A Pentecost Sequence

11 June 2014

Send your fire, oh Spirit.
Not the fire of guns.  We’ve heard them to death.
Change us.  Do whatever it takes.  We won’t do it ourselves.

Not the fires of forests, dying.
Send the rains of new life, and heal the world.
Create in us a clean heart.  We can’t renew the face of the earth until you do.

Not the terror of medieval minds
Unleashed on hope-filled girls.
Fast-forward their abductors, and all who think like them,
Into a new way of being in the world.

Like a mighty wind, oh God,
Blow away our gods of stuff, and our religion of more.
Make our hearts hungry to find you in the beautiful faces of those
In parts of the world we’ve never sought.

Come, oh Holy Spirit, come!  And give us wider eyes, and humbler hearts.
Let us see the world as you see it, if we can bear it.
Bend our stubborn hearts, and will.
Change us, Spirit, now until He comes again.
 AMEN. AMEN.

How are you cooperating with the Holy Spirit?

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

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Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord – Cycle A

1 June 2014

Reflecting on Mt. 28: 16-20

Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Even at the moment of his ascension the apostles still didn’t get it. They still hoped that Jesus was getting ready to get an army together to expel the Romans from Palestine.  And these are the eyewitnesses!  They had seen him crucified, had seen the empty tomb, had seen him during the days after his resurrection, and still thought that the great work of his life was going to be to gather an army and rid Israel of the hated Roman occupiers.

That would take a lot of power, a lot of armies. But nothing like the power they were soon to experience. From heaven Jesus was about to send them the Holy Spirit, whose fire would burn—still burns—to the ends of the earth.  And yes, the day came when the Romans left Israel, only to be replaced by other foreigners, and today the wars still rage over the very land that Jesus loved. 

But the gifts of the Spirit which poured out on the infant Church just nine (novena) days after the Ascension are as powerful now as they were then.  May those gifts set the world aflame once again, and may those who terrorize, and abduct, and torture, and make their fortune selling weapons, and live their lives as if God can be domesticated and made to see things our way, be utterly converted by the radical love that only comes from the Spirit of God.

How is the Holy Spirit urging me to dream bigger dreams, to build a new heaven and earth?

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

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Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

24 May 2014

Reflecting on John 14: 1-12

I really liked the movie Heaven is for Real, but of course when I googled it I found all kinds of naysayers.  Atheists found it ridiculous, of course.  Some fundamentalist Protestants are boycotting it because too many of the wrong people, people who had never publicly “accepted Christ as their personal Savior”, showed up in heaven.  Some fundamentalist Catholics are suspicious of the child’s account of his visit to heaven because he doesn’t have vivid memories of seeing Mary there.

I liked the book too, especially the incredulity of Colton’s Methodist minister father and, oddly, the hostility of the congregation toward the four-year-old’s account of his experience.  The most embarrassing kind of Christian, for some, is the one who believes magical things about an actual heaven, and an actual God who rules there.  Sophisticated Christians, in their view, are past all that.

I think the author of the Fourth Gospel, which we call John’s gospel, would like the movie too, especially the end.  Colton’s father Todd asks his grumbling congregation a series of questions.  What is God’s will?  That we love one another.  Why?  Because God is love, and we who abide in love abide in God.  And where is God’s will being done?  On earth as it is in heaven.  That’s a perfect summary of John’s gospel.

Conclusion: Love is the bridge between heaven and earth.   God, says the minister, showed Colton what we all need to know about heaven:  it is love, only and always.  The people we loved on earth are being loved in heaven.

We have not been left as orphans here on earth.  Rather, we are connected, through the Mystical Body, on earth as we are in heaven.

How do you sense your connection with your loved ones in heaven?

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

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Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

19 May 2014

Reflecting on I Peter 2: 4-9

We’re in the weather disaster season now.  Here in Colorado we are praying that last year’s house-leveling floods won’t pave the way for this year’s melting snowpack to turn into raging torrents in the same areas.

The author of the second reading today knew the shock of seeing his home destroyed too.  Imagine living in Jerusalem about 40 years after the resurrection.  Jewish “zealots”―read terrorists―had ambushed and killed enough Roman soldiers in the late 60s to bring the wrath and military might of the Roman Empire right into Jerusalem.

