Monthly Archives: July 2018

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

29 July 2018

We saw a film the other night that I hope will stay with me for the rest of my life. It’s not available in theatres, but if your diocese offers it as a one-night event, as ours did, do everything you can to get there.

“Outcasts” is a documentary about the work of Franciscan priests in the utterly most broken places on earth. It begins in an AIDS clinic in the Bronx, and follows their work in the slums of Ireland, England, and Honduras. It’s in Honduras that the true courage of their work is most visible, for they minister in the very prison where 330 men died in the Comayagua fire of 2012.

The inmates openly carry weapons in this prison. Despair, rage, and fear are in the eyes of these poor souls. One fifteen-year-old orphan is incarcerated there because he stole for food.

“I ask myself all the time why I want to be in Honduras,” one of the friars says. “And the only answer I have is that Jesus wants to be in Honduras.”

Jesus wants to be wherever we are, and in most parts of the world that means Jesus is with the hungry. “The hand of the Lord feeds us,” says the psalmist today (145). And the hand that the Lord uses to feed the world is yours and mine.

Both scripture stories today, separated by at least seven hundred years, feature the same human experience. People are hungry, and the one sent by God knows how to feed them so they hunger no more. The deepest hunger, said St. Teresa of Calcutta, is for love.

Good news! We can fix that hunger today.

How will you love intensely in order to curb the deepest hunger?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

21 July 2018

Reflecting on Ephesians 2: 13-18

St. Paul sure had a way with words―beautiful, eloquent words. The letter to the church in Ephesus will be read all the way until September, so watch for it every Sunday. It’s the letter about the Church that existed in that earliest Christian century. It’s full of majestic language, and today’s section is some of its loveliest.

The letter touches on issues and themes that would have affected the growing Church AFTER the martyrdom of St. Paul in the mid-sixties. This, along with many other arguments, has convinced many biblical scholars (but not all) that the actual author was probably a secretary of Paul’s, who knew his writing style and the prayerful way he would approach the leadership issues of the late first century.

The letter has always carried Paul’s name, however, because ancient writers had no qualms about naming as author the person who inspired the work.

For the earliest Christians, the gospel was one word: peace. But don’t feel left out because you weren’t alive in those days. Ephesians says, “He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”

We are the ones who are “far off.” Did the writers imagine that, nearly two thousand years later, these words would be read in churches around the world in the summer of 2018? The most singular message of Jesus is still this: peace.

Let this be our “save page” for this summer: a thousand brave rescuers from around the world, working together to lead those twelve boys and their coach out of that cave. That’s peace. Can we let that monumental human achievement change us, and elevate us? Of course we can.

What touched you the most as you watched the world come together with a common purpose?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

16 July 2018

Reflecting on Mark 6: 7-13

It’s that time of year again. Our sweet, gentle priest-friends from Juarez are here in Denver, visiting us and talking in some parishes about their work at the seminary there. They’re staying at the gracious Colorado Vincentian Volunteers (CVV) house downtown, and every single thing anyone does for them is the kindest thing anyone has ever done.

This morning after breakfast I wondered why they weren’t moving. It was time to go off on a little trip to the mountains, but they were each lined up, waiting to give me a hug and a kiss and to thank me for the BEST breakfast they had ever had.

They break your hearts, these guys. They are super educated professors at the seminary there, but they live as simply as their poorest parishioners. When I lined up water bottles for them to carry through the hot Denver streets they were incredulous. A water bottle—with our delicious, clean, safe Denver water–for each of them!

They reminded me of Jesus and his friends. They, too, left on those hot desert roads without any of the comforts we think we need. No water bottle, no backpack, no hotel reservation. The urgency of the gospel compelled them out, away from everyone they knew, into the dangerous byways of the Roman world.

Where on earth does one find such simplicity anymore? I find it in our visitors from Juarez, one of the world’s poorest cities, that continues to produce salt for the earth and light for the world. And, of course, these friends from our southern border brought lovely gifts from their parishes to all of us.

Sometimes I have to turn away; the tears are that close.

Who are the people in your life who remind you of Jesus and his friends?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

7 July 2018

Reflecting on Mark 6:1-6

How many times were you told as a child, and have since told your own children, that true wisdom comes from learning when to keep your mouth shut? That’s a central lesson of our lives, and most of us feel enormous gratitude for the many times we wanted to say something horrible, and didn’t. That’s true maturity, and society functions so much better when people exercise that discipline. Ahem.

But here’s the question: when is it holy and right to speak up? I admit that I congratulate myself every night, when I make my examen, that I showed such maturity in staying quiet in situations where I might have wanted to speak. Hey, I didn’t make any waves. And there go my baptism and confirmation vows, right out the window.

I don’t know how I missed it for years and years, but the actual image of Jesus that emerges now from the distortions of my youth is One who took issue with the religious and political authorities, and those who were profiting because of them. He put his life at risk―and yes, died terribly for it―every time he spoke, when it was so much smarter to stay silent.

Jesus the Prophet broke all the rules. He healed on the Sabbath. He ate with sinners. He touched the “unclean.” He even went into the Temple and discharged those who were cheating the poor. And when he came into Jerusalem the week before his death, he came on a colt, a beast of burden, an animal of peace.  The Romans, of course, entering from the west at that same time, came in on their war horses.

Oh, Jesus. How did we miss you?

How has your image of who Jesus truly is changed through the years?

Kathy McGovern©2018

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

2 July 2018

Reflecting on Mark 5: 21-43

Touch. That might be the most powerful thing we do in this world. The newborn, lovingly held and kissed and touched by mom and dad for the first few years of life, is developing neural pathways of confidence and security that will carry her for the rest of her life.

I wonder why we can’t remember those first years. Playing with my baby niece in the pool the other day, passing her from one adoring family member to the next, I had a flashback of my mom, holding my baby brother in a big towel while the rest of her confident brood splashed and swam laps in the pool.

Marty would join us soon enough, but in that stage of life he needed nothing but the warmth of the sun, and the security of being held by mom. That’s the core of what we all need, isn’t it?

Our Jesus knows that. Imagine that poor woman, “unclean” by every standard, so desperate for healing that she reached out to him just to touch his clothes. She’d been roughly treated by her many doctors, and their touch had only brought more pain. But merely touching the clothes of The Compassionate One healed her immediately.

Jesus could have healed Jairus’s daughter with just a word. I think he traveled to her house because he knew that the whole family needed to be touched by him. And when we hear him say, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” we feel ourselves being touched by him, held by him, through the millennia, through the painful experiences of our lives, right through Mark’s text.

I just felt power go out from him. Did you?

In what ways do you feel the powerful touch of Jesus in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2018