Easter – Cycle A

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle A

10 June 2023

Reflecting on John 6: 51-58

Last week I met the MOST beautiful couple. I had come to their house to pick up a book about the seminary in Juarez, which has been supported by many of you through the St. Jerome Mission, an outreach to Mexico which originated through many churches in Denver.

From the moment they opened the door they flooded me with kisses. He’s American, she’s from Juarez, but they both share that immense joy that should come when Catholics meet other Catholics. The president of the seminary in Juarez (and the author of the book I’d come to get) is a mutual friend of both or ours, and that’s all it took for them to keep hugging and kissing me.

And here! Here are the pictures of their Wedding Mass three years ago! And here are their Confirmations! And their new baby’s Baptism! And here, at the center  of the room, were two First Communion pictures, his from  a big church in Denver, hers from a small church in Juarez. Those two photos hold the place of honor in their home. The day of their First Communions remains the most important day of their lives.

Thinking about it now, I realize that’s true for me too. I’m sure that the couple I met would say the birth of their child is the most joyful day of their lives, but the day any of us met Jesus in his Consecrated Bread and Precious Blood was the most important day of our lives. We are what we eat and drink, and the more we eat and drink of the Eucharist, the more deeply we become one with Christ.

So Happy Feast Day, Church! Let the hugging and kissing begin.

How has the Eucharist caused you to become one with the heart and mind of Christ?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Cycle A

3 June 2023

Reflecting on John 3: 16-18

A lot of times, we have a sense that the things we do that make us feel good aren’t actually good for us. Isolation is one of those things that feels good for a while. There is something increasingly seductive about staying at home with a book, or with endless Netflix movies.

Today we can block any calls we don’t want. We have cameras to assure we never have to answer the door. Of course, the longer we isolate, the more we crave it. That, we secretly know, is not good for us.

But yesterday I heard about my friend Ginny (96) from some of her family members. After her beloved husband died, we all held our breath, wondering how she would ever live without him. The adjustment was painful, but made bearable by the warm love of the many, many friends she and Bill cultivated through their long marriage.

Ginny could have withdrawn, I guess. But instead, she responded to the grace of family and friends. Every night, she hosts “happy hour” with a different set of friends. Ginny knows what we all secretly know inside: it is not good for us to be alone.

Today’s feast is actually a mandate for all of us: Just as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in relationship, we exist in relationship with each other. When we talk to that stranger on the plane, or make that phone call we’ve put off, or get over to the school and volunteer to read to the kids, we are acting as agents of the Holy Trinity.

Warm relationships are a big jigsaw puzzle. Are you the missing piece? Let the Holy Trinity show the way.

What relationships do you miss? How will you restore them?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

A Pentecost Sequence – Cycle A

27 May 2023

Reflecting on Acts 2: 1-11

They were all gathered that day in one place,

Peter, and Andrew, and She Full of Grace.

Like a mighty wind, just then the Spirit descended,

The Age of LIFE started, the Age of Law ended.

The Age of Grace poured out, in tongues as of fire.

And so filled, whatever their Christ would require

Became their great joy, their mission, their Moment,

With power they named our Despair their Opponent.

Our sadness, our shame, our losses, addictions,

Our too-tiny tremblings of too-small convictions,

They roared with the Spirit, we still hear their voices!

In memory of them the earth still rejoices.

 For God is not tiny, not helpless, not buried.

The Resurrected One was the Christ who they carried

Out to the world, to its remotest parts,

To hold us, to heal us, to DWELL in our hearts.

How do you live in Pentecost strength?         

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Solemnity of the Ascension – Cycle A

20 May 2023

Last week we resolved to begin our Pentecost novena either last Thursday, or today. Imagine that all the readers of this column around the country are praying together, right now. Our prayer is that we would be ready to give a reason for our HOPE.

It’s hard to find HOPE at times, I know. As I read back on last year’s novena, I see heartfelt prayers for a swift end to Russia’s war in Ukraine. We prayed that Vladimir Putin would have a conversion experience. We prayed that those who were trapped in Ukraine would find a safe way out.

We prayed this novena for nine days, right up to Pentecost of last year. I’m going to pray it again this year, and for as long as it takes. But I want to suggest another novena that’s closer to home this year.

