Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

24 May 2014

Reflecting on John 14: 1-12

I really liked the movie Heaven is for Real, but of course when I googled it I found all kinds of naysayers.  Atheists found it ridiculous, of course.  Some fundamentalist Protestants are boycotting it because too many of the wrong people, people who had never publicly “accepted Christ as their personal Savior”, showed up in heaven.  Some fundamentalist Catholics are suspicious of the child’s account of his visit to heaven because he doesn’t have vivid memories of seeing Mary there.

I liked the book too, especially the incredulity of Colton’s Methodist minister father and, oddly, the hostility of the congregation toward the four-year-old’s account of his experience.  The most embarrassing kind of Christian, for some, is the one who believes magical things about an actual heaven, and an actual God who rules there.  Sophisticated Christians, in their view, are past all that.

I think the author of the Fourth Gospel, which we call John’s gospel, would like the movie too, especially the end.  Colton’s father Todd asks his grumbling congregation a series of questions.  What is God’s will?  That we love one another.  Why?  Because God is love, and we who abide in love abide in God.  And where is God’s will being done?  On earth as it is in heaven.  That’s a perfect summary of John’s gospel.

Conclusion: Love is the bridge between heaven and earth.   God, says the minister, showed Colton what we all need to know about heaven:  it is love, only and always.  The people we loved on earth are being loved in heaven.

We have not been left as orphans here on earth.  Rather, we are connected, through the Mystical Body, on earth as we are in heaven.

How do you sense your connection with your loved ones in heaven?

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

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

19 May 2014

Reflecting on I Peter 2: 4-9

We’re in the weather disaster season now.  Here in Colorado we are praying that last year’s house-leveling floods won’t pave the way for this year’s melting snowpack to turn into raging torrents in the same areas.

The author of the second reading today knew the shock of seeing his home destroyed too.  Imagine living in Jerusalem about 40 years after the resurrection.  Jewish “zealots”―read terrorists―had ambushed and killed enough Roman soldiers in the late 60s to bring the wrath and military might of the Roman Empire right into Jerusalem.

If you’re ever in Rome, visit the Arch of Titus to see its depictions of the triumphal sack of Jerusalem in 70, and the sacred vessels (and prisoners in chains) brought back to Rome.  The city of Jerusalem was left in flames, and its great Temple was left, as Jesus prophesied, with not one stone standing.

Now imagine this New Testament author standing amid the burning rubble, seeing the cornerstone of the Temple laying in ruins, and coming to this beautiful realization:  Jesus is the Living Stone, the Stone who gives life and meaning to a dying world.  And we are the living stones, the stones who stand in perfect symmetry and intimacy with the Living Stone.

The dead stones of Great King Herod’s Temple are still sitting there, 709,634 days later.  They’ve never been moved.  Meanwhile, the work of the living stones of most religious traditions―hospitals, schools, refugee centers, hospices, charitable work of every kind, companionship with those who are poor, and the preaching of the Good News―gathers momentum and energy every second of every day.

I love being a living stone in a building that will never die.

How do you experience your faith as a living stone?

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

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

10 May 2014

Reflecting on John 10: 1-10

Several years ago, while driving near Shepherd’s Field, a shout went out from some of the pilgrims.  “Stop the bus! There is an actual shepherd! And actual sheep!”  And we all jumped off and took photographs of the bemused shepherds, who must find it odd that strangers find their occupation so fascinating.

That’s how out of touch we are with the rural images which Jesus uses so richly.  By spotting an actual shepherd with actual sheep―and just outside of Bethlehem, no less―we city-dwelling, 21st century urbanites desperate for a connection with Jesus were thrilled to the core.

Who knows how much we are missing when we read the gospels, and Jesus’ beautiful images which were so familiar to his audience, and so unfamiliar to us? And because we miss so much of the shepherd imagery we miss this beautiful piece:  Jesus is not only the Shepherd, but he’s the Gate to the sheepfold too.

That means that Jesus protects us as a devoted shepherd protects his sheep.  Once they are in the sheepfold, he lays down next to the entrance and his body serves as the gate.  If there is danger, his sheep hide behind him.  If marauders do get in the sheepfold, they do it only over the shepherd’s dead body.

We should all experience that kind of love.  We should all know, from the womb, that we are safe.  We should be born into a world anxious to protect and love us.  We should not fear armies gathering at our borders, or bombs, or ferry boats.

The world is a dangerous place.  Hide yourself in Jesus, the Shepherd of your soul.

In what ways do you feel safe in God’s 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

Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

5 May 2014

Reflecting on Luke 24: 13-35

The more I learn about Jesus and his times the more I understand why, even on Easter morning, even after hearing stories about an empty tomb, the disciples of Jesus returned to their home in Emmaus with heavy hearts.

We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel, they told the Stranger who traveled with them.   He didn’t redeem Israel after all.  He didn’t call together an army, he didn’t call down thunder from heaven and make the Romans pay for their unspeakable atrocities.  He didn’t rid Israel of the oppressor. 

What good is a redeemer who doesn’t rid us of the Romans?  Does God not see―does God not care― that they torture and brutalize us, and keep us in desperate poverty?  What good is a redeemer who loves to the end, even loves those who murder him so unjustly?  Who needs a redeemer like that?

We do.

The heavens opened, and angels rolled away the stone.  The tomb was already empty, even though the stone had held it closed until that moment.  Who needs a God like that?

We do.

Our hearts burned within us as the Stranger explained the scriptures to us, but we finally recognized him when he took, and blessed, and broke, and gave the Bread to us.  Who needs a redeemer like that?

We do.

Forever and ever.  Alleluia.

How does your own brokenness help repair the world?

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