Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

10 July 2021

Reflecting on Mark 6: 7-13

This gospel always transports me to that memorable summer when I did the obligatory ten weeks’ European vacation with some friends. That was the Age of Aquarius, right, when twenty-somethings took off for Europe in droves, wearing Birkenstocks, and carrying enormous backpacks that we cluelessly unloaded on the seats next to us on the train.

It’s one particular week in Greece that I especially remember. We had no money, naturally, for a hostel or hotel room, so we slept on the couches of the lobby of an ancient hotel that didn’t bother to lock the doors at night.

Every hot, sticky morning, we awoke with the cats of the neighborhood sleeping on our stomachs or backs. We all languidly stretched, licked our lips, and the cats went out in search of milk while the humans searched for coffee. Ah, the sixties (which actually extended well into the seventies).

I’ll bet those disciples, sent out with no food, no backpack, and no money, slept in far worse conditions than those. They probably didn’t have to, since they could have taken money for lodging, but it was the very fact that they had no provision that prompted those they visited to care for them.

There must have been deep conversations as they all fell asleep together. Can you imagine having one of the actual eyewitnesses to Jesus staying at your house? If they had had their own food, their own extra clothes, their own money for lodging, they wouldn’t have needed their gracious hosts. And the gospel might have never moved out of the Galilee.

The Sisters who taught us back in those Sixties carried nothing. I think I get it now.

How can you get back to a more simple lifestyle?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

3 July 2021

Reflecting on 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

This is the eighth Sunday in a row in which we’ve read from 2 Corinthians, and I’m so glad we conclude today with my favorite phrase from that entire letter: My grace is sufficient for you (12:9). I must remind myself of that promise a few times every day, and it’s true every single time.

Now, there were times where I experienced grace in droves—tons and tons of it. And there were a few times—getting further and further in the rearview mirror, thank God—when the only grace I could cling to was that exact scripture, hanging under a photograph on my bedroom wall. It became my mantra, and, over time, the grace I begged for visited me again.

I suppose it depends on what the word “sufficient” means. Today, healthy and strong, sufficient grace means the grace to meet the world with competence, preparation, and prayer. Many, many years ago, sufficient grace meant enough strength to breathe. I need more grace, I told God. My grace is sufficient for you, the poster on the wall replied. Just barely, I returned. Just barely.

It’s possible that some dear reader out there today is hanging on by the barest thread of grace. Maybe it’s a terrible physical illness. Maybe it’s a terrible loss. Maybe it’s despair. It’s possible that some reader has already begged God for more grace already today. Okay, Church, let’s do this:

Imagine that person. God knows who it is, so we don’t have to. Pray for sufficient grace for him or her. As Elizabeth said to Mary at the Visitation, “Happy are you who believed that the promise of the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45).

Do you need more grace today? Expect that you are included in this prayer.

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

26 June 2021

Reflecting on 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 gossip-y 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 ©2021

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Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

19 June 2021

Reflecting on Job 38: 1,8-11

We get just a smidgen of JOB this week, but it’s enough to give us a glimpse into what is surely the most beautiful hymn to nature in all literature. If you haven’t read the last chapters of JOB, do yourself a huge favor. Take your bible to the beach, or the mountains, or your favorite place to bird-watch, or, YES, the ZOO this summer, or just keep it handy as you watch any of the stunning David Attenborough nature films. Read chapters 38-42 under the stars, with a flashlight, while camping this summer.

If you don’t burst into a few verses of “How Great Thou Art” as you read about how God takes care of each star in the heavens, and every tiny sea creature, stop and read it again, slowly. It will slow your pulse, and relax your breathing.

This is the section where God finally shows up to answer JOB’S challenge. And, by the way, where do we possibly get the phrase The patience of JOB? He’s roaringly impatient through the entire book, and who can blame him? If you think you’ve had a bad day—and if you did, please accept my heartfelt condolences—remember that JOB lost his crops, his workers, and all his children on the same day.

It’s an ancient folktale, of course, but the very best parts are at the end, when God lets JOB know that God’s been with him all along. And here’s the comforting part: God shows up in the whirlwind, in the chaos, in the unknowing, in the storm at sea. Are you feeling tossed and thrown out of the boat? Lucky you. That’s where God lives.