It was so inspiring—so HOPEFUL—to see the lines of cars lined up last month in our parish parking lot. They had come to surrender any weapons from their homes. We recovered 58 guns, several of which were assault weapons. It’s a drop in the bucket, of course, but there’s no stopping a moment whose time has come. And so, I offer this Novena Prayer:

O God of peace, we couldn’t have imagined that the Second Amendment would serve as a shield for mass murderers.

But here we are, God, the land of the free and home of the brave, dying every day of terrible mass shootings and mass murders because of our RIGHTS.  This is the reason for our HOPE: hearts can be changed, if not amendments. Change our hearts this day. We pray in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Who will you talk to about how easy it is to surrender a firearm?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

13 May 2023

Reflecting on 1Peter 3: 15-18

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.

That line from the second reading today (1 Peter 3: 15) has been trending powerfully the last several years. I think it’s an exhortation from evangelists who are witnessing the sad reality that fewer and fewer Christians can explain what they believe, and why they believe it.

Are you ready to give an explanation for the reason for your hope, or are you, like me, timid and insecure around those who have actively rejected the faith? As we get closer to Pentecost, these two weeks might provide a fruitful time of reflection. What is the reason for your hope?

I’ll start. The reason for my hope is that I see, clearly, that God has been faithful in my past, and is faithful in the present. This lifelong awareness of the nearness of God, and the providential goodness of God in my life, stirs a solid hope in me that God will be faithful in the future as well.

Psalm 71:5 has been, I realize now, the signature scripture of my life: For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. I think about this often, the many ways my Catholic childhood, nurtured in the Catholic schools, rewarded with glow-in-the-dark medals, submerged in beautiful music and beautiful liturgy, forged a DNA of hope and trust from my youth.

This Thursday our Pentecost novena begins. For nine days before our great FEAST, let’s do a full-court press of prayer. Let’s ask God to stir in us the reasons for our hope. And may that hope renew the face of the earth.

Are you ready to give a reason for your hope?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

6 May 2023

Reflecting on Acts 6: 1-7

It’s so embarrassing to look back on the behavior of the dominant culture in every age. We know, because we are living it right now, that the day will surely come when children will say to their parents, “You could have saved us from environmental disaster and you did WHAT?”

Looking back at the things we took for granted is so shocking now. We watch TITANIC and say, “WHAT? People lived and people died on that ship depending on how much MONEY they had?” The answer is YES. Financial status seemed the only proper way to decide who had access to the lifeboats.

Every day, it seems, another appalling injustice from generations ago is brought to light. As author Bonnie Garmus wrote, “some things needed to stay in the past because the past was the only place they made sense.”

I think of all this as I read that ultra embarrassing sentence from Acts today: the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

This is in the earliest days of the Church, when miracles abounded, and huge numbers were added to the Church every day! The eyewitnesses to the Risen Lord were walking and talking in Galilee and Jerusalem, giving witness to the greatest event in all history.

And yet. When the food was distributed to the community of believers, it was understood that the widows of the Greek-speaking Jews would be neglected. They didn’t speak Hebrew, they lived in the Diaspora (outside of Jerusalem), and they didn’t have any husbands to speak for them. They were invisible.

O God, save us from the blindness upon which later generations will judge us.

What behaviors of yours in the past do you particularly regret today?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

29 April 2023

Reflecting on John 10: 1-10

We have, in Denver, two communities of the most radiant, joy-filled young people you ever saw. The Colorado Vincentian Volunteers have graced our city with energy, goodness, and a rock-hard commitment to companioning those who are marginalized, for 28 years.

Our newcomers, the Christ in the City missionaries, have served those living on the streets of Denver for 13 years. Both of these groups, shot through with the love of Jesus, come to mind so easily today, on Good Shepherd Sunday.

In a new documentary about the work of Christ in the City, Homeless but Human, It’s so obvious that those who suffer on our streets hear two voices (and those with mental illness, other voices too).

Imagine the first voice as the one you’ve heard for decades. It’s the voice that recalls all the ways you’ve been betrayed, abused, terrorized. It’s the voice that tells you to NEVER trust anyone, to hide your terrible loneliness, and to pull back into the isolation that has been your only friend.

Enter the voice of the Good Shepherd, in the delightful disguise of funny, love-filled young people who are CALLING YOU BY NAME. They are visiting you at your tent. They are ready to play cards. They are ready to sing songs with you. And not just for a day or a week. Both the CVV and Christ in the City kids are IN IT. They will listen to your heart, and touch your wounds, and remember your birthdays, until you trust them enough to apply for housing, or visit the clinic, or call home.

