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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

Christmas - Cycle A

15 Comments to “The Nativity of the Lord – Cycle A”

  1. KATHY MY FRIEND THIS IS SO WARM AND BEAUTIFUL. WHAT A GOLDEN HEART YOU HAVE. GOD BLESS YOU AND MERRY CHRISTMAS. I AM SICK AND CAN’T GO TO MASS TONIGHT OR TOMORROW AND I WAS DOWN AND THIS PICKED ME UP! LOVE YOU BIG,
    BECKY

  2. So many happy Christmas memories fill my heart tonight on Christmas Eve, but I cannot forget this: the hushed and darkened church before Midnight Mass when the choir sang those achingly familiar hymns; the bags of groceries for the food pantry piled around the nativity scene; seeing the white and gold vestments after a season of somber purple; the drowsy smiles of family and friends. And when I was old enough to pay attention to the prayers of the liturgy, my most cherished memory is waiting each year for that glorious Solemn Blessing as a sort of reward for staying awake: “When he came to us as man, the Son of God scattered the darkness of this world, and filled this holy night with his glory.” It felt so TRUE in the dark hours before dawn in that Colorado winter. Being there with my family in the parish I loved was sure proof of the nearness of God.

    And, of course, Kathy was there too with that heavenly, soaring voice that blessed the night. I will always associate her ministry — then and now — with another line from that night’s blessing: “May he fill you with joy and make you heralds of his gospel. Amen.” For surely her work on this site is nothing if not proclaiming the gospel, sharing the joy that is so alive in her.

  3. You are so correct, MichaelCarlos — I have been convinced for years that Kathy smiles in her sleep! What a great message, Kathy, and Merry Christmas! It is a gift in itself to be aware of all the “little” and even not so little kindnesses God provides for us through other people every day. I LOVED your examples. Becky, feel better soon. Sometimes, when I’m sick, I think it helps me appreciate all the times I’m NOT sick and am able to be where I want to be when I want to be there. A gift of life from God. It’s the greatest gift! Merry Christmas to all of you — the blessings on this website — who enrich my life every day.

  4. THANK YOU BREBIS, I HOPE THE ANTIBIOTICS KICK IN SOON. NOW THAT I READ THE QUESTION LET ME TRY THIS AGAIN. I LIKE MICHAEL’S REMEMBER THE BEAUTY OF THE MIDNIGHT MASS THE CHOIR LOFT FILLED WITH THE VOICES OF ANGELS, I’M SURE THEY HAD TO BE! KATHY UP FRONT THE DARK CHURCH AND THE SUDDEN HERALD OF THE NEW BORN KING, RAINING DOWN ON US. GOOSE BUMPS RAN FROM HEAD TO TOE EVER SINGLE YEAR. I WAS BLESSED TO BE IN ON THE PREPARATIONS THAT LED UP TO THOSE MOMENTS TOO, HOURS OF MAKING COPIES AT THE RECTORY AND WHATEVER I WAS ASKED TO DO JUST MADE IT MORE MEANINGFUL TO ME. FATHER WOULD ORDER PIZZA A PIECE ON THE RUN TO FUEL OUR AMBITION, PEOPLE RUNNING AND WORKING ALL CHRISTMAS EVE DAY FOR THAT MOST GRAND CELEBRATION OF THE OF GOD’S SON TAKING ON FLESH A GOD A MAN. OH YES KATHY YOU ARE IN SOME OF MY MOST WARM MEMORIES OF CHRISTMAS. AND MY FAVORITE SONG “MARY HAD A BABY” OF COURSE.

  5. UMM! THIS IS WHY I SHOULDN’T WRITE A COMMENT WHILE RUNNING A FEVER. SORRY EVERYONE!

  6. Kathy,

    Your words touched our hearts in a special way this Christmas.
    God bless you!

  7. Kathy,
    Thank you for all your reflections this past year, and ESPECIALLY the ones from the last four weeks. They just keep getting better and better. I will keep praying with each one of them individually, because they tug at a different part of my heart and encourage me to grow in different places of my life. Advent has come and gone, but we can always ask the Lord for more of His presence, and we can can always grow more to encourage Him, right?
    My favorite memory of God’s presence is once hearing a sermon about Jesus inviting Matthew to follow him, and later, eating at Matthew’s house. Something dawned on me, while I was hearing how important, even holy, in Jesus’ culture, eating with someone was. That when Jesus ate with “sinners” (which we all are), it meant something wondrous that I didn’t entirely understand. It then came to me that I could ask Jesus to eat with my son and his ex-wife, and it would help my grandson as well as them. Somehow I KNEW Jesus heard me when I asked. He WOULD eat with them together, a meal for their spirits, my grandson’s, and mine. I kept praying for it all week and longer, and thought of the table, the bread, etc. I knew Jesus was present to us. I knew the result was not mine to know, in the direct way something is known. But in the months to come, or years, I would possibly attribute something good to that with a question mark. The only thing I could know for sure is that Jesus DID HEAR my prayer and was surely answering. I don’t think I’ve been as certain about anything in my life.
    That’s my favorite memory of His presence.
    This is a belated wish for a wonderful Christmas season for Kathy and everyone who shares on the web site. Thanks to everyone for everything you write on here. I’m grateful for everyone’s thoughts and reflections, and the sharing of your hearts.

  8. Dear friends,

    I came down tonight to check on the site to make sure all of your comments had been posted, and now I find myself with a heart full of all the love that you have pointed straight in my direction.