Can you sense God’s presence in your own challenges?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

12 June 2021

Reflecting on Ezekiel 17:22-24

This weekend, as I read about the shoot taken from the mighty cedar and planted on the mountain heights of Israel, I find myself thinking about the historic north Denver church where my husband Ben leads the choir on Sundays.

If you were baptized in Denver between 1907 and 1940, there’s a thirty percent chance you were baptized at Annunciation Parish. The Irish, Italians, and Germans built the church, and filled its grade school and high school. Those were the glory years, when the immigrant Church packed the pews, and the mighty shoot of deep religious faith was planted in Denver, 5280 feet up above sea level.

Later, devout African Americans put down roots in the parish, and today a robust Hispanic community fills the Church. The neighborhood is changing again, and the young, upwardly mobile Anglos walking by the church are starting to be lured into stepping inside. Thank you, Capuchin priests!

Imagine this: there is one singer in this tiny eight-person choir who has sung in the choir since the late seventies. For over forty years, Ron Vigil has set his alarm, dressed, and arrived to sing for Mass.

For many years, under the leadership of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, the choir was massive, and music soared to the heights of the Gothic ceiling. In the late eighties, in fact, Hollywood came calling, and filmed many episodes of The Father Dowling Mysteries there. Ron can pull up the episodes that featured the choir and play it for you, if you’d like.

Faith can take root from the mightiest tree, or the tiniest mustard seed. The task, though, is to stay faithful. How else can later generations find shade beneath your branches?

From which shoot has your own faith been nourished?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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The Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle B

6 June 2021

I love to read advice columns, mostly for the letters. It’s eye-opening to read the situations in which so many people live. The saddest thing for me is that I have the answer to every problem I’ve read, and it’s so easy: Christ, and the Eucharist.

I wonder if those who write in to advice columns have been on too many dating sites, with their romantic images of togetherness. Foot massages. Date nights. Long walks on the beach. Those of us who have been married forever—the greatest blessing on earth, by the way—howl at these superficial offerings.

A foot rub? Every night my husband lovingly straps my nerve-damaged foot in a big ugly tool he pulled out of the garage. He’s rigged it so the heavy part drops as an anchor over the bed, while the cord wraps around my ankle and pulls it away from the nerve that is screaming. The relief is tremendous. Romantic? More than words can say.

He does this, day after day, because as a child he trained his brain to recognize Christ, really present in the consecrated Bread and Wine. Then he trained his brain to recognize Christ in every person God brings into his life.,

You know that plaque that says Get you somebody who looks at you the way your dog looks at you? Here’s my best marriage advice, or just best advice in general:

Get you somebody who sees Christ in you. That’s where heaven and earth meet. That’s the answer to every problem.

St. Teresa of Calcutta challenged us to see Christ in his most distressing disguise. You don’t want to miss him. Happy Feast Day, Church.

How will you work to see Christ in the person you most dislike?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Cycle B

29 May 2021

Reflecting on Rom. 8:14-17

I’m always sad when the Easter Season ends. It’s crazy, but it seems like with the close of Easter we may as well just get the Advent candles out. That’s crazy, right? We have a full twenty-four of Ordinary Time ahead. That’s weeks and weeks of lazy summer days, and then the delightful months of October and November. By that time we will all be ready for the new liturgical year to begin, but not until.

This Sunday and next are odd. They are major feasts of the Church—Solemnities, even—but they are also the first Sundays in Ordinary Time since we left Ordinary Time a full fourteen weeks ago. Have you ever considered that the forty days of fasting (Lent) and the fifty days of feasting (Easter) comprise a full one-quarter of the Church year? We spend 25% of the year in specific seasons that reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the rest of the year celebrating this Paschal Mystery:

We proclaim your death, oh Lord. There is something in us that understands that death is not the end, and having a Savior who died a terrible death brings us close to him in our own dyings.

And profess your resurrection. We are now in the season of risings. The flowers, the fields, and our own spirits feel lifted up to the sun. We draw close to Jesus, who knew the way out of the tomb, and leads us out of our tombs too.

