Monthly Archives: September 2012

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

29 September 2012

Reflecting on James 5: 1-6

Last week I had the oddest experience.  I happened to visit the house where I lived for several years with three wonderful friends in the 1980s.  It’s weird, but I actually know the guys who live there now, five (!) sweet young men who are delighted to live in community, praying and working in various jobs in the Archdiocese.

As soon as I walked into the house I was dumbstruck at how TINY it is!  How did four young women ever maneuver in this TINY house for all those years?  And how did we have so many fun parties, and friends for dinner, and a piano, and lots of singing and celebrating?  How ever did we have so much fun for so many years, and seal friendships that have endured for decades, in such a TINY house?

I looked at the guys living there now, happily moving around and making dinner in that TINY kitchen, contentedly making lesson plans and putting on their shoes for a run in nearby Washington Park.  Someday, after they are married and have “moved up” into larger digs, they will say what my friends and I say: the years we spent in that TINY house were some of the happiest of our lives.

In those days everything I owned fit into my small bedroom.  Now I need a whole house and a huge garage to hold my stuff. I think of the letter of James today, and reflect for the millionth time on what a relief it would be to put all my stuff in a big bonfire and let “the flames devour it”.

Do you ever feel that way?

How can you experience the freedom of having less?

As I write this, the father of  my dear friend Jean Haley, who owned that TINY, wonderful house that became home for so many friends for so many years, is struggling in the hospital.  Please remember Ralph Haley in your prayers this week.  He was a Prisoner of War under the Germans and suffered immensely in service to us all during that terrible war, yet returned to marry and be dad to five children who have loved him deeply their whole lives.

For Jean, and Mary Fran, and Diane, and Margaret, and Cindy, and Leslie, and Colette, and Mary, and all the friends who made that tiny house a mansion of love.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

24 September 2012

Reflecting on James 3:16-4:3

If you’ve been feeling unusually at home with the readings lately it’s because we have been hearing the Letter of James.  In some ways it’s a welcome relief to read a letter from the end of the first century that is so accessible to our contemporary western ears.

Where DO the wars and conflicts among us come from? Most of us aren’t in a position to send troops into war, but have we done everything we can to heal a decades-long rift in the family? And that begs a second question: Why ARE all these family enmities allowed to go on and on?  Are we really going to have another Thanksgiving/Christmas season ahead where there will be separate dinners for separate families because siblings haven’t spoken to each other in years?  At what point will grace be invited to the table?

It’s God’s amazing grace that allows us to submit to each other and truly listen to each other purely, peaceably, gently, compliantly, full of mercy and good fruits, without insincerity.

But we don’t work like that.  Unless we’re in boot camp (or singing at the Met) we don’t think we should have to take any criticism or correction. We like all conversations to be easy, and our “true friends” to take our side even when we are wrong.  A word of correction at the dinner table signals a polite silence and early departure.  We can no longer be friends.

The years go by, and the broken families pile up, and September comes and we dread the holidays ahead.  And the ancient Christian community to whom James writes whispers to us through the ages: get over it.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

16 September 2012

Reflecting on James 2:14-18

Nothing makes me laugh harder than being around people who are laughing. Nothing brings me to tears faster than being with someone who is weeping. And nothing stirs my faith like seeing it in action.

It’s that experience of standing during the Communion Procession and listening to people coming forward to receive the Eucharist, singing their hearts out. For me, that says I believe this.

Or, the other day, pondering today’s gospel, I asked a friend, “Who do you say Jesus is?” She looked at me incredulously. He’s my hope. He’s my heart. He’s my Savior. And her beautiful and easy profession of faith said to me she believes this.

But when I observe the endless works of mercy and justice that pour out from the lives of those called by that Name, when I see how compassionately the hungry are fed and the homeless housed by those who love Jesus, I know they believe this.

It seems that every year or so I have a new favorite hymn, a new sacred friend whose lyrics and music bring me deeper into the mystery of God. I find myself hearing it in my head throughout the day, or the lyrics coming to me at odd times.

For several months now I’ve been coming back to Father Pat Dolan’s haunting Prayer of the Body and Blood, which he dedicated to Most Precious Blood parish in Denver.  Father Pat has been pastor of this inspiring faith community for eight years now, but the charism of this Denver parish from its earliest beginning (when the Vincentian priests and Daughters of Charity staffed it) until now has always been of intense and intentional service to those who are poor. The song moves the singer (and the hearer) into a deep reflection of the ways in which grace abounds where love abounds.

Some lifelong Catholics have a hard time articulating who Jesus is to them. They don’t have to. As Father Pat wrote, May serving others serve as our belief.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

8 September 2012

Reflecting on James 2: 1-5

The St. Jerome Mission

They broke our hearts again.  They always break our hearts, with their humility and warmth, and their love of the Catholic faith and la virgen de Guadalupe.

I’m speaking of the six members of a parish in Juarez, Mexico who traveled all night on the bus to come to Denver last weekend.  They had come to celebrate with many of the benefactors of The St. Jerome Mission, a parish center and retreat house just recently completed for their parish in Juarez.  You can see this great endeavor of faith at www.stjeromemission.com

We did all kinds of fun things, including a visit to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where they thrilled to the prehistoric beauty of the rock outcroppings that were home to the Ute tribes in ancient days.  We celebrated the Eucharist twice, once at a Spanish-language Mass where they and the entire congregation sang their hearts out.

Sometimes our bilingual members had to attend to other matters, leaving the rest of us smiling and nodding at each other, unable to converse.  One evening I was overjoyed to remember that this column also appears in Spanish in many parishes!  We all gathered around the computer to scroll through three years of www.lahistoriayusted.com (www.thestoryandyou.com ).   Seeing the artwork that accompanies each Gospel story their eyes lit up with recognition and joy.  Ah. There’s John the Baptist!  There’s Mary Magdalene!

And I thought of today’s letter of James: Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom? Their love of Jesus is as sturdy and enduring as the Red Rocks.  They who have so little shared with us their greatest treasure: a deep and joyful faith.

Are there “riches” that are keeping you from a deeper faith?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

1 September 2012

Reflecting on Deuteronomy 4: 1-2, 6-8

Last week I received a call from the Lost and Found office at the Denver airport, telling me my keys had been found on the grounds outside.  (I had dropped them while getting out of the car there.)  When I arrived, the clerk asked me for some description of them.  I told her about the different keys—what in the world DO they open, I wondered—but she wanted something more definitive.  How about the keychain?  Can you describe it?

Oh good.  I can do this.  Let’s see.  I think it’s red.  Yes, red something.  Maybe with some kind of pattern.  Isn’t that enough for you?  She looked at me with a funny expression.  Do you have the time? Odd that she would ask, with the clock right behind her. I glanced at my watch, then back at her face, then back at my watch again.  Ha!  Of course!  My watch and my keychain are the exact same set. If I would just notice my watchband, right there on my wrist, I could describe my keychain.  But I’m so used to my watch on my wrist that I don’t notice it, even when it’s screaming to get my attention.

Our connection with God is like that. The author of the first reading from Deuteronomy got it right: For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? It’s the nearness of God, closer than our breath, closer than our heartbeat, which we find so hard to access, yet God is never as close as when we call for help.

Call on God today.  Then watch carefully for the things very near to you.  God is there.

In what ways do you sense the nearness of God?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015