Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle A

17 June 2017

Reflecting on John 6: 51-58

My friend John’s story about going to the football game with his dad comes back to me every year on this feast day.  “I’ll never give up my season tickets.  I go to every game. It’s the place where my dad and I have our best talks.”

Actually, his dad died nearly thirty years ago. Growing up, John and his dad enjoyed the entire Game Day ritual―Mass, breakfast, driving to the stadium, firing up the grill, hamburgers, and football. They talked, and ate, and shared in the triumphs and humiliations of the game. And the next week, if the team was in town, they did it all again.

John grieved horribly when his dad died in the spring of 1990. He was his best friend. They had built so many memories. He would never see him again.

Except, of course, on Sunday afternoons, in the sun and wind and cold, and the hot dogs and beer, and the cheering and the booing, and memories so real that John feels his dad next to him at every game.  He goes to see his dad, to really feel his presence.

There are many sensory triggers that can transport us. Think about pipe smoke.  Can you smell it? I can, and suddenly my grandpa is with me.  A Beach Boys song on a summer day can bring childhood friends right into the room. These cues make the past Really Present.

As Catholics, we get that. Every Sunday we place ourselves in the position to Re-Member the One who loved us to his death. In the Eucharist the Beloved Past becomes the Real Presence. This is the feast that tells us who we are.

What sensory experiences bring the past right back to you?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Cycle A

12 June 2017

Reflecting on 2 Cor. 13: 11-13

It was really just a teeny fender bender. I was pulling out onto the highway from the ramp, and then I wasn’t. (Right now you might be thinking how much you hate it when drivers give every indication that they are moving out and then don’t.)

So, yeah, he bumped into me. Furious, he jumped out of his truck and ran over to my car, screaming in frustration. A few expletives later and he was on his phone, calling the police.

Then I asked him who he thought would get the ticket. “I know,” he said. “I’m getting the ticket. I bumped into you.”  Since neither of our cars was damaged, I asked if he couldn’t just call back and say we settled things and were moving on, since we were blocking the ramp. “No,” he said, much calmer now, “it’s the law. I need to report this.”

While the officer collected our information I asked him―by now we were addressing each other by our first names―if I couldn’t just tell the officer that I didn’t want him to get a ticket since he was going SO SLOWLY when he hit me, neither of ours cars was damaged, and neither of us was hurt. “You would do that?” he asked.

It was so easy. The officer agreed that it was so minor no ticket needed to be given.  And the guy who had been screaming at me minutes earlier said, “Kathy, I’m sorry.” And two strangers hugged on the ramp and moved on to have, indeed, a very nice day.

Agree with one another. Live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

What opportunities did you take this week to bring peace to your world?


Kathy McGovern ©2017


Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Pentecost Sequence, 2017 – Cycle A

5 June 2017

Reflecting on Acts 2: 1-11

At first we understood them not at all.

What were these utterances―

This glossolalia pouring off their tongues

And into the street

And into the world?

In time, though, our clogged ears opened.

We saw enemies begin to speak to one another

And those who were estranged

Join hands in friendship.

We saw hospitals built, and the sick healed.

We saw Francis and Clare, Vincent and Louise,

Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal,

Benedict and Dominic and Ignatius, Catherine and Jeanne and Elizabeth,

The contemplative Johns and the powerful Teresas,

And ourselves―yes, ourselves! ―Radically forgiving

Radically listening

Radically understanding

Those who don’t see things the way we do.

And then, like a mighty wind, a new heaven and earth began to take shape.

And from then on there were no “foreign” languages.

From then on we all spoke just one language

The Holy Spirit’s language

The first language, the only language

The language of Love.


Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Solemnity of the Ascension – Cycle A

28 May 2017

Reflecting on Acts 1: 12-14

A bold thought occurred to me the other day. What if the Holy Spirit can do utterly wonderful, breathtaking things in our lives, without our even praying for them? Sometimes I wonder if the strong Catholic instinct to work for justice and peace keeps us in a state of 24/7 alert. I know that I forget that the Holy Spirit is still working miracles that have nothing to do with my efforts. Duh.

You know, it’s not like we did so many good works that God decided to give us this wonderful world as a reward. Before any human came to life, the Spirit was hovering over the waters. The Spirit was there at the beginning of the beginning, working the miracle of life, and rivers, and mountains, and sun and moon, and, of course, us. And it was God’s glorious initiative to work in intimate concert with Mary to bring the Savior into the world.

The Holy Spirit came upon her, and it had nothing to do with any good works anyone did. It was God’s mighty power, and Blessed Mother’s “yes,” that saved us.

