Monthly Archives: June 2013

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

30 June 2013

Reflecting on Luke 9: 51-62

There is a theory in some circles that the name Nazir—set apart—was purposefully chosen by a clan of Jews, tracing their ancestry to King David himself, who settled in a region twenty miles south of the Sea of Galilee a few years before the birth of Jesus. They named their tiny city Nazareth because they believed that they were royalty, set apart, and that the Messiah would come from their family line.

And of course he did.  But perhaps Jesus was different from what they thought the Messiah would be. The earlier gospels (but not John) reveal an underlying misapprehension of the mission of Jesus on the part of some of his family members.

At the age of twelve he stayed behind in Jerusalem after the festival of Passover while his family left for home.  When his anxious parents returned and found him in the Temple he was astounded that they didn’t know that he must be about his Father’s business (Lk. 2: 41-52).

Around the age of 30 “he left Nazareth and made his home by the sea” (Matt: 4:13).   The gospel of Mark recounts his many miracles there, and that his relatives “set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind’” (3:21).  Later in that chapter, when they arrive and ask to see him, Jesus looks at the crowd and says, “Here are my mother and brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (3: 34, 35).

And now, in today’s gospel, he tells the young man to forfeit his most important family duty and “let the dead bury the dead”.  Jesus relentlessly shocks us with his obsessive desire for each of us to get to heaven, even if it means not fulfilling what our families may see as our more important roles. His mother Mary, who stood at the foot of the cross, understands that perfectly.

What are you leaving behind in order to be fit for the kingdom?

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

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

24 June 2013

Who do you say I am? We’d like to ask that question, wouldn’t we?  We long to hear “beloved friend”, “adored spouse”, “precious family member”, and “irreplaceable, much-admired co-worker”.  Nothing stings more than when people answer that sacred question by naming our faults.  Our sins are not who we are.  At least not to God.

Who do you say the people in your life are? I have friends who have held me up when I couldn’t stand, who have carried me when I couldn’t walk.  And here’s the great truth: once someone has loved you in your helplessness, he or she will always be everything to you.  It won’t matter that their kids don’t go to church, that they never got the family photo albums digitalized, that they brought take-out to the Christmas dinner.  The person who catches you during the free falls of your life is everything to you, and you are theirs forever.

The crazy thing is that the ones who see us in our vulnerability love us as much as we love them.  I think it’s because, in our emptiness, they have entered the broken heart of God.  And that’s a very sacred place, indeed.

Jesus, the God-with-flesh-on, longs to hear from his friends who they think he is.  But I think what he is really asking for is their hearts, their lives, their very selves.  Who do you say I am? It wasn’t until the resurrection, the ascension and the sending of the Spirit that they finally figured it out.

Who do I say he is? The One who catches me every day.  I am his.

Who do you say he is?

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

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

17 June 2013

Last week my husband Ben invited me to join him in the Corpus Christi procession at Denver’s historic Annunciation Church.  As the curious neighbors came out to watch, Ben (with me reluctantly in tow) approached them and asked if they attended church anywhere, and, if not, if they’d ever considered joining Annunciation parish.

It was a wonderful, affirming experience to speak with the warm and kind-hearted people who welcomed us.  One man, however, shocked us.  He waved his hand in the direction of a dilapidated apartment building and said, “Look around you. The Catholic Church doesn’t care about the poor.”

We did look around, and observed three things. At least eighty houses in the neighborhood were renovated in the ‘90s by Annuciation Partners to help low-income families buy their own homes.  Archdiocesan Housing funds the nearby Humboldt Apartments.  And the Sr. Mary Lucy Downey Computer Lab provides free, after-school tutoring space.

That “sinful woman” in today’s gospel got it right.  If you want to show someone how grateful you are to have been forgiven, give water for cleansing, a kiss for greeting, and oil for anointing.  That is, provide a way for working families to buy their own houses, have affordable apartments for those who are poor, and have after-school care tutoring for their kids.

Paul’s words today will always ring true.  We are fit for heaven because our faith in Jesus shapes us for heaven.  But it’s the daily hospitality shown to those who are homeless, struggling, or need help with their math homework that reveals the depth of our gratitude that it is no longer us, but Christ who lives in us.

What acts of hospitality do you perform to express your gratitude to 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

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

10 June 2013
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Reflecting on I Kings 17: 17-24; Luke 7:11-17

I read a good book last month.  Three Weeks with my Brother is a thoughtful and mesmerizing memoir written by Nicholas Sparks. His life story is far more harrowing than I imagined the author of The Notebook had lived.

At ages 37 and 38, Nicholas and his brother Micah took a trip around the world. Their conversation often turned to memories of their childhood.

Growing up in poverty with a sister and two wildly dysfunctional parents, Nicholas and Micah remained faithful Catholics into their early adult years, but the many tragedies that they endured led them to two different conclusions about God’s ability (or willingness) to answer prayer.  Listening to today’s readings, we could ask the same questions.

Why did God allow the widow of Zarepheth’ s only son to die, and then be resuscitated by Elijah? There must have been many grieving families in Israel, but the only son of the widow of Nain Jesus raised up and gave back to his mother.

I think that God wants us to engage in the mystery.  The creator of wonders beyond our galaxy desires that we pray to be healed, that we pray for others to be healed.  Some will be given more years of life, and others will go to God earlier than we so earnestly desire.  Michelangelo’s Pieta images Jesus himself, the only son of his widowed mother, in his mother’s arms after his crucifixion.  God did not save him from the cross.

But the empty tomb stands as an eternal witness that God has complete power over death.  We live as servants to the God who desires that we draw ever more near.

How do you “engage” with 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

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

2 June 2013

Reflecting on I Corinthians 11:23-26

Scripture is endlessly fascinating, and never more so than in today’s reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (11:23-26).  Some passages we hear on Sunday should be accompanied by a trumpet blast, alerting us that something of unique importance to our faith is about to be read.  This is one of them, because it is one of the earliest fragments of Christian liturgical tradition preserved in the New Testament.

So, consider this: here is Paul, NOT one of the Twelve, NOT present at the Last Supper, “handing over” to the infant church at Corinth what Jesus said the night before he died.  How would HE know?  He wasn’t there, yet he gives us the very earliest account of the institution of the Eucharist.  And here’s what’s really interesting: the gospel of Luke, written twenty years later, gives the exact same wording (22:19-20).

What’s the connection?  I think it’s found in an easily-missed sentence in the Acts of the Apostles (11:19), stating that the actual eyewitnesses of Jesus fled to Antioch soon after Pentecost.

At some point Paul moved to Antioch as well, and lived there, with those most devout Christians, for many years.  I think he learned the words that Jesus spoke over the Bread and Cup from the Christians at Antioch, who were already celebrating the Eucharist before Paul arrived.

St. Luke, a member of that faith-filled community a generation later, gives us the exact same words because they WERE the exact same words, faithfully remembered by those who were actually there.  Every once in a while, scripture takes us straight into the living rooms of the very earliest Christians.

What are your earliest memories of the Eucharist?

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