Easter – Cycle B

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

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

1 May 2021

Reflecting on John 15: 1-8

Can you imagine what you would look like if everything in your life that wasn’t bearing fruit got pruned away? I’d be a scarecrow.  I’ve got boxes of book ideas that have never seen the light of day. I’ve got the most well-meaning projects— scrapbooks, video memories, clothes I’m going to fit back into—that sit in mute witness against me every time I open the closet and the drawer.

But today I think you should take inventory of all the things that ARE bearing fruit in your life. You’ve stayed faithful to your parish community. You’ve read, and studied, and stayed apprised of the readings for Mass. You somehow kept your families together during the pandemic. Nobody starved (I’m assuming). You stayed close with, and available to, your kids and grandkids, your siblings and parents, even if you couldn’t see them in person.

Think of the people you know who bear much fruit—literally. I’m thinking of the people who stock the produce section of the grocery store. I always compliment them on how fresh and delicious the fruits and vegetables look. I’m always touched at how much pride they take in their work. Being close to the vine every day produces a holy person, I think.

A lifetime of conscious participation in the life of the Church keeps us bearing fruit too. I know so many people whose good works haven’t slowed down during the shutdown. In fact, people who were already “doing too much” doubled their efforts to get food to the hungry, and to show love in a thousand ways.

And love, said St. Teresa of Calcutta, is a fruit in season at all times.

How is God glorified through the fruit of your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

24 April 2021

Reflecting on John 10: 1-18

Is anybody besides me worried that, once the pandemic is officially over, and the restaurants, and schools, and libraries, and gyms are all back to the Roaring Twenties, our churches won’t recover the numbers they had before?

I’m worried that it was so easy to stay home on Sunday and worship virtually that, once the virtual Masses are no more, the staying home will remain. With all my heart I hope not, because the Good News is that we have SO MUCH that the world needs, now more than ever.

As we all emerge from the darkness of shutdown into the light of traffic, and sports contests, and catching up with family and friends, will we yearn for that spiritual connection with our parishes, with the hymns we sang in community, with the hundreds of vital good works in which every parish engages?

Of course yes. Just this past weekend I saw parishioners I didn’t know before the shutdown. I met them on ZOOM, in classes our parish held as one of its many creative approaches to keeping us connected. It was such fun to meet these new friends in person! There must be dozens of new friends I’ve made through these ZOOM events. We’ve all said we can’t wait to finally meet, face to face (or mask to mask), when this is all over.

What good is there in knowing Jesus, the Good Shepherd, if the sheep don’t come when they hear his voice? The world is desperate for the healing and joy that we sheep can bring to the world in his Name. Let’s all fill our churches again, that the world might live.

How do you hear the Good Shepherd calling you?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Third Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

17 April 2021

Reflecting on Lk. 24: 35-48

The Lebanese-American writer Kahlil Gibran had it right, I think, when he spoke of grief. He described death as an incense bead which doesn’t break open until a loved one’s death. Then its perfume fills the room. “Death is the revealer of life,” he said. It’s only at death that the fullness of someone’s life breaks open.

All of a sudden we see them more clearly, and with so much more love (and longing) than we even did in life.

I suspect that happened for the disciples of Jesus. After his horrible death, the fullness of his life, and the meaning of his death, broke open. Now they had the rest of their lives to regret not loving him better, not staying and praying with him in the Garden, not fleeing from the Cross but, instead, staying and dying with him.

Maybe that’s what they were all saying, through their heartbreak and tears, that Easter evening. They may have been remembering, over and over, the precious moments they shared with him in his life, and accusing themselves of the grossest ignorance in not understanding who he was, and to what he had called them.

And then. Two disciples from Emmaus came running into that Upper Room with the most astonishing news. He’s alive! And we recognized him in the Breaking of the Bread! And no sooner had they announced this glorious news than Jesus Himself stood among them. And suddenly, nothing was ever the same again.

Are you longing for a deceased loved one? Imagine them just entering into your room right now. Oh, what endless joy! They are alive.

Trust this vision. Trust Jesus. They are alive.

