Monthly Archives: May 2019

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

26 May 2019

Reflecting on Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29

Decisions. I hate them. I run from them, and put up every kind of smokescreen to keep from making them. That’s hugely frustrating for the people who have to work and live with me, and the truth is I would never decide at all if I weren’t eventually shamed into it.

The earliest Christians engaged in a history-changing discernment in 50 AD. This momentous decision regarded who would be admitted into the emerging Christian community. That was the decision for the ages.

How did they discern what restrictions to lay on those Gentiles who were asking to be admitted to their community? Certainly the Jewish Christians (like Mary, the mother of Jesus!) still considered themselves Jews, observed the kosher laws, and worshipped in the synagogue. But what to do about the burgeoning number of Gentiles who were hearing the Word through the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas? Shouldn’t they observe everything the Jews observe, including, for men, circumcision?

St. Paul said, “No!” The more conservative Jews in Jerusalem said, “Yes!” You can imagine the televised debates and internet sniping that would go on today. But the Holy Spirit filled this infant Church with an open heart.

A Council was called. The problem was set out. Then experience was called upon. Paul talked about the huge response to the gospel in the Gentile lands. Peter told the remarkable story of the conversion of the family of Cornelius, the Gentile centurion (Acts 10) that changed his mind about who’s in and who’s out.

Experience and compassion ruled the day. The Church spread like wild fire. Imagine a Church without Gentiles like St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Teresa of Calcutta. And you.

What experience have you had that changed a conviction you used to have?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

18 May 2019

Reflecting on John 13: 31-33a, 34-35

I hope you feel that you are abiding in love. If you don’t, it’s time to check the baptismal certificates of those around you. That’s right. Jesus could not have been clearer. By THIS the world will know we are his own, by the enormous amount of LOVE we pour out into the world.

Maybe we can’t define love, but we sure know it when we feel it, don’t we? I’m surrounded by disciples. Because of that I’m practically drowning in love.

How do you measure the way love sustains your life? Let’s take Sunday, for example. When you attempt the Daytona 500—otherwise known as the church parking lot—do your fellow worshipers smile and wave you ahead, while they take the next spot down? (And—ahem—do you make this same kind gesture for others occasionally?)

When you come into church, are you warmly welcomed? My husband Ben and I happened to be in Miami on Holy Thursday and visited a church there. Two people rushed to open the doors for us, and others scrambled to smile at us, greet us, and take us up to the front section. After Mass people couldn’t stop smiling at us. We were visitors, and they were just so happy to have us. How perfect to feel that much love with a community that has just celebrated the washing of feet.

Here’s the thing: love is what changes us for good. Other experiences teach us, and make us better at what we do. But love is what Christ gives us, and so it’s what we must give. Love for the life of the world. And no, not just for some…but for everyone.

How are you giving what the world needs now so much?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

11 May 2019

Reflecting on Acts 13: 14, 43-52

He did it again. Every week I read several commentaries to help me reflect on the Sunday readings, and once again the great John Kavanaugh, SJ has opened the most beautiful and insightful window into today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

What does it mean that “all who were destined for eternal life” (13: 48) came to believe? What did Barnabas and Paul know about eternal life? How could they know anything, since they were still alive, in bodies that were directed by brains that would die, which would then signal the death of their bodies? In other words, if you are brain dead, how do you experience any life?

Father Kavanaugh puts it this way:  “How can an ‘after’ life have any continuity with this life when all our experience is so brain-based? Our memories, our joys, the delights of every sense, the faces of our loved ones all seem so inseparable from this world and our bodies.”

Even though Christians believe in the resurrection of the body, what kind of bodies will they be, once they are separated by time and space? Kavanaugh offers this delicious question: imagine that all the babies born today could talk to all the babies still in the womb and give them this good news: life is even better outside the womb! I know it seems like only death outside, but “the new world beyond your womb is connected to what you are right now, but it is wondrously different! All the gifts you have are only glimmers of what they will become!”

You successfully made it through your birth. Trust God that this life is only a shadow of what awaits.

What insights into eternity have you gained this Easter?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

10 May 2019

Reflecting on John 21: 1-19

Even though it’s nowhere in scripture, tradition says that Peter, when an old man, was dragged away and crucified. Because he did not feel worthy to receive the same death as his Lord, Peter asked to be crucified upside down. Scripture never tells us where or when this took place, but the author of John’s gospel certainly knows about it, because he says that Jesus’s words to Peter ­­­­the day will come when you will be led where you do not want to go­­­ signified by what kind of death Peter would glorify God.

Peter was probably martyred by Emperor Nero in Rome in the mid-60s, AD. The origin of the tradition of him being crucified upside down is unknown. But his death HAS glorified God, hasn’t it, all these centuries? Hasn’t the image of Peter begging to endure a more humiliating death than even Jesus endured been a source of inspiration and strength to you from the day you first heard it?

We don’t have to dance around the facts of the resurrection. The eyewitnesses to the empty tomb, and to the Risen One, didn’t say things like, “Well, he’s risen in our hearts,” or “We feel his Spirit and are strengthened.” That would never be enough to ask your executioners to nail you to a cross upside down.

Peter and all the martyred ones went to their deaths utterly positive that the grave that held Jesus was empty, and that Christ would raise them up with him. The witness­­­that’s another word for “martyr”—of those first believers rings out throughout the ages: He is Risen, and our lives and deaths are meant to give glory to that Name.

What deaths have you witnessed that give glory to God?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle C

10 May 2019

Reflecting on Jn. 20: 19-31

This is the Sunday when I most like to recall the mercies of God throughout this past year. Let me invite you into a similar meditation.

Remembering back, what victories did you have in holding your temper, in holding your tongue, in holding back a savvy “shade” on someone? That’s mercy.

Blessed are those who have not had unkind words spoken to them; more blessed indeed are those who have not spoken unkind words themselves.

What physical challenges have you overcome this year? Did you fall prey to the horrible flu, or the bad colds of this season, or even pneumonia? How blessed are you who were sick and are now well. Even more blessed are those who stayed with you, cared for you, nursed and doctored you back to health. They have shown mercy, and mercy will be shown to them.

How about your prayer life? Did you experience the comfort and companionship of the Holy Spirit as you navigated the depths of Christ’s life in you? Maybe a faith community has welcomed and loved you. For that mercy, in the winter and spring of your days this year, be grateful. Even more blessed are those who have extended that friendship and grace.

I know a little bit about mercy, because I am the endless recipient of it. On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I offer this suggestion. Find the image of Divine Mercy. Stand in front of it. Imagine the healing rays coming from the heart of Jesus pouring straight into whatever part of your body or soul is hurting. Let those rays in. The mercy of the Risen One longs to pour into you.

Jesus, we trust in you.

How can the Divine Mercy of Jesus transform you this year?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015