Monthly Archives: November 2017

Solemnity of Christ the King – Cycle A

25 November 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 25: 31-46

Christ my King, these are the things I’ve seen lately, things that brought your parable of the Last Judgment to my mind:

  1. I saw an exhausted mom clean up her toddler’s spilled milk with a laugh and a kiss.
  2. I saw hundreds of parishes donating gift cards so under-served families could shop for the foods they eat at Thanksgiving.
  3. I saw my husband graciously forego a beer and the game in order to help a friend.
  4. I saw an elderly ex-convict walk off the streets and into a warm counseling center.
  5. I saw a new apartment complex open that provides permanent shelter for those who were once living on the street.
  6. I saw extraordinary young people accompanying Syrian refugees to safety.
  7. I saw sweet kids from around the country organizing fundraisers for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Christ, my King, they didn’t know it, but they did each of these beautiful things for you.

But this week I also saw the effects of greed and power and selfishness and “me first-ness” wreak heartbreak and devastation all over the globe.

We did that to you, oh Jesus. You should have said something.

You should have said, “Hey! That’s me you’re leaving out in the cold, me you’re neglecting, me you’re forcing into three minimum-wage jobs a day.”

You should have said something, Jesus. We just didn’t see you.

Where have you seen Christ in his “most distressing disguise” recently?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

22 November 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 25: 14-30

Well, we did the best we could. We stayed faithful to the Church into which we were baptized. We joined groups and took scripture classes. We extended our arms to the needy. We served on Parish Council. But―ahem―who is going to take our place? Where did the younger generations go? How did two generations of young people just leave without our really noticing?

I recently attended a parish mission led by Dr. Eileen Burke-Sullivan. Talking about our nostalgia for the bulging churches of the fifties and early sixties―and I confess that I still long for what I remember as the vibrant Church of those days―she said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Even if we could somehow go back to those days right now we wouldn’t find Jesus there. He is where we are, and we don’t live there anymore. We are alive today, in 2017.”

Somehow, despite our best efforts―or maybe some lukewarm efforts―the investments that we made with the “talents” given us to pass on a robust and vital Church have not made a very impressive return.

Recall what St. John Paull II said on the subject: We are not on earth to guard a museum, but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life.

Unlike the Master who left on a journey, Jesus never left us. But he did entrust his Church to us. Yes, the culture that used to carry the faith is gone. But do we really believe that Christ can’t heal and save and draw people to himself in 2017? This is the age in which we live. But Jesus Christ is Lord from age to age. That’s a truth none of us must bury in the ground.

How do you keep investing in your parish?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

12 November 2017

Reflecting on I Thessalonians 4: 13-18

Have you imagined your death? It’s hard to do. We can imagine, perhaps, our funerals, and even the illness that will finally do us in. But truly imagining that last breath in our waking state seems as rare as dying―actually hitting the ground after falling from a tall building― in our dream state. The sub-conscious resists it mightily.

The truth is that, somehow, we think we’ll be around to read our own obituaries. We haven’t worked out exactly how that will happen, but humans live in a cognitive dissonance about our own deaths.

St. Paul was a “baby Christian” when he wrote his first letter to the Philippians. This was very early in his own life as a believer, and he was writing to relieve the anxieties of other new Christians.  Apparently a rumor had started that Jesus had already returned, and that those who died before his return (or didn’t happen to live in Jerusalem) had missed the Second Coming and wouldn’t experience heaven.

What a terrible rumor. Paul’s detailed assurance about how the “end times” would occur―and he surely believed this would happen before he himself died―was meant to assure this community that the God of the Universe would find them, even if they died before Christ came to earth again.

In less than twenty years, St. Paul and St. Peter were both martyred in Rome. It wasn’t until the leaders of the Christian faith were actually gone that the realization sunk in that the Second Coming may not be any time soon. That’s when St. Mark began to write down what would become the earliest gospel. The Second Coming was delayed, yes, but the Good News had just begun.

How are you preparing for your death while living an abundant life?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

 

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

4 November 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 23: 1-12

In my world, the humble are everywhere, and they intend to stay that way. I wish I knew any arrogant people (personally) so that I could imagine them being humbled. But all around me I have the exact opposite demographic.

On Facebook my humble friend politely asks if someone is available to serve at the Senior Shelter this week. In a parish, the list of those willing to bring meals to those who are homebound nearly exceeds the numbers who need that service. The endless goodwill and ingenuity of the many people I know who work to relieve suffering in the world isn’t just inspiring; it changes my heart.

Now, I do have two friends who will generally talk about their outreach to the many different organizations they find time to serve. I wish more people did this. Keeping silent about your generous gift of time with your grandkids, or your weekly visits to the nursing home, or the childcare you provide for families who are trapped in low-income jobs, robs the rest of us of the opportunity to be challenged away from our Netflix comfort zone.

I love hearing people talk about the different ways they have found to help the world. If that’s bragging, then bring on the braggarts! We need their stories and their witness desperately. I imagine heaven as just more of the same: loving people spending eternity loving people. But I don’t want to be on the outside looking in, wondering why no one ever mentioned to me that they were doing the very things that never occurred to me to do because the people doing them were too humble to tell me about  them.

What surprises have you had recently when finding out about the good works of others?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

3 November 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 22: 34-40

My friends Jen and Paul have ADORABLE four-year-old twins, and were surprised and thrilled to welcome hilarious Max two years ago. Then, one month ago, they arrived home from the hospital with―you guessed it―a second pair of twin boys. Yes, that’s five kids under four.

Sophia cried at first when she realized she was now surrounded by brothers, but her twin, Lucas, consoled her with this: Don’t worry, I’ll bet the next time mommy has twins it will be girls. Mm-hm.

The happiest place on earth is their living room couch, where the babies sleep and the three “older” kids snuggle up for stories. Even though their picture bible doesn’t tell the terrible King Herod story, Sophia and Lucas know it, and today they are telling me everything they would do to protect Baby Jesus from the awful king.

“If Baby Jesus was over here,” says Lucas, “and King Herod asked me where he was I’d point the other way and say, “he’s over THERE.” And Sophia adds, “And I would never, ever let him find Baby Jesus. Jesus is nice, and King Herod is mean.”

They’re utterly addicting, these five beautiful children, and their hearts are the perfect shape for Jesus. They remind me of a line from the prayer that every Jew is required to pray each morning and evening, and the line that Jesus, the perfect Jew, recited for the scholar of the law: You shall love the Lord with your whole heart and soul and mind.

It’s not hard at all, loving God with everything we have. We just have to find our four-year-old selves again, so ready to love God with everything we are.

Is there a time of day when you feel closest to loving God with your whole heart and soul and mind?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

 

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015