Easter – Cycle C

Pentecost Sunday – Cycle C

19 May 2013

A PENTECOST SEQUENCE

Send your fire, oh Spirit.
Not the rubbles of Bangladesh,
Ignited by sin and stirred by indifference.
Not the fires of Syria,
Incinerating the cradle of your church
And suffocating the heart of a people.
Not the fires fanned by drought,
Or a tear- gassed theatre, fire-armed.
Send your mighty winds, oh Spirit.
Not the winds of Sandy,
Collapsing and crippling.
Not the winds of Boston,
Pressure-cooked and cruel.
Not the winds of war,
Putrid and fetid.
No, send your FIRE, oh Spirit,
And like a mighty wind
Tear out the roots of our rage,
Kick out the doors of our bondage,
And plant, once and for all,
Peace that does justice,
And justice that brings peace.

In what ways have the events of this year affected you? What response do you make to the question, “Where was God?”

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Ascension of the Lord – Cycle C

13 May 2013

Reflecting Lk 24: 46-53

A few years ago I made an astonishing discovery.  I glanced at the skin on my hands, and for the first time in my life it occurred to me that my skin has traveled with me all my life, ever since I was knit together in my mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13).  Every seven years my ingenious epidermis has replaced the dead skin cells and replaced them with new ones, over and over again, and all these years I never even noticed.  But without this faithful covering I would have succumbed to germs and infections months before I ever passed through the birth canal.

The eyewitnesses of the Ascension, the ones who heard Christ command them not to leave the city but to wait for the descent of the Holy Spirit, were like the earliest skin covering the embryo of the infant church. On Pentecost, like a mighty wind, that Church, heretofore hidden in fear and wonder, was born into a world like ours—dangerous, cynical, yet covered in the glory of God.

Stephen, that embarrassing martyr who actually stood up to the culture instead of assimilating into it (Acts 7: 55-60) was the baby skin of the new church. Through these two millennia, the epidermis of the church has continually rejuvenated itself through the witness of those who love Him.

This is what Christ desires to be the covering of the church until the end of time: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23). These fruits of the Spirit will remain, and, in God’s time, will get under our skin for good, even to the ends of the earth.

Have you started your Pentecost novena? Pray with millions of Christians every day until next Sunday for the comfort of the Holy Spirit in your life, and the lives of all in your circle of love.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

7 May 2013

Peace.  Oh, how we ache for it.  Didn’t we all ache for Boston, and all our friends who live there, last month?  And didn’t we feel so proud to watch that city show us how it’s done, in unity amid the dazzling diversity of that great city, as they pulled together and saved hundreds of lives?  We are all Bostonians today, if we can stand in their light and share a portion of their spirit.
It’s not just today’s world that is held hostage by terrorists. It helps to know that the Roman occupation of Jerusalem during Jesus’ lifetime made life very unsafe for Jews and soldiers alike.  It was, don’t forget, the Jewish zealots (terrorists) who managed to kill, guerrilla-style, enough soldiers that they brought down the whole wrath of the Roman Empire upon Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  That’s how the Pax Romana really worked.  Visit Jerusalem and marvel at the huge stones of the destroyed Temple, still sitting where they fell nearly two thousand years ago.
And yet, here is Jesus.  Comforting his friends on the night before he dies, he says “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” Oh, how we ache for the peace that Christ gives, the peace that “passeth understanding”.  This is the peace that Jesus somehow dwells in, even as he walks out to Gethsemane.  That’s the only peace that has the power to change us.
Do you need true, gut-deep peace about something in your life?  Ask the Spirit for her indwelling.  Remember how the resurrected Christ, on the day of his ascension, instructed his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Lk. 24:49)?  That was the original novena.  I invite all of us, the thousands of people who read this column today, to join together beginning this Friday and pray together, each in our own ways, through the nine days– novena before Pentecost (May 19th) for that peace. This year I started sending out a note to the three or four people for whom I am especially praying during this worldwide novena. It will be wonderful to hear from you, wonderful readers, in the months to come, about how your particular intentions bore fruit.  There is power in any nine days, at any time of year, when people of good will pray together for peace .  Let’s see what God will do in helping us receive a deep peace as we redouble our efforts for making peace in the world.
If you need some inspiration, here are some Catholic novena sites, but of course people from all backgrounds join together in their own ways to pray for peace during the nine days.  www.praymorenovenas.com/novena-to-the-holy-spirit/ http://catholicism.about.com/od/prayers/p/Novena_HG.htm
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
for Mary and Jim, and Wendy and Riley and Nick, and all whose lives were touched by the events in Boston.
 
What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

28 April 2013

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

Did you see the recent National Geographic special about identical twins? These are people who will never be mistaken for cousins, or even siblings a year apart.  No, identical twins are unmistakable.  By their looks and mannerisms the world knows they belong to each other.

Those of us who belong to Christ should be just as easily identifiable.  Love one another as I have loved you, says Jesus. By this the world will know you are my own.

