First Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

2 December 2013

Reflecting on Matthew 24: 37-44

Here’s a thought.  What if the Second Coming of Christ isn’t being held off by God, but held off by us?  What if, as St. Charles Borromeo suggests, “Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again”, and we’re the ones who are delaying his coming?

Here are a few of the ways I’ve experienced the “drawing near” of Christ in my life:

  1. When, outside of “sacred surroundings”, people share about the ways in which Christ is working in their lives.  Or, just because they want to, people sing psalms and hymns together.  Or they talk about the homily in the car on the way home.  Or they pray together, just because they saw each other in church and know that Jesus is their connection.
  2. When people who were estranged join hands in friendship.  There is nothing more powerful than forgiveness, no quicker way to enter the kingdom of God than to watch enemies begin to speak to one another.  Especially if we are the ones estranged, and we are the ones to make the first move toward reconciliation.    Test this out this holiday season, and let the Prince of Peace overwhelm you with his immediate presence.
  3. When we are forced out of our comfort zones and find ourselves making friends with people of every race, language, and way of life.  People, after all, are the crowning glory of God’s creation.  Find ways to enjoy the company of people different from you, and guess what?  There is Jesus, right in your midst.

The advent of the kingdom is only this: Draw near to him, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).

In what ways will you help the kingdom draw near this year?

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 © 2013

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Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Cycle C

24 November 2013

Reflecting on Luke 23: 35-43

Jesus, remember us when you come into your kingdom. Remember us, Jesus, in the Philippines.  You thirsted on the cross that terrible day.  We thirst.  We have no clean water, and no one can reach us in our isolated village.  We suffer with you, Jesus.

They looted your belongings and cast lots for your garment that terrible day. Here, every source of water and food and shelter has been looted.  We are not criminals.  We are trying to save our children.  We are naked, and wet, and cold, and hot.  We suffer with you, Jesus.

Remember those, Jesus, here at home, who await court trials. Their family members are terrified for them.  Console all prisoners around the world who are wrongly imprisoned through the false testimony of others.  You suffered that betrayal too.   And as you forgave the Good Thief from the cross, let all prisoners who have sinned against you deeply know the deep consolation of your saving mercy.

Your friends fled from you that terrible day.  What a comfort it would have been to have them there at the cross, praying with you.   Instead, your tormentors mocked you.  Our elderly understand that, Jesus.  They are alone in their nursing homes, forgotten by friends, abandoned by their children.  Their memories fail them, and they are the source of snickering behind their backs.  They suffer with you, Jesus.

Remember the young people around the world, Jesus, who cannot find work.  Many cannot find meaning.  Many cannot find you.  O Jesus, remember them most of all.

In what areas of your life do you ask Jesus to “remember” you?

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 © 2013

2 Comments to “Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Cycle C”

  1. I need to forgive my best friend, my spouse. I have been deeply hurt by him. I know in my head I need to forgive him, but I am having a trouble time in my heart. Jesus, forgives me daily. This is what we say in the Our Father prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, I am really struggling. I pray about it alot. Jesus, remember me the one who is struggling to forgive. I need to live those words of forgiveness. Jesus I need your help!

  2. Thank you, Kathy for remembering our people in the Philippines. Guia and I just got back after three weeks and the devastation brings many communities back to the stone age.
    It’s the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history throughout the world. Even churches that stood for four hundred years got destroyed.God bless you and everyone in this cyber commuhnity.

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Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

17 November 2013

Reflecting on Luke 21: 5-19

If you go to New York City sometime, try to get to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.  The inhabitants of Little Italy, Chinatown, the Jewish communities, and thousands of others lived in the tenements high above the bustling saloons, clothing and jewelry stores on Orchard Street― a block that historians say was the most densely populated street in the world in the 1870s.

Listen to the babies crying.  Hear the music of the world’s languages as neighbors barter for the freshest tomatoes, or the best price for winter coats.  Get ready to sweat as you help Gerta Schneider cook schnitzel in her tiny kitchen in July.  Watch Mama Rogarshevsky light the Sabbath candles, and bow your head as Papa prays the Sabbath blessing.

They left large farms to live literally on top of one another in a crowded city.  Many escaped earthquakes, famines and plagues, or ominous pogroms that bode of the holocaust to come.  They came for a better life, and later generations found it.

Today, neighborhood carnicerias thrive next to Middle East grocery stores and Somali markets. These groups fled their homes also, where unstable nations rise against nations, and kingdoms against kingdoms.

We, too, live in a time of powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues. Hurricane Sandy came close to destroying in a day the very tenement neighborhood that housed millions of immigrants for three hundred years.

We Coloradans have our own flood narratives, too.  And Nebraskans have tornados.  And don’t even mention fires to Californians.  Is the world finally coming to an end?

Do not be terrified, says Jesus.  If we all work to heal our planet the God of all nations will secure our lives.

In what ways do you live by faith, not fear?

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 © 2013

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Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

12 November 2013

Reflecting on Luke 20: 27-38

What awaits us after death?  Will heaven be so radically different from earth that even the greatest joys of our existence here will fade to nothing once we are in the presence of the Beatific Vision?  That image of heaven makes me uneasy.

