Monthly Archives: April 2024

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

27 April 2024

Reflecting on John 15:1-8

Can you imagine what you would look like if everything in your life that wasn’t bearing fruit got pruned away? I’d be a scarecrow. I’ve got the most well-meaning projects—scrapbooks, video memories, letters I’m going to answer—that sit in mute witness against me every time I open the drawer.

But today I think you should take inventory of all the things that ARE bearing fruit in your life. You’ve stayed faithful to your communities. You’ve read, and studied, and stayed apprised of the readings for Mass. You somehow keep your families together, when the world does everything to separate them. You stay close with, and available to, your kids and grandkids, your siblings and parents, and all that takes a lot of energy and work. And love.

Think of the people you know who bear much fruit—literally. I’m thinking of the people who stock the produce section of the grocery store. I always compliment them on how fresh and delicious the fruits and vegetables look. I’m always touched at how much pride they take in their work. Being close to the vine every day produces a holy person, I think.

A lifetime of conscious participation in the life of the Church keeps us bearing fruit too. I know so many people whose good works seem to grow with each passing year. As I write this, my dear friend Mary Frances, whom I met in high school, is in Colombia, presiding over representatives from 13 countries, all of whom have dedicated their lives to serving those who are poor. And in Spanish, no less! How did she get THERE? Through bearing fruit, a little each day. And love, as St. Teresa of Calcutta reminded us, is a fruit in season at all times.

How is God glorified through the fruit of your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

20 April 2024

Reflecting on John 10: 11-18

Here’s the problem: The GOOD shepherd, the one who loves to the ends of the earth, often meets a terrible and violent death. Jesus knows this. He knows that wolves run in packs, and if the good shepherd tries to protect the sheep from the wolves, the shepherd may well be killed.

Jesus met the death that awaited many good shepherds throughout history. Hunted down by packs of ravenous humans, hungry for revenge, bribed by corporations, fueled by ignorance, caught in the cancers of culture and contempt, the history of the Church is the history of martyrs. Jesus tells us, early in John’s gospel (10:11-18), that he will be martyred for us.

But good shepherds don’t need to be martyred to be inspirations. I recently met a young violinist from Montreal. Asked if he knew the story of the famous St. André Bessette, a monk who devoted his entire vocation to answering the door at the monastery in Montreal, he said, “No, in Montreal we have huge devotions to St. Joseph.”

“Aha!” I said. “Then you do know St. André! He’s the one who spread the devotion to St. Joseph all through Canada.” That’s a good shepherd. St. André was so beloved in Montreal that over one million people processed by his casket, kissing it and touching it, and sharing stories about the love with which he answered the door.

GOOD shepherds lay down their lives in little and large ways. Take you, for instance. I’ll bet you lay down your life many times a day. You don’t realize it, but through the humble witness of your life, like St. André, you are spreading devotion to Christ everywhere you go.

Who have been the good shepherds in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

13 April 2024

Reflecting on Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19

What torment the Jewish audience must have felt when Peter, shaking with the joy of the Risen Christ, addressed them in the Temple. He and John had JUST raised up a crippled man in the name of Jesus Christ, and he was now in the Temple, “walking and  jumping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).

Now those astonished Israelites listened as Peter upbraided them for their complicity in the passion and death of the very NAME who had just healed that crippled man, whom they had seen begging at the Temple gate for years.

How it must have stung to hear Peter say, “Now I know that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did” (vs. 17).

That’s the sentence that should land, like an arrow, in our own hearts. Is there any one of us who has not narrowly escaped a life-altering experience which we created out of ignorance, or arrogance, or just dumb youth?

I remember one day from my twenties. Not accustomed to alcohol, I’d been out for “happy hour” with some friends from work. After only one drink I was definitely impaired, but didn’t realize it until I was driving home. I very nearly escaped hitting the car in front of me. Terrified, I pulled into a parking lot and stayed there for at least an hour. Only a few blocks from home, I crept up side streets to my house. I fell on my knees in thanksgiving.

O merciful God, thank you that you have rescued us from our ignorant behaviors. We ask for your merciful Presence in the lives of those whose ignorance has ruined their lives, and the lives of those they’ve hurt.

When did you act out of ignorance, only to fall on your knees in repentance?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle B

6 April 2024

Reflecting on John 20: 19-31

Many years ago I heard an astonishing confession of a friend of mine who was a diocesan priest. Around Eastertime, he admitted that, early in his priesthood, he hadn’t believed in the resurrection. He tried everything, prayed with his spiritual director, consulted all the latest books about it, but his heart was hard. He just couldn’t believe.

He proceeded with ordination, never disclosing this wrenching ache. He kept this secret quiet, of course, until the grace of the Spirit removed any doubt that Jesus rose from the dead. In later years, he willingly shared with those coming to the Church for baptism and full initiation how vehemently he had struggled with the central tenet of our faith.

He had trusted that a faithful priesthood would bring him the grace to believe, and he was right. He was a powerful and effective pastor for many years. There were decades of glorious, faith-filled Easters in his priesthood, each with grateful Elect, whose faith had been stronger than his in the early years.

I think of him this Divine Mercy Sunday. He was a quiet dissenter, not nearly as open as Thomas about his doubts. Thomas stands as a great example of an insider whose own faith struggle did not ostracize him from the group.

He was one of the Twelve, but he refused to believe in the resurrection! Still, he remained in community, eating and praying with those with whom he had lived and traveled for three years.

Today is the day to ask for Divine Mercy for all the dissenters among us, that they would NEVER feel unwanted, or “less than” those whose faith hasn’t been challenged in hard ways.

Are there parts of the Creed with which you struggle?

Kathy McGovern©2024