It’s the rod and staff of these beautiful young Believers that give comfort on our cold streets.

Have you ever heard the Voice of the Shepherd through the love of others?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

22 April 2023

Reflecting on Luke 24: 13-35

My husband Cleopas and I decided to leave Jerusalem. We were heartbroken. We had hoped that Jesus, our beloved friend, would redeem Israel. But instead, the Romans crucified him. The Romans are beasts.

Our group spent the next hours huddled together, terrified of the soldiers. This morning, three of the disciples went to the tomb with spices to anoint his body. They came running back with the wildest tale! They were screaming that his body is gone, that he has been raised! And even Peter ran to the tomb and found the burial cloths just lying there in the empty tomb.

People are crying and laughing and screaming and singing, “He has been raised!” But we aren’t naïve. We won’t be taken in by wishful thinking. The Jerusalem group can keep their joy. We saw him crucified. He had no power over the Romans. He wasn’t the one we’d hoped for after all.

But here’s the thing. On the road back to Emmaus, a stranger appeared on the road. He asked us why we were weeping. How could he not know? We started from the beginning, from the day three years ago when we heard about Jesus, and came to find him, and fell so in love with him. We told him about the friends we had made, friends we thought we’d have forever. It felt good to tell the story. In fact, our hearts were burning within us, just remembering him.

That Stranger was a good listener. Ha! How did we not recognize him? It was Jesus! As usual, we thought we were running away from him, but he was running towards us the whole time.

How does remembering the Story bring Jesus nearer?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle A

15 April 2023

Reflecting on John 20: 19-31

It’s the wounds that draw me. Show me your wounds so I can trust you. No perfect people need apply.

Most of the time a person’s wounds are pretty evident. We tend to wear our wounds as nametags, like  Hi, I’m Kathy. I don’t walk so great. But other wounds are less visible, and often those wounds are the worst.

I resonate with Thomas, who became the great Apostle to India after touching the wounds of Christ. I imagine him, reaching to actually touch the speared side, to put his finger in the nail marks, and dropping down in awe, crying out My Lord, my God!

I drop down in awe when I am in the presence of the wounded. When I consider what people live with, have lived with, and will live with in the future, it drops me to the floor. My Lord and my God! From whence does a person summon the strength to be generous, to be thoughtful, to continue to raise a child, maybe, when carrying physical or psychological wounds so overwhelming?

Consider Thomas, the recipient of Divine Mercy so great that, after his encounter with the Risen Christ, he traveled all the way to India to tell the inhabitants there, in 52 AD, that he had seen the Risen Lord, and had touched his wounds.

We are the generation about whom Jesus spoke. We have not seen him. We have not heard him. We have not touched his wounds. And yet, we believe. We embrace the faith that Thomas shouted from the rooftops. My Lord and my God! You are risen! You are here! You are living within us!

Oh Jesus, we trust in You.

In what ways have treating the wounds of those in need stirred your faith in Jesus?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Easter Sunday

8 April 2023

Reflecting on Matthew 28: 1-10

If you attended the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday you heard Matthew’s detailed and fascinating resurrection account.  It’s only here that we learn there was a “great earthquake” when an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and, like swatting a fly, rolled the stone away that had tried to keep Jesus chained in death.

And Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” actually saw this!  This is the only account in the four gospels where eyewitnesses actually saw the stone rolled away!  The big scary Roman guards posted at the tomb were so terrified by that angel that they fell dead asleep.  But not those women!  They stood their ground and watched―not fainting, but full of a faith that only comes from Love.  They loved Jesus.  No angel was keeping them from him. 

And because of their Love they witnessed the greatest event of all history.

On this day, Easter Sunday 2023, I offer you this invitation:  Fall in love with him.  Soften your heart.  Enter the tomb and see that it is empty.  Enter into a life in Christ and see that is full to overflowing with grace and love for you.  I promise.

The guards could have been eyewitnesses too.  Instead, they helped start the rumor that Jesus’ disciples stole the body so that there would be an explanation for that empty tomb when people came to see for themselves.

The world is like that these days.  There are lots of explanations for that empty tomb.  Except for this: the earliest Christians gladly accepted martyrdom because they had seen, and utterly believed, that their BELOVED was waiting for them just on the other side of the grave.

What might be keeping you from accepting the WITNESS of the earliest Christians?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

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