By this, then, are those who belong to Christ known: by the thousands of charities and schools and hospitals and orphanages founded by people called by that Name (Mt. 25:35,36).  By the forgiveness extended every day to co-workers, family members, and friends by those who remember Christ’s mandate to forgive seventy times seven (Mt. 18:22).  By the day-to-day honesty in the workplace by those who recall that it is better to be poor and walk in integrity than to be rich, yet crooked in your ways (Proverbs 28:6).

It’s a scandal to find a person who was once taken to the baptismal font and baptized into the name of Jesus, and then lives the opposite of Jesus.  The person who is mean, or violent, or unforgiving, or dishonest, or ungenerous had better not be pretending to be living for Christ, for Christ has told us exactly how to live.  In fact, said Gandhi, All the world would be Christian if you Christians were more like your Christ.

I want to live Christ. It’s for that mission that we were baptized.  It’s that simple.  It’s that impossible.  Come, oh Holy Spirit, and show us how to live.

Is there someone you admire for the way they “live Christ”?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

21 April 2013

Reflecting on Revelation 7, 9, 14b-17

It’s only during the seven weeks of the Easter season that we read from the book of Revelation, certainly the least understood book in the bible.  The book is not a secret code, to be cracked by those up on their conspiracy theories and watchings of the moon, to tell only the spiritual elite when the end of days will occur.

It is, however, a book written to comfort those who lived in Ephesus at the time Emperor Domitian introduced the cult of imperial Rome.  This was enforced participation in sacrifices and festivals that honored Domitian and his ancestors; yes, the very ones who had destroyed Jerusalem and its temple.  The Christians in Ephesus were horrified that they were expected to celebrate the murderers of their grandparents and parents.  Revelation is written to comfort those who would stand up, even to the point of death, to this imperative.

Vatican reporter John Allen has done much to educate us on the greatest era of brutal religious martyrdom, which is our own.  Every year, one hundred and fifty thousand people are martyred as a direct result of their faith, or the works of charity inspired by their faith.  Eighty percent of these martyrs are Christians. There were well over one million Christian martyrs in the twentieth century, and of course the Nazis murdered six million Jews on the pretext that “Christ killers” were not part of the Master Race.

We don’t hear of these martyrdoms much because we hope that we live in more enlightened times, where religion isn’t used as an excuse to take land and lives.  But the blood of the martyrs of El Salvador and Nigeria and Kenya and Turkey and Iraq and Korea says otherwise.  We must not forget them.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle C

13 April 2013

Reflecting on John 21: 1-19

Do you have a place in your life where you and Jesus rendezvous?  Is there a chair in your house, or a park in your neighborhood, or a conversation with a friend, where Jesus always shows up?  It’s interesting that Peter, after the horrors of his denial of Jesus, and the mysteries of that Easter empty tomb, didn’t know what to do next but to go fishing.  I think he just longed for Jesus so much that he set out to find him where he himself was found.  We know from the other gospels that it was while Peter was fishing that Jesus first called him.

Vocation, says St. Francis de Sales, is nothing more than just doing what you were doing when God found entry into your heart.  Were you, at some point in your life, supple and open to God’s voice?  Whatever you were doing then, keep doing that.  That’s vocation.

Peter, burdened with guilt yet filled with hope, set out that day in his boat.  I don’t think he was looking for fish.  He was looking for Jesus.  And oh, how he, exhausted from the night’s fruitless work, leapt into the water to meet him when the Beloved Disciple cried, “It’s the Lord!”  And he found Jesus right there, near the charcoal fire, a fire that perhaps reminded him of that other charcoal fire, the one in Caiaphas’ courtyard, where he  had denied him just days before.

No matter.  He had the grace to go fishing, and Jesus fished him right out of the water.  He was released from the nets of guilt and shame that strangled him, and set free to be the slave of Christ.

Where do you go to meet Jesus?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle C

11 April 2013

Reflecting on John 20: 19-31

I love the word mercy. I love its musical sound when spoken, and the heart’s warm release when it is received and lodged there.  I love the feeling of extending mercy, especially because I have had so much mercy extended to me.

This Lent has been an immersion in mercy.  Just like me, that barren fig tree got still another year to shape up and start bearing fruit.  The lost son was welcomed home so ecstatically that I’ll bet the resentful neighbors were scandalized.  The woman caught in adultery found only mercy when she waited for Jesus to acknowledge her.  I think we could all feel his heart break for her as he scribbled in the sand.  I wonder if he was so mortified by the behavior of her accusers that he was embarrassed to look at her.

Mercy just feels good, and I’ll bet that’s God way of getting us to give it more often.  I’ll bet it was even more exciting for Jesus to let Thomas feel his wounds than it was for Thomas to touch them and realize that this was truly his crucified Lord, the one who lives.  Oh, the mercy in that upper room that first Easter night!  Thomas was so transformed by the experience that tradition tells us he traveled all the way to India to tell of that mercy over and over again.