How do you experience the presence of your deceased loved ones?

Kathy McGovern © 2021

Divine Mercy Sunday – Cycle B

10 April 2021

Reflecting on John 20: 19-31

Thirty years ago my cousin Patty, the purest soul I’ve ever known, was on her way to Marianne Williamson’s class A Course in Miracles in the Bay Area. Stepping off the bus, she was approached by an armed assailant. Doing as she’d been trained to do while living in a dangerous city in dangerous times, she dropped her purse and ran for her life. He shot her in the back anyway. Risen One, where was your MERCY then?

Three weeks ago another young man suffering from mental illness, armed to the teeth with combat weapons he bought legally, murdered ten beautiful humans in a grocery store. Risen One, where was your MERCY then?

Here in Colorado, of course, we’ve lost the Triple Crown. We can’t go to high school, the movies, or the grocery store. Young men suffering from mental illness, but clear-headed enough to plant bombs and hide assault weapons, have stripped us of the slightest veneer of safety we may feel for ourselves or for those we love. O Risen One, where is your MERCY now?

Well, the MERCY is here with us, holding out his pierced wrists and exposing his punctured side. Here, he says to us, touch my wounds. Feel my agony. Now hold out your hands and let me touch yours.

Okay. I’ll take that invitation.  Here, Jesus. Feel my wounds. I can’t look at those darling young faces, those dear older faces, and please, please don’t make me hear one single thing about the people who love them.

He touches my wounds, and holds my bleeding hands, and my broken heart. And we both weep. That’s where the MERCY is now.

Where do you most need to feel God’s MERCY now?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Easter Sunday – Cycle B

3 April 2021

Reflecting on Acts 10: 34a, 37-43

Why didn’t everyone living in Jerusalem see the Risen One?  Acts says: Godgranted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us…(10: 40-41). I know that if I had seen Him hanging on the cross that awe-full Friday, I would have felt cheated that he didn’t appear to me, RAISED and RADIANT, that glorious Sunday.

Even Peter and the Beloved Disciple, after racing to the tomb, left without actually SEEING Jesus. It was only Mary Magdalene, whose story follows today’s gospel in John 10: 11-18, who actually saw him, and at first even she mis-took him for the gardener.

Balaam, the famous “seer,” couldn’t see God’s huge angel right there in the road (Nm. 22). And Elisha’s servant couldn’t see God until Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes to see the hills full of angelic chariots all around (2 Kgs. 6:17).

Most telling of all, Jesus’ own disciples spent Easter Sunday on the road with him and didn’t recognize him until the Breaking of the Bread (Lk. 24: 13-35). Jesus eventually appeared to over five hundred believers, according to St. Paul, who admits he got the story from Peter (I Cor. 15: 5-8). We have seen the Lord! they cried with joy. Lucky them.

But maybe he HAS appeared, to everyone who longed for him that day, and the billions who have longed for him since. Maybe we have felt his Presence, and sensed his nearness, countless times in our lives.

So let me ask you: who was that with you, in the Delivery Room, on your First Communion Day, at the graveside of a loved one? Ah. Of course. Lucky you. You have seen the Lord.

Where do you look for the Risen Lord these days?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Pentecost Sunday – Cycle B

22 May 2018

Reflecting on Acts 2: 1-11

Come, Holy Spirit.

Like a mighty wind, hover over North Korea and the U.S.

Like tongues of fire, rain down

Wisdom, and Right Counsel,

Understanding, and Fortitude,

Piety, and, oh yes, Fear of the Lord.

 

Come, Holy Spirit.

As you did at creation,

Move upon the waters.

Still volcanoes and earthquakes,

Hurricanes and tornadoes,

Violent rains

And deadly droughts.

 

Come, Holy Spirit.

Heal the wounded in mind and in body.

Change our hearts.

Change our laws.

Change our lives.

Renew us, Spirit, into your servants.

Then uphold us as we renew the face of the earth.

