Monthly Archives: March 2024

Easter Sunday – Cycle B

30 March 2024

Reflecting on John 20:1-9

Why didn’t everyone living in Jerusalem see the Risen One after his resurrection?  Acts says: Godgranted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us…(10: 40-41). I know that if I had seen Him hanging on the cross that awe-full Friday, I would have felt cheated that he didn’t appear to me, RAISED and RADIANT, that glorious Sunday.

Even Peter and the Beloved Disciple, after racing to the tomb, left without actually SEEING Jesus. It was only Mary Magdalene, whose story follows today’s gospel in John 10: 11-18, who actually saw him, and at first even she mis-took him for the gardener.

Balaam, the famous “seer,” couldn’t see God’s huge angel right there in the road (Nm. 22). And Elisha’s servant couldn’t see God until Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes to see the hills full of angelic chariots all around (2 Kgs. 6:17).

Most telling of all, Jesus’ own disciples spent Easter Sunday on the road with him and didn’t recognize him until the Breaking of the Bread (Lk. 24: 13-35). Jesus eventually appeared to over five hundred believers, according to St. Paul, who admits he got the story from Peter (I Cor. 15: 5-8). We have seen the Lord! they cried with joy. Lucky them.

But maybe he HAS appeared, to everyone who longed for him that day, and the billions who have longed for him since. Maybe we have felt his Presence, and sensed his nearness, countless times in our lives.

So let me ask you: who was that with you, in the Delivery Room, on your First Communion Day, at the graveside of a loved one? Ah. Of course. Lucky you. You have seen the Lord.

Where do you look for the Risen Lord these days?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – Cycle B

23 March 2024

Reflecting on Phil. 2: 6-11

You probably didn’t realize it, but in the Philippians reading this weekend we heard perhaps the oldest hymn in Christendom. Certainly the earliest Christians sang the psalms every day, and probably even a musical version of the crossing of the sea on holy days in the Temple. But Paul’s recitation of the hymn of kenosis―the self-emptying―of Christ on the cross suggests he knew that this beloved hymn was being sung by the Church at Philippi, which was the earliest Christian community in Europe.

Perhaps it was the On Eagle’s Wings of the first century―a well-known hymn that everyone could probably sing by heart with a little help. But why did Paul choose to include it in his letter? I wonder if its beautiful prelude is a key: though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at.

Paul, that super-educated Jew, that Pharisee who studied with the greatest rabbi of his day, that tri-lingual missionary par excellence, eventually admits in this letter that all of that perfect pedigree is just “worthless refuse.”  The only thing that matters is that he gain Christ, and be found in him.

Let this mind be also in you, he writes. Don’t compete with each other. Don’t think that whatever status you hold in the world means anything in the kingdom of God. Christ, who was God, chose to take the form of a slave. So it must be with you.

Our western culture is crazy for fancy letters behind our names. Somehow that means we have accomplished something. But at our deaths we only need three letters: F.I.H.

Found in Him.

In what ways are you making sure you are found in him?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Fifth Sunday of Lent – Cycle B

16 March 2024

Reflecting on Jeremiah 31:31-34

There are two commandments. The first is the exterior commandment, imposed by exasperated parents: don’t hit your brother. That law lasts as long as it takes mom or dad to leave the room, and then all manner of hitting resumes.

The interior law comes later, hopefully, and it forms inside our own hearts: Don’t hit my brother. It hurts his feelings, and makes me feel terrible. The reward for observing both those laws comes later still: warm, honest, loving relationships among siblings, long after their parents have gone to God, with Easter tables filled with loving aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.

There are other exterior laws which are broken every day, sometimes with a terrible cost. Drive the speed limit. Don’t drink and drive. But it’s only when we internalize those laws, and truly reckon what our lives would be like if we killed someone because we violated those laws, that the likelihood of us ever breaking our interior rule to observe safe driving is very, very small.

The exterior commandment is to not bear false witness against your neighbor. But the interior commandment, which forms in our hearts over time, is to not pass on any kind of gossip at all, true or not. That’s the hard one, but, since gossip kills, we learn to treat gossip like a gun, and we train ourselves internally to never arm ourselves with such a deadly weapon.

Jeremiah knew that the Law Moses brought down from the mountain was only effective if it was written in our hearts. And how do we know it’s written there? If we know that God has forgiven us. If you still feel judged, who’s doing the judging?

Have you ever confessed to breaking one of your interior rules?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Fourth Sunday in Lent – Cycle B

9 March 2024

Reflecting on Chronicle 36:14-16, 19-23

What an ironic moment in history, when King Cyrus the Persian overtook the mighty Babylonians. Do you remember that scary story about the banquet that King Belshazzar hosted? He had all the sacred vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem brought in so he, and his wives, and consorts, and concubines, and consorts could drink wine in them. What a travesty!

But then, Suddenly… the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace. Everyone was struck with terror. Finally, someone called for Daniel, the famous Jewish man who had been brought to Babylon in his youth. He knew immediately what the writing meant:

You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. King Belshazzar died that very night, the invading Persians routed the Babylonians from the land, and King Cyrus took power (Daniel 5).

The Jews, held in captivity for fifty years, must have rejoiced to see their enemies vanquished. But listen! King Cyrus said the most astonishing thing. He admitted that God had given everything to him, and even charged him to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem! And then, this most astonishing sentence: Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him” (2 Chronicles 36:23).

And thus began the great journey home, and the long task of rebuilding the Temple and their homes. All because the one they thought was their enemy turned out to be a greater friend than many of their own prophets and kings. Isn’t that sometimes the way? This Lent, ask for the grace to see the gifts your “enemies” might be giving you.

What is God saying to you through your “enemies”?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Third Sunday in Lent – Cycle B

3 March 2024

Reflecting on John 2: 13-25

I always get a chill when I read the last lines of today’s gospel: Jesus knew human nature well.

Oh, dear. What do you know about us, Jesus? Since you were absolutely human, did you share in the nature of our deep human need to protect those we love?

When you wept over Jerusalem, you cried that you longed to gather her children as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but they were not willing to be gathered (Mt. 23:27).

And when the soldiers of the high priest came to arrest you in the Mount of Mount of Olives, you asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” And you answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go” (John 18:8).

And, in Matthew’s account of this same event, when the men stepped forward, seized you and arrested you, one of your companions (and we know from John’s gospel that it was Peter) “reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.”

 “Put your sword back in its place,” you said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Mt. 26: 51,52). 

And it’s Luke, of course, who gives us the rest of the story, which shows your compassion for ALL people, even though arresting you and taking you to your terrible death: “Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him” (22:51). 

Ah! That’s the human nature we long for, Jesus. The nature that forgives, and heals, and puts our swords away. Gather us, Jesus. We are willing.

How are you working to heal gun violence in our country?

Kathy McGovern ©2024