We cling to this life because it’s all we know.  Of course we hold close to the loves and friendships that make our lives so rich and full.  Why on earth would we willingly leave them for an eternity of the unknown?  The ancient author of the book of Ecclesiastes reflects on this in my favorite passage in all of scripture:  God has made everything beautiful in its time, and yet has set eternity in our hearts (3:11).

Yes.  We embrace and love this life, and yet we carry a deep intuition that this is not the end, that we are made for eternity, where every tear shall be undone, and death will be no more (Revelation 21:4).

I somehow sense that heaven will be more and more of all the things we built on earth.  As C.S. Lewis suggests in The Great Divorce, if we demand to cling to our resentments and pettiness and selfishness, heaven can’t give us more than what we consistently chose throughout our lives. We will flee from heaven because it’s too solid, too real, and too wonderful for us.

But, as the great John Kavanaugh, S.J. wrote:  Those who cast themselves into the arms of the living God, no matter what their shame or sorrow, will find what their hearts desired.

I choose to cast myself into those arms, and to trust in the God of the living.

What do you think heaven will be like?

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 © 2013

One Comments to “Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C”

  1. this is a question I have thought a lot about lately. I think, heaven, will be the most beautiful experience but painful to start with. Just think when we were in the womb, we had to be born into this world and learn everything about it. I think heaven will be the same way. We will need to learn, we will be like babies in heaven, but the experience oh the experience will be wonderful.

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Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

3 November 2013

Reflecting on Luke 19: 1-10

I think that we are all doing the best we can.  It’s tough out there.  We have to be great parents, attentive and available grandparents, debt-free, environmentally conscious, active parishioners, and avidly working on our fat-to-muscle ratio.

Outsiders might look at our rowdy kids and say, “Why doesn’t someone teach those parents how to discipline their kids?”  Others might say, in the car after the party, “I can’t believe they used paper plates when they could have just brought out their regular dishes and washed them later.  I thought they were supposed to be such environmentalists.”  Or, the worst, “She says she’s watching her cholesterol, but did you see that piece of cake she ate?”

Looking at us from the outside, it appears that we are hypocritical and lazy.  But the Incarnate Jesus, the one who dwells with us, isn’t looking from the outside.  He dwells within us, and breathes every breath with us.  He is with us during the endless sleepless nights we endure with our kids.  He is with us when we recycle the annoying cardboard boxes.  He is with us when we spend those lonely late-night hours working to get out of debt, or to face and recover from our addictions.

That’s what Zaccheus experienced when Jesus, who had talked so often about the dignity and worth of the poor, called this rich man down from the sycamore tree and invited himself over for dinner.  The Incarnate One knew he was doing the best he could, and Zaccheus, overjoyed at being held in the embrace of Love, did even better than his best for the rest of his life.

Whose belief in you has inspired you to be the best you can be?

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 © 2013

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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

27 October 2013

Reflecting on Luke 18: 9-14

There is something very sacred about this story that Jesus tells today about the Pharisee and the tax collector.  But we must hold it close, and let its grace touch us.  To be able to consider that we might be the Pharisees, the ones who think (secretly, of course) that they are more deserving of God’s mercy than anyone else, is a grace just in itself.  We don’t think in terms of “sin” and “sinner” anymore, so to actually let that concept into our hearts can be healing already.

The surest and quickest passage to God’ mercy is to be profoundly aware of our need of it.  Try to remember a time when you were humbled by sin.  Maybe you were caught in a lie, or stopped while gossiping about someone.  Maybe one of the deadly sins has you in its vise, and the fruit of a lifetime of wrath, for example, finds you banging on the hood of somebody’s stalled car in front of you at rush hour.  Or maybe, like me, you routinely use about a thousand percent of your share of the world’s resources, and a traveling companion asks if that was really you taking that twenty-minute shower.

It is such a precious gift to be humbled, to admit our sin, to bow before God and say, “Lord, I thank you that I’ve finally been found out.  I thank you that the world now knows what you’ve known all along.  Oh God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

It doesn’t feel good, but it changes us.  It nudges us a bit closer to heaven, where sinners are welcomed home every day.

How has the awareness of sin in your life changed you?

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 © 2013

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Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

19 October 2013

Reflecting on Luke 18: 1-18

Rembrandt, St. Jacob Praying, 1661

Somewhere, at this moment, someone in the world is praying for you.  I know.  I just saw it with my own eyes.

Recently my husband Ben and I found ourselves on the highest hill in Paris, cozily ensconced in the Sacre Coeur monastery for two days.  There we had the great joy of stepping out of our rooms and into the basilica, the breathtaking church built by the French in atonement for their part in the Franco-Prussian War.

Imagine the roar and rush of Paris.  Then imagine stepping into the basilica, where the Benedictine nuns and priests sing the psalms (in French, of course) by candlelight, at various time of the night and day, world without end.  Heaven.

Five days later we entered another piece of heaven when he got off the train in Lisieux, the home of St. Thérése.  Roses!  Millions of roses greet the pilgrims who have come to pray with the Carmelite community at the hermitage where St. Thérèse lived, and where she wrote Story of a Soul, the best-selling religious book of the twentieth century.