    I began this website guessing (rightly) that the primary users would be graduates of the Denver Catholic Biblical School, who are experts at small-group sharing of the Scriptures. But I realize that the sacred liturgical feasts bring to the site those of us who share the same deathless DNA: a gut-deep love of the Prayer of the Church, the liturgical year, and the music which has owned us since our own First Noel.

    And so Becky and Gregory and Michael Carlos, my beloved friends who shared those most joyous years of my life in the 1980s at St. Rose of Lima Church in Denver, were among the many warm contributors this weekend. Thank you for your loving words to me tonight. You have placed more Kindness and Heartfelt Compassion under my tree than I can even absorb.

    And Bishop Evans! And John Dold! And Jack Loughran! And Mary Frances and Bill! And Helen and Chuck! And Vivian! And Lily! And how will I ever stop if I start re-membering?

    And thank you, every single one of the dozens of you who have reflected this year, and then taken the time to share with our hundreds of readers your own deep insights into the Scriptures we all love. Your contributions have been my Christmas presents from you every day all year.

    And thank you, wonderful Peg Williams, for creating and managing this beautiful website and making this long-held dream of mine come true every day. Peg, so many people ask me about the creative genius behind this website. Here she is, world. If you want to see her in action, go to http://www.hebconnect.com and watch how she connects people from Heritage Eagle Bend. She’s presently connecting many thousands of people in communities all over the U.S. with her chain of “connects”.

    And so, as we begin this Year of Matthew we ask ourselves if God is really with us. Here’s my answer: In every dream. In every star. In every silent night.

    Let’s keep watch together.
    Kathy

  9. Kathy,
    You have this special gift of always uncovering that which is essential.
    By doing so, you serve as a compass for us to look always to the True North.
    God bless you for being a source of grace for many of us.
    Cris

  10. Your reflections have been your Christmas gifts to me each week, Kathy; and your sunny smile that belies all the trial and sorrow that touches you; and your warmth and welcoming to all, at all times. I went to midnight mass this year with great anticipation, realizing that my advent and waiting had begun to move into the background almost as this 2010 Advent began. Christ was filling my heart, taking away the despair that had taken up residency there, and His coming was a truly physical experience. The joy of Christ’s coming again was indescribable: I am redeemed, again, just as unworthy as all the previous redemptions by the great love of Our Lord. I awoke Christmas morning full of peace and joy; and then the phone call came. My mother had died almost at the exact moment I had wakened. Sadness, yes. But, I rejoice that my mother, a woman full of life and laughter in years past, has been released from a crippled body and mind, to party again. And, she was called home in time to share in the jubilant celebration of Christ’s birth, to be able to dance again right there among all the angels and saints! Hallelujah! The gifts of friendship, love, compassion, kindness, support have been flowing into my life moment by moment these past two and a half days. And I am filled with gratitude, for God IS with me, and my mom is with me.

  11. Lee, all of the readers on this site send our warmest condolences to you on the death of your mom. How exactly perfect that she went to God on Christmas Day, and at the very same time you had wakened after a late night at Midnight Mass. Watch for miracles now as she, no longer confined by time and space, is able to intercede for you and help you. We will all watch with you.

  12. Dear Lee, my heart goes out to you at the death of your mom. I know the pain and grief of your loss and will hold you close in my heart.
    I had many gifts under the Christmas tree, blessings of health, of the joy of family and friends around my table to share a meal, sharing stories of holidays past, looking forward to a new year, many gifts of love and treasure. One of the best is the reuniting of friendship with my sister, estranged for nearly five years. Oh, the joy of the phone call a few weeks ago, the path of love and forgiveness, the looking forward to the future, a new year of the joining of our families again. The star is shining ahead for each of us. Kathy, you have shined your light on all of us, given us an opportunity to share, to continue on the path, not in the dark, but in the bright sun! I love you ~ Vivian

  13. Lee, I am sorry that you have to face this terrible grief of losing your mother. Kathy is correct, however, in that, if you pay attention, you will receive much consolation from friends AND your mother. Listen closely and never doubt the communion of saints, which is a remarkable grace from God!

  14. My heart goes out to you, Lee. Even though belief in Jesus gives us hope, it is still difficult to let go. My mom died several years ago at the beginning of December. She loved Christmas and all the decorations. While she was in the hospital, she kept asking me about my progress with decorating. Every year we put up the tree together and talked about all the ornaments, where they came from, what memories they held, how old they were. Since my mom’s death, whenever I put up the tree myself, I have a spiritual conversation with my mom.
    Years before, when my dad was sick with cancer that was not yet diagnosed, he pulled all his energy together to decorate because my mom had hurt her back and couldn’t. It was a labor of love and his last Christmas with us. I remember his courage in the midst of his physical suffering.
    A Polish tradition that is very important to me is breaking “oplatek” or the Christmas wafer on Christmas Eve. At a meatless meal with special foods, everyone gets a piece of the wafer. We go from person to person, breaking a piece of the other’s oplatek and wishing each other whatever comes from the heart. It’s an opportunity for well-wishing, giving of self, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing. Done in the midst of prayer, it always speaks to me of God’s presence. Because this has been a part of every one of my December 24th celebrations, Christmas wouldn’t feel right without this ritual.

  15. Kathy, thank you for all the wisdom that you share. I loved the idea of all those “other” kinds of gifts under the tree. I hope that you found what your heart and soul desire wrapped in beautiful paper and bows. What a different world it would be if we all engaged our kindness and compassion gifts this coming year. Blessings to you and all those you hold dear.

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