I think about that in this week before Pentecost. What if God is working a miracle in your life right now? What if the Holy Spirit is curing an addiction of a loved one, or healing a marriage, or luring an adult child back to the comfort of faith? What if God is answering long-abandoned prayers that you gave up on because you decided God’s answer was “no”? The word “Spirit” means “breath.” I challenge you to take note of what God is doing in your life. It will take your breath away.

Think about this past year. What has the Spirit worked in you that you may not even have noticed?


Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

22 May 2017

Reflecting on Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17

Dearest New Christian,

I saw you last week at Mass. Who could miss you? You had that look of joy and deep peace that comes from Jesus. One month ago, at the Easter Vigil, you walked, tears streaming down your face, right into the baptismal font, making your baptismal promises, receiving water, oil, and light, your face showing the deep serenity that comes from seeking and finding the One who loves you beyond all telling.

This process of receiving the Holy Spirit is intense! And you are intense too. We all see the way you listen to the scriptures―especially these Easter scriptures, which are all about YOU and the love that the earliest disciples had for those who were first hearing about Jesus, and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2), and him risen (Matt. 28:6), and him radiantly alive in those who believe (Acts 8:17).

I just had to ask, because the world simply does not give the peace that I see on your face: “How has your life been since your baptism a month ago?”

“Wonderful. We are so happy. We were all baptized together, our whole family. And now we all go up to Communion together. We feel so blessed.”

For those of us whose parents brought us to the font as infants, and who were raised up in the Church, this is the season of gratitude. We didn’t have to fight for what our newest Christians have finally received.

Are we matching the joy of the newly baptized? The verse from today’s first letter of Peter must be ours: Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope (3:15).

How are you cooperating with grace to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

15 May 2017

Reflecting on John 14: 1-12

If you saw me driving around these days you’d probably worry about my mental health. That’s because I’m listening to Charles Dickens’ third and funniest novel, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. Parts of this book are so hilarious I’m laughing out loud, all alone in the car.

There are, of course, terrible, cruel adults oppressing innocent, orphaned children. But, oh, how luminous are the adults in the book who model Jesus’ words in today’s gospel: “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.”

In a world of greedy, greasy sociopaths stalking the streets of London, we meet the Cheeryble brothers, a pair of middle-aged, millionaire businessmen who inhabit every gift of the Holy Spirit, and spend their lives cheerfully (note their onomatopoeic surname) carrying out the corporal works of mercy.

It’s so healing to observe their kindness and thoughtfulness toward each other. These two brothers cherish each other. They abound in gratitude for their business acumen, which has brought them a fortune that they delight in sharing with everyone who comes their way.

Somehow they are still shocked and outraged that any child would ever be hurt in their beloved city. No hungry person is ever met with anything but the warmest friendship. Jobs are found, apartments are found, food and fireplaces and new clothes are found.

Dickens allows us to imagine a world where everyone behaves with outrageous, passionate love, doing the works that Jesus did. The two brothers prefigure, I suspect, his later immortal character Ebenezer Scrooge, who wakes up just in time to learn that humankind was supposed to be his business.  That’s our business too, of course.  So, how’s business?

In this Easter season, how are you doing the works that Jesus did?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

7 May 2017

Reflecting on Jn. 10: 1-10

I have come that you might have life, and have it in abundance.  Who can resist the One who promises that to each of us? I can’t. I never have been able to resist Jesus, and that grace has brought me nothing but blessing every day of my life.

Imagine Jesus, using the language of sheep-tending, trying to draw the Pharisees into the new life that is their inheritance. He reminds them of the sheep-gate, and how the sheep won’t enter until the gate-keeper opens it. The Pharisees just stare at him. Okay, he says, let’s try this: the sheep will only follow the good shepherd. They know the voice of the shepherd who truly cares for their welfare, and they won’t follow the thieves and robbers. The Pharisees look dumbly ahead. They’re just not getting it.

LOOK, says an exasperated Jesus. I AM THE GATE. I AM YOUR LIFE, YOUR HOPE, YOUR SECURITY, YOUR PEACE. He can’t say it more clearly than that. But how can he be the long-awaited Messiah when he has no army, no generals to command, he breaks the laws of the Sabbath, he let that adulteress go free, and he eats and drinks with sinners?

Oh, says Jesus, if today you would just hear my voice. I’m calling you―that’s YOU he’s talking to, by the way. Dig deep. Listen with all your heart. Tune out all soul-deadening clamor of the culture. If you seek me, says Jesus, you will find me. If you seek me with all of your heart I will let myself be found by you.