Here we prayed with the Carmelite sisters and postulants at all hours of the day and night.  And oh, the music of those French psalms wafting through the grille where St. Thérése and her cloistered community once prayed.  Heaven.

This is what I love about being Catholic: the sure and certain hope that we are never alone.  At this moment, a friend, a stranger, or a member of some religious community somewhere is praying for us.  Thank God that they never stop praying, for our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Can we pray for you?  Go to the website and let us know.

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 © 2013

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Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

13 October 2013

Reflecting on Luke 17: 11-19

James Tissot, Healing of the Lepers at Capernaum, 1886-94

Will you do a spiritual exercise for me?  Be quiet for a moment, and try to recall the last time you were sick.  Maybe you had a bad cold. Think of that pounding headache, or the burning eyes, or the painful blowing of your red, red nose.  Remember the misery of having to go to work, or make dinner, or answer e-mails when your body was screaming for sleep.

And now, remember the morning when your cold was over.  You slept through the night.  Your head was clear.  You felt blessedly strong and full of energy.

Try to remember that delicious moment of delivery from illness.  The migraine gone.  The blood test negative.  The lump dissolved.  Live in that moment of gratitude now.

Imagine that poor Samaritan man who had contracted leprosy.  What huge floods of relief must have coursed through him to hold out his hand and see that he was cured!  Cured!  He could return to his family.  He could make a living for them once again.  He could hold his new baby, or maybe his grandchild.  Death and loneliness had circled ‘round him, but as he was traveling to show himself to the priest he realized that he was healed, and sorrow and sadness fled away.

If we could just live in that moment of gratitude every day we would break open every inch of distance we may feel from God.  Can you remember how it felt to be healed of an illness?  God lives right there, in the place where immense gratitude is stored.  Offer that memory back to God.  That’s where the heart of praise finds its endless source.

What memory do you have of being healed?

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 © 2013

2 Comments to “Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C”

  1. Kathy,
    I thank you for your beautiful writings each week. I especially am touched by this week. Gratitude for healing. Thank you so very much.
    Paul-E

  2. Lovely, lovely reflection, Kathy! So full of depth and real awareness of that ineffable, inescapable God-touch. Thank you, dear!

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Twenty-Seventh in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

5 October 2013

Reflecting on Habakkuk 1: 2-3; 2: 2-4

Do things ever really get better if we just wait, and trust God? That’s the promise of the reading from Habakkuk today.  In fact, the prophet wants us to have these words of comfort so much that he demands that the vision be written down on tablets in such large print that a courier can run with it and people can read it as he passes.

As I write this, the world is waiting to see if Syria actually turns over its arsenal of chemical weapons, some of which were used to kill a thousand people.  But of course Assad has already killed one hundred thousand people with the conventional weapons of shelling, gunfire, and torture.  Some of the victims of these atrocities cry out to the world, “We cry for help and you do not listen!  We cry out to you, ‘Violence!’, but you do not intervene.”   Others plead for the world to broker peace for them without firing another shot.

A few weeks ago the worldwide Church kept vigil for peace in Syria, and the fruits of that prayer were immediate.  John Kerry made a “gaffe from God”, and enemies began to speak to one another.

If the vision delays, wait for it. We wait, and never stop praying that Syria, the very cradle of Christianity, may once again be Ground Zero for the dramatic power of God. St. Paul was born there.  St. Matthew and St. Luke both wrote their gospels there.  Paul’s missionary journeys embarked from there.  We were first called “Christians” there.  Pray for peace in Syria.

The vision still has its time, and will not disappoint.

Is there someone you pray for all the time?

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 © 2013

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Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

28 September 2013

Reflecting on Luke 16: 19-31

We’re twenty-six weeks into Ordinary Time, and already I’m thinking about snow.  With the cool weather comes all the delicious smells and tastes and sights and sounds of fall.  It’s finally time for pumpkin bread and football games.  And that means that this liturgical year is beginning to wind down.

But before we start looking for the Advent candles, let’s reflect for a moment on the gospel―St. Luke’s gorgeous proclamation of good news for the poor ―that we’ve been hearing all year and will continue to hear for the next eight weeks.  Today’s story about the rich man (Dives) and the poor beggar Lazarus is a perfect example of Luke’s “business plan”.  His mission is that anyone who reads his gospel shall never again store up treasure for themselves while forgetting about those who have less.  He wants us all to be rich in what matters to God.  Eternity depends on it.

We’ve heard the great Lukan stories since last December.  The poor, unmarried virgin says be it done unto me according to your will, and the world is changed forever. Early in his public ministry Jesus’ very first words to a great crowd assembled on a plain are blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.

The guy who builds bigger barns to store all his goods has his life demanded of him that very night.  The guest list for your big party should begin down at the homeless shelter and the school for the blind.  And Jesus, for whom there is no room at the inn for his birth, in death is buried in a tomb not his own.

Okay, Luke.  We’re listening.

Is there a Lazarus in your life?

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 © 2013

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