Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Nativity of the Lord – Cycle A

25 December 2010

Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas this year?  Because I’m sure I saw more presents for you, hidden under the tree and tucked away in secret places where you can find them at just the perfect time.

Here’s one addressed to you from “Heartfelt Compassion”.  This present will open itself for you.  You’ll feel your heart break open as you feel “’with passion” the daily struggle of a relative whose addiction has already strained the bonds of love in your family.  It’s okay.  Feel that tenderness and love for your broken relative once again.  It’s Christmas for them too, with all its promises of God with us.

This next gift goes with it, so open up “Kindness” too.  This is SUCH a perfect gift for you because it will keep surprising you all year!  Watch for that thoughtful stranger who says, “I can see that you’re in a hurry and just have a few things to buy.  Jump ahead of me.”  It will show up in the surprise letter of gratitude from an old friend, or the sweet gift of taking out the trash which your spouse does every single day without saying a word.  Or maybe it will be your adult child, who calls and says, “Remember how hard I fought to get you to let me hang out with my friends when I was fourteen?  I’ve never thanked you for holding your ground and keeping me safe.”

There are lots more presents, and they all have your name on them.  They are from Emmanuel, who promises to be with you in every struggle and every joy of the coming year.  Merry Christmas.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

What is your favorite memory of God’s presence with 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 © 2014-2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

18 December 2010

Reflecting on Matthew 1:18-24

Do you know this old joke?

Johnny:  Mom, I get to play St. Joseph in the Christmas program!

Mom:    Go back and tell Sister you want a speaking part.

It’s true.  Joseph doesn’t utter a single word in any of the Gospels, and if it weren’t for Matthew, with his unique memory of St. Joseph’s saving role in the protection of Mary throughout her pregnancy―and  of the Mother and Child after the birth, with the dangerous flight into Egypt and eventual return― we wouldn’t know much about St. Joseph at all.

As early as the second century, writers began adding their own imaginative additions to the scant information given in the Gospels about both Mary and Joseph.

In those books we learn that Joseph was a widower with several children; hence the several occurrences of the New Testament phrase “the brothers and sisters of the Lord”.  (That’s one reason he is often drawn as an old man in Nativity scenes.)  In these stories, Mary lived in the Temple.  When she was fourteen all the unmarried men from the royal lineage of David were summoned so that her spouse could be chosen.   Calling on the prophecy from Isaiah that we heard last week―a branch shall come forth from the family of Jesse, a blossom shall bud from that tree―they all brought branches and extended them.  And sure enough!  The Holy Spirit descended on Joseph’s branch.

That’s why St. Joseph is often depicted in art as holding a branch with a blossom on the top.

Never mind that St. Jerome later said “phooey” to the stories by simply translating “brothers” as “cousins” and ending the need to create stories to line up with theology.  There’s something charming about it anyway.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

What customs do you share about St. Joseph?

This column was written in my head while having a fascinating conversation with my friend and greatest teacher, Sr. Macrina Scott, OSF, who once again opened me up to the wideness and depth of our Catholic traditions, some of which made it into Scripture!

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

Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

11 December 2010

Reflecting on James 5:7-10

It’s easy to tell someone to be patient, and so hard to actually do it.  Our children need us to watch them closely, but they also need enormous amounts of “looking the other way” as they mature and eventually find their way in the world without us.

Our aging parents need our patience.  As they deal with the greatest losses in life―loss of health, loss of memory―they need us to care for them, finding creative ways to help them recover strength and well-being in an increasingly unsettling world.

We need to be patient with ourselves, too.  Real change―changes in how we eat, how we live, how we regain strength after surgery or an illness―will surely come.  Just as the farmer awaits the yield of the soil by waiting for both the early and the late rains, we watch ourselves for the changes we work on little by little through the years.

Last spring I had an ingrown toenail removed.  The whole event took about six months.  The new nail grew in as the old nail died.  I could actually see the boundary between death and new life every time I examined my toe. We don’t see that transition as clearly in other parts of our lives until, one day, we look at someone we love and ask, “When did you get so tall?  So beautiful?  So self-assured?  When did you grow into yourself?”

Patience, people.  God is surely at work in us, giving us grace and insight as the years go by.  Watch for the changes in yourself that signal that the Lord has been near all along.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

How can you help God help you make a real change?

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

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

4 December 2010

Reflecting on Isaiah 11:1-10

Ah, the peaceable kingdom.  How we long for the day when the wolf shall be guest of the lamb, and the calf and the young lion browse together.  But how on earth (and in heaven) do we build it?

Peaceable Kingdom, painting Edward Hicks

I recently came across a letter from my childhood friend Gloria, written on the occasion of my mother’s death.  I’ve saved it all these years because I need to take in the comfort that her words still give me:  Kathy, you loved your mom so well. Don’t make yourself sick in the years to come agonizing that you didn’t do enough. I stand as a witness to your life, and I’m telling you that you loved her well.

And then the peace comes.  And flowing from that peace comes the grace to send similar letters to people I know who may need an extra infusion of love today.  Is there anybody in my life I can let off the hook?  Is there anyone to whom I can say, “That little thing?  Are you kidding?? Don’t even worry about it!  I totally forgot about it a million years ago.”

Is there a friend or relative whose entire DNA is completely foreign to you, whose behavior is consistently grating, whose past offenses haven’t been nearly as itemized and publicized as they should be?  Tap into the grace that is always there―the kingdom of God is within you―and see them as God does, who has been the constant witness to their life and wants to heal them today, through you.

There is no peace until we are each at peace, and it begins now.  Find someone to be extra gracious to today.  And then stand back and watch the kingdom break forth.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

Have you ever seen someone differently when you look through God’s eyes?

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