Monthly Archives: July 2021

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

31 July 2021

Reflecting on Eph. 4:17, 20-24

I feel confused when I hear that reading from Ephesians, about putting on a “new self,” as opposed to the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires.

Doesn’t it seem like our “old selves” are what we want to re-capture? Don’t we all long to find again the child who was more interested in playing than eating, more thrilled with a bike ride than a game on the internet, more delighted with the company of actual friends than with the solitude of “friending” on Facebook?

That kind of solitude is not, as the author of Ephesians says, how we learn Christ. Think back. Where did you learn Christ? Was it at school, or in Religious Education class? Was it at home? Many people I know learned Christ on the weekends, when they spent the night with a Catholic friend whose family took him or her with them when they went to Mass on Sundays.

Many of us had every possible opportunity to learn Christ, growing up in “Catholic ghettos” where all the kids celebrated their sacraments together. We had Catholic books and Catholic sacramentals in our homes.  We learned to pray for each other, and have kept up that discipline all our lives.

But many generations of those who “learned Christ” have found themselves, over time, marooned in a world that has somehow un-learned him. How do we help those who long to know him again? Well, keep acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8). By exercising that behavior every day, our own “new selves” grow stronger, and the radiance from that witness can be Class 101 in Jesus University.

What does it mean to you to “learn Christ”?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

24 July 2021

Reflecting on John 6:1-15

The Catholic Church has a “tell. That’s a gambling term that means a soft spot, a giveaway. No matter how much of a “poker face” the player maintains, there will be something—a lowering of the eyes, a slight smirk, a twitch of an eyebrow—that telegraphs oh boy, have I got a great hand.

The Catholic Church has a “tell,” and we don’t even try to hide it. We will talk about the Eucharist every single chance we get. We love it, we need it, we celebrate it every single day of the year. (Well, we were SUPPOSED to fast from the Eucharist on Good Friday, but that didn’t last too long before the rites included bringing the reserved Eucharist from Holy Thursday to believers for reception.)

Catholics simply will not be without the Eucharist, even when there is no Mass, as on Good Friday. I love the way Fr. Terrance Klein  explained the reception of Communion on that day. When speaking of the ONE DAY that is the GREAT THREE DAYS of the Easter Triduum, he said: We pause in time. Christ does not. Christ carries all of time within himself.

Enter Mark’s gospel. At sixteen chapters, it’s by far the shortest of the four gospels. Sure, there could have been enough to lovingly linger over through the 34 weeks of Ordinary Time, but hey! Here’s an idea! When we cycle into Mark’s (short) gospel every three years, let’s break in for a five-week reflection on the EUCHARIST in the summer!

What a good idea! So we now segue over to John’s gorgeous Bread of Life discourse for the next five weeks. Why? Because boy have we got a good hand.

Do you know where your First Communion picture is? This is a good month to display it.

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

17 July 2021

Reflecting on Jeremiah 23: 1-6

The assault of Nebuchadnezzar’s army on the citizens of Jerusalem in 597 BC was, until the Holocaust, certainly the greatest horror ever afflicted upon the Jewish people. A third of the population died by fire, a third by the sword, and a third were taken away in chains, to be marched 1700 miles to Babylon.

Jeremiah, who had the terrible burden of witnessing this siege, must certainly have thought, “how did this happen?’ and “who didn’t do their job along the way, that this could happen to us now?” His answer was bitter: it was the religious and civil leadership of Jerusalem that failed us, for years and years. Woe to those shepherds.

Watching the videos of the collapse of the condominium complex in Florida, and trying to imagine how this could possibly have happened, we feel like Jeremiah.

Whose fault is this? How did an event like this happen in our own rich country? We’ve heard the answers, but no matter how we try to distance ourselves, a deep disturbance is rising within us. Something is very wrong.

Every city in our wealthy country is now faced with encampments on the street and in neighborhoods. How did we lose our way? How can we recover the bright hope of decades past?

Jesus gets this. He’s trying to help his travel-weary disciples get some rest from the crowds surging around them, but the people simply run ahead to meet them.

Jesus understands that something has gone terribly wrong. The basic needs of the people have not been met.

Understanding that HE is their most basic need, he takes the time to teach them many things. Finally, something has gone terribly right.

What do you long to have Jesus teach you?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

10 July 2021

Reflecting on Mark 6: 7-13

This gospel always transports me to that memorable summer when I did the obligatory ten weeks’ European vacation with some friends. That was the Age of Aquarius, right, when twenty-somethings took off for Europe in droves, wearing Birkenstocks, and carrying enormous backpacks that we cluelessly unloaded on the seats next to us on the train.

It’s one particular week in Greece that I especially remember. We had no money, naturally, for a hostel or hotel room, so we slept on the couches of the lobby of an ancient hotel that didn’t bother to lock the doors at night.

Every hot, sticky morning, we awoke with the cats of the neighborhood sleeping on our stomachs or backs. We all languidly stretched, licked our lips, and the cats went out in search of milk while the humans searched for coffee. Ah, the sixties (which actually extended well into the seventies).

I’ll bet those disciples, sent out with no food, no backpack, and no money, slept in far worse conditions than those. They probably didn’t have to, since they could have taken money for lodging, but it was the very fact that they had no provision that prompted those they visited to care for them.

There must have been deep conversations as they all fell asleep together. Can you imagine having one of the actual eyewitnesses to Jesus staying at your house? If they had had their own food, their own extra clothes, their own money for lodging, they wouldn’t have needed their gracious hosts. And the gospel might have never moved out of the Galilee.

The Sisters who taught us back in those Sixties carried nothing. I think I get it now.

How can you get back to a more simple lifestyle?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

3 July 2021

Reflecting on 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

This is the eighth Sunday in a row in which we’ve read from 2 Corinthians, and I’m so glad we conclude today with my favorite phrase from that entire letter: My grace is sufficient for you (12:9). I must remind myself of that promise a few times every day, and it’s true every single time.

Now, there were times where I experienced grace in droves—tons and tons of it. And there were a few times—getting further and further in the rearview mirror, thank God—when the only grace I could cling to was that exact scripture, hanging under a photograph on my bedroom wall. It became my mantra, and, over time, the grace I begged for visited me again.

I suppose it depends on what the word “sufficient” means. Today, healthy and strong, sufficient grace means the grace to meet the world with competence, preparation, and prayer. Many, many years ago, sufficient grace meant enough strength to breathe. I need more grace, I told God. My grace is sufficient for you, the poster on the wall replied. Just barely, I returned. Just barely.

It’s possible that some dear reader out there today is hanging on by the barest thread of grace. Maybe it’s a terrible physical illness. Maybe it’s a terrible loss. Maybe it’s despair. It’s possible that some reader has already begged God for more grace already today. Okay, Church, let’s do this:

Imagine that person. God knows who it is, so we don’t have to. Pray for sufficient grace for him or her. As Elizabeth said to Mary at the Visitation, “Happy are you who believed that the promise of the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45).

Do you need more grace today? Expect that you are included in this prayer.

Kathy McGovern ©2021