Until you come again! We wait in joyful hope for that trinity of Christian belief: You died, You rose, You will come again. We cherish every Ordinary Day that brings us closer to You.

What are the three blessings of this past year for which you are the most grateful?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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A Pentecost Sequence – Cycle B

22 May 2021

Reflecting on Acts 2:1-11

We were all waiting still in that same Upper Room.

You know, the one right above David’s tomb?

Mary, his mother, was there, to be sure.

We all had a lifetime of questions for her.

What was he like as a child? And then:

Do you think that he knew He was God, and when?

We remembered him turning that water to wine.

But somehow we didn’t know He was Divine.

Then we couldn’t stop it, as much as we tried:

Something was coming right at us, inside!

A noise coming up like a strong, driving wind

And it filled all the space of the house we were in.

And fire, like flames, hovered o’er each of us!

We were stunned, we were shaking, rejoicing, and PLUS

You know how the foreigners fill up the Square?

We could speak in the language of everyone there.

So THIS was the Promised One, Spirit so strong

We could feel history move, and then carry us along.

We cried, we laughed, we were filled with such courage

That even the Cross would never discourage

Each one of the Twelve, on this day of NEW BIRTH,

From reaching to preach to the ends of the earth.

O Spirit, O Comforter, come with Thy Aid,

To fill all who are reading this poem today.

How do you feel the grace of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Kathy.McGovern ©2021

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Seventh Sunday of Easter/ Ascension – Cycle B

15 May 2021

Reflecting on Acts 1: 1-11

Nine days—novena —before Pentecost, Jesus said You are my witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Seriously? Us? Well, okay then. We can do this. We have done this. We will do this. And with Pentecost right around the corner, we’ll get an extra boost of SPIRIT to help us do this.

I recently read a shocking letter, written by a woman who had a terrible experience dropping into a new church after having to leave her home in order to place her husband in nursing care. She was heartbroken, lonely, depressed. She went to a new church where she knew no one. She received no welcome, no “Hey, you’re new here, aren’t you?” She begged the leadership to help her find a bible study, or someone to pray with her, or help companion her during the sad transition she was undergoing, but she received no comfort.

Can you imagine that? At our parish a new person walking in better be able to run, because we’re going to love them within an inch of their lives.

But it’s not like the old days out there. People have truly been left behind in so many ways. Have you seen Nomadland? That was a revelation. There is an actual community of people who travel the country in old campers and RVs, who find family with each other when they meet up at roadside camp sites.

I wonder if the best way to bear witness to Jesus is to just shower the people who come into our lives with love. The waitress, the mail carrier, the police officer — show them Jesus this week. Then watch what the Spirit will do.

Ready. Set. GO.

How will you shower the world with love in this week before Pentecost?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

8 May 2021

Reflecting on Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

Today was the greatest day of my life. Even though I am a Roman centurion and not a Jew, I love the God of Abraham, and I longed to learn more about this Jesus whom the entire territory is talking about.

When the angel appeared to me and told me about a man named Simon Peter who was staying in Joppa, I hoped that this was the same Peter who was the great apostle of Jesus. I sent messengers to ask him to come here to Caesarea.

When he entered my house I was overcome. I fell to my knees, but he lifted me up and said, “I too am only a man.” So this was Peter. He possessed great power, and a quiet strength born of great suffering. I had prayed that the man whom the angel told me to summon was he. And now this legend, this man whose faith Jesus said he would build his church upon, was standing in my home.

And a Jew! Standing in the home of a Gentile! We were all in shock. As it turns out, he had just had a vision himself, just before my messengers arrived in Joppa. In his vision he saw animals of every kind, clean and unclean, and then God told him that all food was “clean,” and good to eat.

Everything we thought we knew about God has been turned upside down! From now on, the Jews don’t need to keep kosher dietary laws any more, and we Gentiles can be part of God’s salvation even though our men aren’t circumcised! Peter said, “I begin to see that God shows no partiality.”

And, one by one, we all began to see it too.

In what ways have you learned that God loves all people?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

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