Monthly Archives: June 2024

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

29 June 2024

Reflecting on Responsorial Psalm 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13

Every time that refrain for the Responsorial Psalm comes up in the lectionary—I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me—I find myself singing it all week. I hope you do, too. I hope you feel rescued.

Just in case you don’t, practice this for a week. Several times a day, notice how you were rescued. Maybe you delayed changing lanes for a second, and then saw that speeding car come tearing down the lane into which you nearly drove.

Maybe you were out for your walk and happened to notice the crack in the sidewalk that wasn’t there yesterday, just before you went careening into it. Maybe you had something gossipy and mean on the tip of your tongue, and you stopped just before spitting it out into the world. Good for you. You grabbed God’s grace, and you were rescued.

Sometimes, the very thing that looks like failure ends up being rescue. Aren’t you glad you DIDN’T end up with your junior-high girlfriend/boyfriend? (But apologies to those who did. Congratulations!)

It causes me to tremble when I think of all the things, terrible or just inconvenient, from which God has rescued me. (Someday I’ll regale you with my medical history.) And you know what? All of those Rescues have built up a history of faith in me, so that when the day comes when, for any reason, I am beyond rescue, I’ll remember that the same God who was faithful to me in the past will be faithful to me as I pass into the valley of the shadow of death.

That’s where the greatest rescue of all is waiting for each of us.

What is your best story about being rescued? Tell someone today. It builds a reservoir of faith.

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

22 June 2024

Reflecting on Mk. 4: 35-41

Is there any silence as palpable as the silence of God? Those disciples in that quaking boat railed against it so much that they were able to wake Jesus, who was serenely asleep during the storm. Sure, he rebuked them and wondered at their paltry faith, but the scolding was worth it. He did, after all, arouse and calm the terrifying sea.

If only we could be in that boat and scream so loud that Jesus would wake and heal all the storms in our lives. If only he would wake from his deep sleep and heal every person we love who needs his healing gaze so much.

I just finished reading Richard Gaillardetz’s stunning memoir of his terminal illness, While I Breathe, I Hope (Liturgical Press, 2024).  Every chapter of the book takes the reader further into the last months of his illness from Stage Four pancreatic cancer. Terrible as his suffering was, he graciously included in each chapter short passages from some of the great Christian writers throughout history. Each of them had wrestled with the silence of God, and each had come to the same conclusion:

In God’s seeming silence, there is the clear voice of the Body of Christ. As my great friend Father Patrick Dolan says, “When we say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, the operative word there is WE.” If the Body of Christ rallies around, supports, prays with, and pulls as hard as it can to release us from the terrors of death, there is Christ in the midst of us.

Find someone who needs your strong, fierce love today. That’s Christ himself, roaring at the sea.

What experience have you had of the Body of Christ standing with you?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

15 June 2024

Reflecting on Mk. 4:26-34

It’s that time of year again, and it shocks me every time. The perennials on the side of our house have come up, with absolutely no effort or attention on our part, dancing in the breeze and saying, “Surprise! We’ve been here all along, just waiting for sunshine and rain!”

I can’t get over how KIND they are to keep popping up, riots of purple and pink, in spite of our profound neglect for the past nine months. Of its own accord the land yields fruit. God has created this brilliant memory in our gardens and fields. Of their own accord they come back, year after year.

Now, all you farmers are nodding, but also vehemently noting that EVERY harvest requires the back-breaking effort of sowing and tilling the grain, year after year.  But still, the wheat secretly grows beneath the winter snow. That’s God’s creative, utterly dependable work. And the rest of our lives are like that, too.

It took seventeen years, but I am finally in remission from my (easy) chronic leukemia. Around the same time, my veins healed from damage done during the original diagnosis all those years ago. And just last week I slipped into a cute pair of summer sandals, after clogging around in orthopedic shoes for a decade.

If given the blessing of time, we’ll see healing in many parts of our lives. Huh, we might say. When did I stop feeling resentful toward that person? Or,  Huh, I can see now why I got that poor job evaluation.  Or even, Huh. When did my cold go away? I didn’t even notice.

It’s God’s great secret, this healing. We know not how.

What healings have you noticed over time?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

8 June 2024

Reflecting on Mk. 3: 20-25

Oh, how those words of the scribes fall on our 21st-century ears.  In our time, the smartest among us are the ones who will NEVER be duped, NEVER send gift cards to phone scammers, because that was way back when we were naïve. We’re smarter than that now.

But let’s be clear: this kind of ‘savvy’ isn’t the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit that Jesus discusses. It’s the intentional hardness of the heart, the stubborn crossed arms, and rolled eyes when the Gospel is proclaimed, the willful hostility and contempt for Jesus, which the scribes model today, that truly blasphemes the Holy Spirit.

The ”wise” can dissect every beautiful piece of scripture and pretend to understand why it has no value for us today. It does call to mind John Milton’s Paradise Lost, when Satan says, terrifyingly, Evil, be thou my good. In other words, hatred is Satan’s reality, and hating us is the fuel for his life. If we reject his hate, we starve him to death.

As always, C.S. Lewis gets it right: “What we see in Satan is the horrible co-existence of a subtle and incessant intellectual activity with an incapacity to understand anything.” We who know all, and compete with each other in cynicism,  are incapable of understanding anything at all.

And now…ahem. We need to talk about that disturbing ending, when his mother and brothers arrived and tried to get him away from the crowd. Here’s my take: it’s not that Jesus wasn’t ready for public ministry. His mother wasn’t ready. But it was too late. She had to watch him attract crowds, which would eventually attract the Romans, and then the cross. She wasn’t ready.

Are there parts of your spiritual life that have slipped into cynicism?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle B

1 June 2024

A few months ago, my primary care doctor asked me why I never have my blood drawn at his office after my appointment, where there’s no line, but instead leave and drive all the way to the downtown clinic, where there’s always a long line.

“Well,” I hesitated, “I just prefer their clinic.” “Hmm,” he said, “is that really all there is to it?” And then I spilled the beans. “Okay, okay. They have a magical phlebotomist there. She somehow looks at my torn-up veins and knows exactly where and how to place the needle. I barely feel it at all! I’d drive anywhere to have her.” And his answer was just perfect: “That’s what I thought. That’s why we hired her here. She’ll be right in.”

Through the years, I’ve encountered a few genuinely gifted phlebotomists, and I always ask them how on earth they knew they’d be good at such a delicate profession. Every one of them has told me that they just knew. It came from some deep instinct about how to tap a vein. There is no greater gift to a patient who has to have frequent blood draws than a brilliant phlebotomist who just instinctively knows how to draw blood.

On this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, I extend my blessings to all those who, like the magical phlebotomists, can painlessly get our blood flowing, and to all who selflessly donate their blood, the carrier of life. This mirrors the spiritual reality of our unity as humans. We are not just one Body but also one Blood.

Happy Feast Day, Church. This is the feast that tells us who we are.

What is your most cherished memory of this feast?

Kathy McGovern ©2024