The Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle B

12 June 2021

I love to read advice columns, mostly for the letters. It’s eye-opening to read the situations in which so many people live. The saddest thing for me is that I have the answer to every problem I’ve read, and it’s so easy: Christ, and the Eucharist.

I wonder if those who write in to advice columns have been on too many dating sites, with their romantic images of togetherness. Foot massages. Date nights. Long walks on the beach. Those of us who have been married forever—the greatest blessing on earth, by the way—howl at these superficial offerings.

A foot rub? Every night my husband lovingly straps my nerve-damaged foot in a big ugly tool he pulled out of the garage. He’s rigged it so the heavy part drops as an anchor over the bed, while the cord wraps around my ankle and pulls it away from the nerve that is screaming. The relief is tremendous. Romantic? More than words can say.

He does this, day after day, because as a child he trained his brain to recognize Christ, really present in the consecrated Bread and Wine. Then he trained his brain to recognize Christ in every person God brings into his life.,

You know that plaque that says Get you somebody who looks at you the way your dog looks at you? Here’s my best marriage advice, or just best advice in general:

Get you somebody who sees Christ in you. That’s where heaven and earth meet. That’s the answer to every problem.

St. Teresa of Calcutta challenged us to see Christ in his most distressing disguise. You don’t want to miss him. Happy Feast Day, Church.

How will you work to see Christ in the person you most dislike?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

6 June 2021

Reflecting on Ezekiel 17:22-24

This weekend, as I read about the shoot taken from the mighty cedar and planted on the mountain heights of Israel, I find myself thinking about the historic north Denver church where my husband Ben leads the choir on Sundays.

If you were baptized in Denver between 1907 and 1940, there’s a thirty percent chance you were baptized at Annunciation Parish. The Irish, Italians, and Germans built the church, and filled its grade school and high school. Those were the glory years, when the immigrant Church packed the pews, and the mighty shoot of deep religious faith was planted in Denver, 5280 feet up above sea level.

Later, devout African Americans put down roots in the parish, and today a robust Hispanic community fills the Church. The neighborhood is changing again, and the young, upwardly mobile Anglos walking by the church are starting to be lured into stepping inside. Thank you, Capuchin priests!

Imagine this: there is one singer in this tiny eight-person choir who has sung in the choir since the late seventies. For over forty years, Ron Vigil has set his alarm, dressed, and arrived to sing for Mass.

For many years, under the leadership of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, the choir was massive, and music soared to the heights of the Gothic ceiling. In the late eighties, in fact, Hollywood came calling, and filmed many episodes of The Father Dowling Mysteries there. Ron can pull up the episodes that featured the choir and play it for you, if you’d like.

Faith can take root from the mightiest tree, or the tiniest mustard seed. The task, though, is to stay faithful. How else can later generations find shade beneath your branches?

From which shoot has your own faith been nourished?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Cycle B

29 May 2021

Reflecting on Rom. 8:14-17

I’m always sad when the Easter Season ends. It’s crazy, but it seems like with the close of Easter we may as well just get the Advent candles out. That’s crazy, right? We have a full twenty-four of Ordinary Time ahead. That’s weeks and weeks of lazy summer days, and then the delightful months of October and November. By that time we will all be ready for the new liturgical year to begin, but not until.

This Sunday and next are odd. They are major feasts of the Church—Solemnities, even—but they are also the first Sundays in Ordinary Time since we left Ordinary Time a full fourteen weeks ago. Have you ever considered that the forty days of fasting (Lent) and the fifty days of feasting (Easter) comprise a full one-quarter of the Church year? We spend 25% of the year in specific seasons that reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the rest of the year celebrating this Paschal Mystery:

We proclaim your death, oh Lord. There is something in us that understands that death is not the end, and having a Savior who died a terrible death brings us close to him in our own dyings.

And profess your resurrection. We are now in the season of risings. The flowers, the fields, and our own spirits feel lifted up to the sun. We draw close to Jesus, who knew the way out of the tomb, and leads us out of our tombs too.

Until you come again! We wait in joyful hope for that trinity of Christian belief: You died, You rose, You will come again. We cherish every Ordinary Day that brings us closer to You.

What are the three blessings of this past year for which you are the most grateful?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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A Pentecost Sequence – Cycle B

22 May 2021

Reflecting on Acts 2:1-11

We were all waiting still in that same Upper Room.

You know, the one right above David’s tomb?

Mary, his mother, was there, to be sure.

We all had a lifetime of questions for her.

What was he like as a child? And then:

Do you think that he knew He was God, and when?