Abundant life? Oh, yeah. Call us by name, Good Shepherd. You’re coming in loud and clear.

In what ways are you tuning in to the voice of Jesus?

Kathy McGovern ©2017


Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

2 May 2017

Reflecting on Luke 24: 13-35

My husband Cleopas and I decided to leave Jerusalem. We were heartbroken. We had hoped that Jesus, our beloved friend, would redeem Israel. But instead, the Romans crucified him. The Romans are beasts.

Our group spent the next hours huddled together, terrified of the soldiers. This morning, three of the disciples went to the tomb with spices to anoint his body. They came running back with the wildest tale! They were screaming that his body is gone, that he has been raised! And even Peter ran to the tomb and found the burial cloths just lying there in the empty tomb.

People are crying and laughing and screaming and singing, “He has been raised!” But we aren’t naïve. We won’t be taken in by wishful thinking. The Jerusalem group can keep their joy. We saw him crucified. He had no power over the Romans. He wasn’t the one we’d hoped for after all.

But here’s the thing. On the road back to Emmaus, a stranger appeared on the road. He asked us why we were weeping. How could he not know? We started from the beginning, from the day three years ago when he heard about Jesus, and came to find him, and fell so in love with him. We told him about the friends we had made, friends we thought we’d have forever. It felt good to tell the story.

That Stranger was a good listener, but when he started speaking to us our hearts began to burn within us. He opened up our memories. Our frozen hearts began to melt. The love we have for Jesus rose up in us and gave us joy beyond all telling.

Ha! How did we not recognize him? It was Jesus! As usual, we thought we were running away from him, but he was on the road with us the whole time.

How does remembering the Story bring Jesus nearer?

Kathy McGovern ©2017


Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle A

22 April 2017

Reflecting on Acts 2: 42-47

I know what you’re thinking. They held all things in common? Boy, you just couldn’t do that.

Of course you could. You did it in your childhood. Was it so terrible?

A while back my husband Ben renovated our basement. Our friend Karen asked if she could live there for a short time. We weighed the pros of sharing our tiny house with her―laughter every day, and the introduction of the 6pm Happy Hour―and the cons. Funny, I can’t remember any of them now.

At first we were all desperately polite. Her life was her own. We pretended not to notice when she came in. We cooked our separate suppers and assigned her a small corner of the refrigerator and a single shelf in the cupboard. This was a formal, temporary arrangement. In time her fortunes would change and she would go off to her lovely, lonely condo. Isn’t that the American Dream?

Nine years came and went. All of our fortunes changed. We remembered the way we used to live when we were kids, sharing closets and clothes and clotheslines. I still suspect her of making off with the mates of two of my socks. None of us knows whose turn it is to buy the milk. None of us can remember how we used to live.

Today, on Divine Mercy Sunday, she’s marrying her adorable Mountain Mike and moving up to Coal Creek Canyon to help build their new home. We are bereft.

Now comes the separation of goods. Coffee pot? Hers. Blender? Mine. Dog? Ours. Bitter custody battle to ensue.

Hearts? Overflowing with gratitude that this beloved friend was willing to share all things in common with us. Such is the kingdom of the Risen One.

What happy memories do you have of sharing things in common?

Kathy McGovern ©2017


Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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The Resurrection of the Lord – Cycle A

19 April 2017

Reflecting on Acts 10: 34A, 37-43

My Lenten resolution this year was to use less water―to take shorter showers, and to be more mindful of the water I waste.  A thousand miles away, and without our talking about it, my sister chose the same fast, but each day as she ended her too-short shower she added a prayer for someone, known or unknown to her, who needed an extra-loving boost of grace that day.

God, who is not confined by time and space, answered her prayers and those of billions before and after her. On that Easter morning, God gave all creation, for all time, an “extra-loving boost of grace.”

Easter, not Good Friday, is the center of God’s heart.

God did not make death. God made life, and gave it to us, pressed down and overflowing, exactly as our Easter altars express it today. Gorgeous colors, heavenly fragrances, new life bursting from the cold winter graves―this is our God, singing our souls out of their hard shells and saying, “Partner with me, love and protect my stunning world, and I will show you the Risen One in the fruit of the earth and the work of human hands.”

Jesus did not need an empty tomb in order to break the chains of death. He who calmed the sea and cast out demons did not need a rolled-away stone in order to be in glory. His resurrected body was for the sake of those who, confined by time and space, needed a bodily Jesus, raised from the dead and eating and drinking with them.

Those of us who were not the eyewitnesses need not feel left out; we know where to find our Risen Lord.

In what radiant parts of your life do you find our Risen Jesus?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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