If you’re ever in Rome, visit the Arch of Titus to see its depictions of the triumphal sack of Jerusalem in 70, and the sacred vessels (and prisoners in chains) brought back to Rome.  The city of Jerusalem was left in flames, and its great Temple was left, as Jesus prophesied, with not one stone standing.

Now imagine this New Testament author standing amid the burning rubble, seeing the cornerstone of the Temple laying in ruins, and coming to this beautiful realization:  Jesus is the Living Stone, the Stone who gives life and meaning to a dying world.  And we are the living stones, the stones who stand in perfect symmetry and intimacy with the Living Stone.

The dead stones of Great King Herod’s Temple are still sitting there, 709,634 days later.  They’ve never been moved.  Meanwhile, the work of the living stones of most religious traditions―hospitals, schools, refugee centers, hospices, charitable work of every kind, companionship with those who are poor, and the preaching of the Good News―gathers momentum and energy every second of every day.

I love being a living stone in a building that will never die.

How do you experience your faith as a living stone?

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

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Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

10 May 2014

Reflecting on John 10: 1-10

Several years ago, while driving near Shepherd’s Field, a shout went out from some of the pilgrims.  “Stop the bus! There is an actual shepherd! And actual sheep!”  And we all jumped off and took photographs of the bemused shepherds, who must find it odd that strangers find their occupation so fascinating.

That’s how out of touch we are with the rural images which Jesus uses so richly.  By spotting an actual shepherd with actual sheep―and just outside of Bethlehem, no less―we city-dwelling, 21st century urbanites desperate for a connection with Jesus were thrilled to the core.

Who knows how much we are missing when we read the gospels, and Jesus’ beautiful images which were so familiar to his audience, and so unfamiliar to us? And because we miss so much of the shepherd imagery we miss this beautiful piece:  Jesus is not only the Shepherd, but he’s the Gate to the sheepfold too.

That means that Jesus protects us as a devoted shepherd protects his sheep.  Once they are in the sheepfold, he lays down next to the entrance and his body serves as the gate.  If there is danger, his sheep hide behind him.  If marauders do get in the sheepfold, they do it only over the shepherd’s dead body.

We should all experience that kind of love.  We should all know, from the womb, that we are safe.  We should be born into a world anxious to protect and love us.  We should not fear armies gathering at our borders, or bombs, or ferry boats.

The world is a dangerous place.  Hide yourself in Jesus, the Shepherd of your soul.

In what ways do you feel safe in God’s 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

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Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

5 May 2014

Reflecting on Luke 24: 13-35

The more I learn about Jesus and his times the more I understand why, even on Easter morning, even after hearing stories about an empty tomb, the disciples of Jesus returned to their home in Emmaus with heavy hearts.

We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel, they told the Stranger who traveled with them.   He didn’t redeem Israel after all.  He didn’t call together an army, he didn’t call down thunder from heaven and make the Romans pay for their unspeakable atrocities.  He didn’t rid Israel of the oppressor. 

What good is a redeemer who doesn’t rid us of the Romans?  Does God not see―does God not care― that they torture and brutalize us, and keep us in desperate poverty?  What good is a redeemer who loves to the end, even loves those who murder him so unjustly?  Who needs a redeemer like that?

We do.

The heavens opened, and angels rolled away the stone.  The tomb was already empty, even though the stone had held it closed until that moment.  Who needs a God like that?

We do.

Our hearts burned within us as the Stranger explained the scriptures to us, but we finally recognized him when he took, and blessed, and broke, and gave the Bread to us.  Who needs a redeemer like that?

We do.

Forever and ever.  Alleluia.

How does your own brokenness help repair 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.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

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Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle A

27 April 2014

Reflecting on John 20: 19-31

Why is Thomas still hanging around anyway?  He’s heard all the reports.  He knows that Mary of Magdala found the stone rolled away.  He knows the tomb was empty.  And he certainly knows the tale that Jesus appeared to the other disciples that very first evening, when he so unfortunately was not there.

He doesn’t believe it.  He’s not going to be taken for a fool.  Unless he touches the wounds himself―well, maybe he won’t have to go that far, but you know what he means―he will not be taken in by mass hysteria and a conspiracy to believe.

So why is he still here, associating with a community of faith?

Clearly he is more sophisticated than they are, more worldly wise, less susceptible to hope when there clearly is no hope, yet he is still heart-broken.   His beloved friend has been tortured and killed, and when he died he took all of Thomas’ dreams with him to the grave.