We remembered him turning that water to wine.

But somehow we didn’t know He was Divine.

Then we couldn’t stop it, as much as we tried:

Something was coming right at us, inside!

A noise coming up like a strong, driving wind

And it filled all the space of the house we were in.

And fire, like flames, hovered o’er each of us!

We were stunned, we were shaking, rejoicing, and PLUS

You know how the foreigners fill up the Square?

We could speak in the language of everyone there.

So THIS was the Promised One, Spirit so strong

We could feel history move, and then carry us along.

We cried, we laughed, we were filled with such courage

That even the Cross would never discourage

Each one of the Twelve, on this day of NEW BIRTH,

From reaching to preach to the ends of the earth.

O Spirit, O Comforter, come with Thy Aid,

To fill all who are reading this poem today.

How do you feel the grace of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Kathy.McGovern ©2021

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Seventh Sunday of Easter/ Ascension – Cycle B

15 May 2021

Reflecting on Acts 1: 1-11

Nine days—novena —before Pentecost, Jesus said You are my witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Seriously? Us? Well, okay then. We can do this. We have done this. We will do this. And with Pentecost right around the corner, we’ll get an extra boost of SPIRIT to help us do this.

I recently read a shocking letter, written by a woman who had a terrible experience dropping into a new church after having to leave her home in order to place her husband in nursing care. She was heartbroken, lonely, depressed. She went to a new church where she knew no one. She received no welcome, no “Hey, you’re new here, aren’t you?” She begged the leadership to help her find a bible study, or someone to pray with her, or help companion her during the sad transition she was undergoing, but she received no comfort.

Can you imagine that? At our parish a new person walking in better be able to run, because we’re going to love them within an inch of their lives.

But it’s not like the old days out there. People have truly been left behind in so many ways. Have you seen Nomadland? That was a revelation. There is an actual community of people who travel the country in old campers and RVs, who find family with each other when they meet up at roadside camp sites.

I wonder if the best way to bear witness to Jesus is to just shower the people who come into our lives with love. The waitress, the mail carrier, the police officer — show them Jesus this week. Then watch what the Spirit will do.

Ready. Set. GO.

How will you shower the world with love in this week before Pentecost?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

8 May 2021

Reflecting on Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

Today was the greatest day of my life. Even though I am a Roman centurion and not a Jew, I love the God of Abraham, and I longed to learn more about this Jesus whom the entire territory is talking about.

When the angel appeared to me and told me about a man named Simon Peter who was staying in Joppa, I hoped that this was the same Peter who was the great apostle of Jesus. I sent messengers to ask him to come here to Caesarea.

When he entered my house I was overcome. I fell to my knees, but he lifted me up and said, “I too am only a man.” So this was Peter. He possessed great power, and a quiet strength born of great suffering. I had prayed that the man whom the angel told me to summon was he. And now this legend, this man whose faith Jesus said he would build his church upon, was standing in my home.

And a Jew! Standing in the home of a Gentile! We were all in shock. As it turns out, he had just had a vision himself, just before my messengers arrived in Joppa. In his vision he saw animals of every kind, clean and unclean, and then God told him that all food was “clean,” and good to eat.

Everything we thought we knew about God has been turned upside down! From now on, the Jews don’t need to keep kosher dietary laws any more, and we Gentiles can be part of God’s salvation even though our men aren’t circumcised! Peter said, “I begin to see that God shows no partiality.”

And, one by one, we all began to see it too.

In what ways have you learned that God loves all people?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

1 May 2021

Reflecting on John 15: 1-8

Can you imagine what you would look like if everything in your life that wasn’t bearing fruit got pruned away? I’d be a scarecrow.  I’ve got boxes of book ideas that have never seen the light of day. I’ve got the most well-meaning projects— scrapbooks, video memories, clothes I’m going to fit back into—that sit in mute witness against me every time I open the closet and the drawer.

But today I think you should take inventory of all the things that ARE bearing fruit in your life. You’ve stayed faithful to your parish community. You’ve read, and studied, and stayed apprised of the readings for Mass. You somehow kept your families together during the pandemic. Nobody starved (I’m assuming). You stayed close with, and available to, your kids and grandkids, your siblings and parents, even if you couldn’t see them in person.

Think of the people you know who bear much fruit—literally. I’m thinking of the people who stock the produce section of the grocery store. I always compliment them on how fresh and delicious the fruits and vegetables look. I’m always touched at how much pride they take in their work. Being close to the vine every day produces a holy person, I think.