How are you working to serve the Holy Spirit?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

 

The Ascension of the Lord – Cycle B

12 May 2018

Reflecting on Acts 1: 1-11

Okay, Church. It’s time for our annual Pentecost novena. You may have already started yours last Thursday (on the official Ascension, which most of us now celebrate on the Sunday before Pentecost). Either way, now is the time for all of us to engage in a full-court press to pray for the needs of our families, our cities, our country and our world. Let’s start by praying for all of our mothers, living and dead.

Speaking of mothers, recall that Mary and the disciples kept the first Pentecost novena. They stayed in Jerusalem for the eight days between the Ascension and the day of Pentecost, praying for the descent of the Spirit. After that event, the strength to persevere in prayer was given to all of us. Each year provides more and more opportunities for us to partner with the Holy Spirit in renewing the face of the earth.

What are you storming heaven for during this novena? I had a pretty good list made up, all around our domestic problems of gun violence, advocacy for those with mental illness, and cures for all the diseases which break our hearts. I’ve recently become aware of a family of young girls who are fighting Batten Disease. Google that and count your blessings.  I was moving on to list the other diseases for which I’m praying for cures when I thought to google “world’s worst diseases.”  That’s a grim google search, but I recommend it on the off chance that your list is too short.

There are human rights abuses around the world that cry out for justice and relief. This is just a starter list. Grab a prayer partner and pound on heaven’s door. Pray for God’s kingdom, and for the grace to work toward making that kingdom come.

What will be the top three prayers in your Pentecost novena?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

7 May 2018

Reflecting on I John 4: 7-10

Do you sometimes have to dig deep in order to love some of the “unlovables” in your life? It’s probably more the case that, at certain times, on certain days, any of us is pretty unlovable. That letter of John today gives us all the energy we need, though, to have graciousness and patience in situations that can be trying. It’s so easy.

Just reflect for the tiniest moment on all the ways God has loved you. When you are tempted to say something unkind, just think of the thousands of times when people were kinder to you than you deserved. When you want to avoid eye contact with that compulsively needy talker, remember the endless patience of those who loved you through your annoying adolescence.

Sometimes the very quickest touch-point for the love of God is to simply look out the window. Oh my gosh! Look what happened on your street overnight. Trees that were barren yesterday are suddenly bursting with green. Apple blossoms are painting the trees pink and white. Spring flowers are starting to pull up out of the earth, and all creation is groaning with the delight of new birth. Oh, yeah. God’s love for us is impossible to miss.

So, as John’s letter says, it’s not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us! St. Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, advises us to pay attention. Look around! Remember! Breathe in the love of God which is all around you, in your sleeping spouse, your healthy kids, your restored health, your meaningful work. Find your particular gratitude, and that will be the strength that flows to help you love others. It’s easy.

What immediately comes to your mind when you remember God’s love for you?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

28 April 2018

Reflecting on Acts 9: 26-31

My friend Joni used to have this plaque hanging over her fireplace: Lord, thank you for everything I know today. And forgive me for everything I thought I knew yesterday. I think of that wonderful message when I consider Saul, he of the inherited Roman citizenship and perfect Jewish pedigree, the Pharisee who was the son of a Pharisee, breathing fire as he self-righteously marched to Damascus in order to arrest any Christians living there.

Here’s a guy who knew who was right and who was wrong, who was in and who was out. No one was a fiercer persecutor of the infant Church than he. And yet, when a light flashed around him and struck him to the ground, he had the grace to ask, “Who are you?” He heard, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

And that was that. All of history tilted at the moment when Saul, the tri-lingual Jewish defender of Orthodoxy, the one person who was as comfortable in the big cities as in the backwater, unincorporated, lawless badlands of the far-flung Roman empire, asked Jesus for his identity. He spent the rest of his life, in synagogues and law courts, in Gentile marketplaces and desolate prisons, telling everyone he met about that identity. There are no records of the event, but we can feel sure that he was still preaching Jesus to his executioners as they leveled the sword against his head.

He risked it all so that we might know Jesus. Thank you, St. Paul. You’ve shown us how to admit that we sometimes get it wrong.

What example can you give of having the humility to admit that you were wrong?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

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