And then there is the other thing.  He’s been suppressing a soaring in his heart all week.  Here is his secret:  he so desperately wants it to be true.  And it’s for this reason that he can’t pull himself away from those who already believe.  Take your crazy stories away, he tells them.  Please bring your crazy stories closer.

You might know someone like him.  You might be him.  So stay close to those who believe.  Hold the crazy stories deep in your heart.  And then watch for him to be standing very near you, inviting you to touch his wounds.

How has staying close to those who believe strengthened your belief?

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

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Easter Sunday – Cycle A

20 April 2014

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 2014, 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 falling in 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

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Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – Cycle A

17 April 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 26: 14-27:66

Five weeks ago we heard a familiar and eerie story.  Jesus, having just been baptized, goes into the desert to keep his rendezvous, set from the beginning of time, with the Enemy. Famished from fasting, he is accosted by the Liar, who says, Look, you’re God, right?  I know you’re hungry, and there’s nothing to eat out here.  Just turn these stones into bread.

Jesus repulses the Liar with scripture, but he persists.  If you really want to show these people that you’re God, you should throw yourself off this cliff and let the angels catch you.  That’s the way a real God would do it.

Again Jesus rebuffs him, and the Enemy finally shows his hand.  Okay, you’re God and I’m not.  But I’ve got all the kingdoms of the world in my pocket. Give up this charade of being a human being, bow down and worship me, and I’ll give you everything.

At this, Jesus commands the Liar to leave, and so he must.   Matthew’s gospel tells us that angels then come to minister to Jesus.  Watch for those angels.  They’ll be back to roll the stone away on Easter morning, and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against them.

Satan failed so miserably because he couldn’t believe that Jesus, though he was in the form of God, would empty himself, taking the form of a slave.  Satan must have been astonished on Good Friday, when Jesus became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Two thousand years later, we’re still astonished.  And at his Name, 2.18 billion Christians bend their knees today, and their tongues confess:  Jesus Christ is Lord.

Are you still astonished at this wondrous 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

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Fifth Sunday in Lent – Cycle A

6 April 2014

Reflecting On John 11:1-45

Ten years ago this week I went into Rose Hospital for exploratory surgery on a ten centimeter ovarian cyst.  I don’t think it’s going to turn out to be anything, said my wonderfully reassuring surgeon.  We’ll probably be done in an hour.

When I woke up, three hours had passed.  That’s when I knew for sure that the same disease which killed my mother in 1985 now had me in its grip.

But not for long. There was no metastasis.  I was one of those rare women to whom the symptoms of ovarian cancer did not whisper at all.  They shouted loud enough for my husband and my friend Angeline Hubert to say, “Something is very wrong with you.”

Like Lazarus, I was dead in the tomb.  Had my loved ones not pushed me to find the reason for my deep fatigue, the disease would surely have progressed to a stage beyond the scope of surgery.  Kathy, come out! Jesus our Healer commanded me.  And the nearly dead woman came out.  I am the longest-living survivor of ovarian cancer at the Rose Rocky Mountain Cancer Center.

Lord, if you had been here my mother would never have died.  How I prayed that my wonderful mom would be cured so many years before, but it was through her death that I recognized the disease when it came upon me nearly twenty years later.  We don’t know, in our lifetimes, the way God will use our suffering in the future, or is using it now.

Our task, while we live, is to unbind each other until the day the Risen One removes our death clothes once and for all.

How are you helping unbind people of their suffering?

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

One Comments to “Fifth Sunday in Lent – Cycle A”

  1. So true that we do not know the way God will use or is using our suffering. I can see how God has used past suffering to draw me nearer to him by SHOWING me how to unite my sufferings with his. Often people talk about uniting sufferings to christ or offering it up, it truly is a grace! THe most recent suffering was with regards to my daughter being diagnosed with food allergies (after several months of screaming, and us misguided parents thinking it was just colic). It led to a lot of dietary changes for her and the family which has been truly a lifestyle change (hardly eating out, challenges when eating with family/friends, etc. not to mention giving up lots of processed/convenient foods). We truly see the health benefits now, but aside from that I hope we can help others in similar situations. So to finally answer the question we hope to allow the Lord to use our past sufferings/experience to help others in similar situations like my friend who recently had a daughter who also is struggling with allergies. Mary mother of Lord, and our mother pray for us.

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