A lifetime of conscious participation in the life of the Church keeps us bearing fruit too. I know so many people whose good works haven’t slowed down during the shutdown. In fact, people who were already “doing too much” doubled their efforts to get food to the hungry, and to show love in a thousand ways.

And love, said St. Teresa of Calcutta, is a fruit in season at all times.

How is God glorified through the fruit of your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

24 April 2021

Reflecting on John 10: 1-18

Is anybody besides me worried that, once the pandemic is officially over, and the restaurants, and schools, and libraries, and gyms are all back to the Roaring Twenties, our churches won’t recover the numbers they had before?

I’m worried that it was so easy to stay home on Sunday and worship virtually that, once the virtual Masses are no more, the staying home will remain. With all my heart I hope not, because the Good News is that we have SO MUCH that the world needs, now more than ever.

As we all emerge from the darkness of shutdown into the light of traffic, and sports contests, and catching up with family and friends, will we yearn for that spiritual connection with our parishes, with the hymns we sang in community, with the hundreds of vital good works in which every parish engages?

Of course yes. Just this past weekend I saw parishioners I didn’t know before the shutdown. I met them on ZOOM, in classes our parish held as one of its many creative approaches to keeping us connected. It was such fun to meet these new friends in person! There must be dozens of new friends I’ve made through these ZOOM events. We’ve all said we can’t wait to finally meet, face to face (or mask to mask), when this is all over.

What good is there in knowing Jesus, the Good Shepherd, if the sheep don’t come when they hear his voice? The world is desperate for the healing and joy that we sheep can bring to the world in his Name. Let’s all fill our churches again, that the world might live.

How do you hear the Good Shepherd calling you?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

17 April 2021

Reflecting on Lk. 24: 35-48

The Lebanese-American writer Kahlil Gibran had it right, I think, when he spoke of grief. He described death as an incense bead which doesn’t break open until a loved one’s death. Then its perfume fills the room. “Death is the revealer of life,” he said. It’s only at death that the fullness of someone’s life breaks open.

All of a sudden we see them more clearly, and with so much more love (and longing) than we even did in life.

I suspect that happened for the disciples of Jesus. After his horrible death, the fullness of his life, and the meaning of his death, broke open. Now they had the rest of their lives to regret not loving him better, not staying and praying with him in the Garden, not fleeing from the Cross but, instead, staying and dying with him.

Maybe that’s what they were all saying, through their heartbreak and tears, that Easter evening. They may have been remembering, over and over, the precious moments they shared with him in his life, and accusing themselves of the grossest ignorance in not understanding who he was, and to what he had called them.

And then. Two disciples from Emmaus came running into that Upper Room with the most astonishing news. He’s alive! And we recognized him in the Breaking of the Bread! And no sooner had they announced this glorious news than Jesus Himself stood among them. And suddenly, nothing was ever the same again.

Are you longing for a deceased loved one? Imagine them just entering into your room right now. Oh, what endless joy! They are alive.

Trust this vision. Trust Jesus. They are alive.

How do you experience the presence of your deceased loved ones?

Kathy McGovern © 2021

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Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle B

10 April 2021

Reflecting on John 20: 19-31

Thirty years ago my cousin Patty, the purest soul I’ve ever known, was on her way to Marianne Williamson’s class A Course in Miracles in the Bay Area. Stepping off the bus, she was approached by an armed assailant. Doing as she’d been trained to do while living in a dangerous city in dangerous times, she dropped her purse and ran for her life. He shot her in the back anyway. Risen One, where was your MERCY then?

Three weeks ago another young man suffering from mental illness, armed to the teeth with combat weapons he bought legally, murdered ten beautiful humans in a grocery store. Risen One, where was your MERCY then?

Here in Colorado, of course, we’ve lost the Triple Crown. We can’t go to high school, the movies, or the grocery store. Young men suffering from mental illness, but clear-headed enough to plant bombs and hide assault weapons, have stripped us of the slightest veneer of safety we may feel for ourselves or for those we love. O Risen One, where is your MERCY now?

Well, the MERCY is here with us, holding out his pierced wrists and exposing his punctured side. Here, he says to us, touch my wounds. Feel my agony. Now hold out your hands and let me touch yours.

Okay. I’ll take that invitation.  Here, Jesus. Feel my wounds. I can’t look at those darling young faces, those dear older faces, and please, please don’t make me hear one single thing about the people who love them.

He touches my wounds, and holds my bleeding hands, and my broken heart. And we both weep. That’s where the MERCY is now.

Where do you most need to feel God’s MERCY now?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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