with the “Judaizers”—-Orthodox Jews who had been baptized into Christ, and yet believed that Gentiles could only access salvation through adherence to strict Mosaic Law—that the first conference ever convened among Christians took place just to settle it.

The Council of Jerusalem ended up siding with Paul and Barnabas. There were a few dust-ups along the way (see Galatians 2, just for fun), but in a decade or two the matter was ancient history, and by the end of the first century it became obvious that the worldwide growth of Christianity would be among the Gentiles.

They listened to the Spirit, those earliest Jewish-Christians, and oh what grace followed. What impediments to the growth of a vibrant Church need to be set aside so that grace may follow? In our wildest dreams we couldn’t find an impediment more “central to the faith” than the Mosaic Law was to Judaism, yet they set it aside in order to save the souls of the billions of Gentiles who would come to Christ throughout history.

What, if anything, is standing in the way of the Spirit’s work?

Kathy McGovern©2022

No Comments to “Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

14 May 2022

Reflecting on Rev. 21: 1-5a

A new heaven and a new earth. Oh, how we long for it. This long winter was made nearly unendurable by the terrible war that goes on and on, misery on top of misery. We look at the ruined cities, and the  millions living far away from home and loved ones. This war is too much with us, and yet it seems that turning our eyes away is the coward’s way out. We force ourselves to see, to know, to pray.

But springtime, and Easter, were made especially joyful this year due to our parish’s delightful experience of helping re-settle a young, hopeful Afghan family, already learning English, and the bus lines, and the funny way we Americans do things. They will thrive, and succeed, and live happy lives here. And yet, we must force ourselves to know about, and to pray for, those left in Afghanistan, who are the victims of the Taliban, and of the last forty years of war.

When John wrote his Revelation, he was writing to seven communities of the infant Church. His great insight into what constituted the new heaven and earth was this: when the kingdom of God comes, God will bring heaven to earth, and God will reign.  And where God is, there is no war,  nor, as in Afghanistan, starvation left in its wake.

We long for a new earth, with millions of species finding their way back to life, and clean rivers, and oceans without plastic. All that and more was envisioned by John: winter replaced with eternal spring, and every tear we ever cried wiped away by God.

Does this vision have its time? The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

What is your own prayer for a new heaven and earth?

Kathy McGovern©2022

No Comments to “Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

« Previous PageNext Page »