Do you long for a closer connection with Christ this Easter?  Here’s the surefire answer: extend mercy to everyone you meet.  I can hear the Risen One laughing and clapping and sending more and more mercy your way.  That’s Easter.  Thanks be to God, Alleluia!  Alleluia.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Easter Sunday – Cycle C

30 March 2013

We may have received Easter a little early this year when the cardinal who chose the name “Francis” ascended to the Chair of Peter.  The Catholic imagination runs wild.

Here’s a good Easter question: Who is your favorite saint? The answer might open up a life-changing conversation about the power of deaths and risings.

One of the most revealing things I learned early on about my husband Ben is that Francis Xavier is his favorite saint.   Why?  Because he was, in many things, a dismal failure.  True, he was one of the founders of the Jesuits.  He traveled to and lived in Asia all of his religious life.  He even baptized the occasional convert there, but his religion, based in the faith of a crucified God, made most of the native peoples uncomfortable.  He took heart, though, in his upcoming voyage to China.  There, he would make converts.  But he died of a fever while waiting for a boat to take him to the mainland.

Oh, and the initial vow that those first Jesuits made, along with poverty, chastity and obedience?  They would convert the Muslims in the Middle East.  We see how that worked out.

In taking the name “Francis”, then, our new pope invoked the faithfulness-in-the-face-of-failure of Francis Xavier.  Ben loves him because he, too, has struggled against the tide in striving to really live the gospel.  He’s failed many times in his heroic attempts to enlist others in causes he feels are vital.  St. Francis Xavier is his model and friend.  They both “failed up”, which is a beautiful term to describe the grace and gifts that rise from “failure”.

So, in taking the beloved name of Francis the Holy Father has invoked the perseverance of Francis Xavier, as well as the humility and reform imaged by the little man of Assisi.  And don’t forget St. Frances Cabrini’s warm love of the children of the poor, or the gentle, humorous bishop of Geneva, St. Francis de Sales.  Pope Francis has brought each of these beloved saints into our consciousness once again.

We need a little Easter, right this very minute. May the stone of bitterness and betrayal be rolled away, and may Christ our Light illumine a new dawn.  St. Francis, pray for us.

Who do you know whose name is a derivative of Francis?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

6 June 2010

Reflecting on Luke 9:11b-17

Mosaic found in Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish - Tabgha, Galilee, Israel

It must have been hot at that deserted place in Bethsaida when the crowds came out to see Jesus—to hear him—to be touched and healed by him.  And when the day was drawing to a close they must have started to feel uncomfortable. They were hungry, but they wouldn’t leave the place where Jesus was. They couldn’t take the chance that he might be gone when they came back.

These days it’s the Job Fairs that draw the huge crowds.  The sad numbers of unemployed form a line that snakes around the block and up the stairs and out into the parking lots.  They wait in the cold and the heat for a chance to fill out still another job application.  And even when it rains they won’t leave their precious place in line—they can’t take the chance that others will stay and get the few jobs left.

I think I saw Jesus standing with them the other day.  He and some of his friends had put together some sandwiches and coffee and were passing them around.  The crowd was huge, but it looked like they’d all received more than they needed.

I saw him again last week at the Cancer Center.  One of the patients there had just received a poor prognosis.  Everyone around her—the doctors, the nurses, the patients—rallied around to comfort and strengthen her.

And I saw him in the news, working in Haiti and Chile, comforting the afflicted and holding them close.  And, always, I see him in the breaking of the bread.

Happy Feast Day, Church.  He is Really, Really Present.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

On this Feast of the Eucharist, in what ways do you see Christ Really Present in the world?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year?  The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire!  Register here today and join the conversation.

Photo of ancient mosaic on the floor of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish in Tabgha, Israel.  How many loaves are in the basket?  Go to the archives for 18th Sunday Ordinary Time B to read more.

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

29 May 2010

Reflecting on Proverbs 8:22-31

Based on an icon by Andrei Rublev in the Tretyakov Museum, Moscow

Who are the people who decided the first reading for this Sunday?  I want to thank them personally for choosing that beautiful passage from the book of Proverbs (8:22-31) as the best section of the entire Old Testament to portray the work of God the Creator.  Did you hear it?  The creator of the universe had a playmate, a friend who played on the surface of the earth, who was with God at first, before the earth.  And of course that playmate was the Holy Spirit.

Ah, Wisdom (Holy Spirit).  You were God’s partner when the mountains settled into place, and when the limits of the sea were measured out you were there, delighting God day by day.

The other two readings today give us the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity as we usually think of them:  Jesus, the peace-giver, and the Holy Spirit, the truth-giver.  But oh, how lovely to think of the First Person through the poetry of Proverbs—the delighted, artistic, musical, wondrous creator of all that is.  Our universe is shot through with Wisdom, and we live in its endless mysteries.

Of course, our beloved dead whom we remember and honor this Memorial Day weekend know that Wisdom now in a much richer way than we who wait in joyful hope for the day we are reunited with them.  They know the Trinity intimately, as the never-ending love of God drawing us home.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

 

Do you feel a special closeness to one of the Persons of the Trinity?

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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