Monthly Archives: January 2011

Fourth Week of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

29 January 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 5:1-12a

I’ve experienced the blessing of being poor in spirit several times.  There was the day I sang a whole wedding Mass with the back of my skirt hooked on to my pantyhose.  Or the time I chose a lovely silk smock from the hanger at the hair salon, and as the stylist was putting my head in the water an exceptionally kind older woman touched me on the shoulder and said, “Honey, I think you’re wearing my blouse.”

I could do this all day.  My life is a series of horrible moments that have brought me this self-revelation: I am just faking it here.

And that’s the blessing.  The kingdom of God is just this: a deep and joyful awareness that God is God, and I’m not.  Scripture scholar Reginald Fuller said, after studying today’s reading from Zephaniah and the Gospel’s Beatitudes, “on the day of the Lord the only ground of security is humility.”  Not self-hate.  Not breast-beating.  Just the awareness that, at any moment, the world will see that We are just faking it here. But God upholds us and strengthens us.

Try to bring back an embarrassing experience.  Hold it.  Let it take your breath away again.  Bow your head under its terrible weight.  And now wrap it around you as a warm coat, a safeguard against the cold winds of assurance, arrogance, superiority, dominance.  And let the blessing warm you like a peppermint schnapps’ by the fire.  God is God and you aren’t.  Whew.  What a huge relief.   What a burden lifted.  What a blessing.

In what ways has a humbling experience blessed 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

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

22 January 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 4:12-23, I Corinthians 1:1-3

What would it be like to just leave it all behind?  Say, for example, that you and your brother were in your father’s fishing boat, mending the nets, and the Rabbi came close to your boat and called you each by your name?  What would it be like to just jump off the boat and go with him?

They left their nets behind

Or what if you were a tax collector for the Romans, counting two for them and one for you, and the Rabbi passed by your booth?  What would it be like to just walk away, with the chips still on the table?

Or what if you were in the middle of an argument with your kid, and you were right and she was wrong, and this was finally your chance to wipe that smirk off her face, and instead the Rabbi looked straight into your heart, and you just stopped, and held your tongue, and actually listened―actually heard her and put yourself into her world and her place of powerlessness?

Or what if somebody liked to talk about his candidates and his take on immigration reform, and instead of feeling your heart rate go up and your face getting red, instead of saying I’m for Obama! or I’m for Palin!, the Rabbi entered the room, and you saw and felt the fears and frustrations of your friend, and you walked away from the argument and walked into an actual, real friendship based on real listening and real hearing?

What if the Rabbi was walking toward you right now, calling your name?  My guess is that, if you’re reading this, he already has.

In what ways do you feel yourself bending to the will of the Rabbi?

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

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

17 January 2011

Reflecting on John 1: 29-34

In this first post-Christmas week it’s fun to think about the dates the Church has chosen to remember the conception and birth of both Jesus and Mary.  The Feast of the Annunciation is March 25th, so of course Jesus is born a perfect nine months later. Mary’s birthday of September 8th is a perfect nine months after her immaculate conception on December 8th.  Ah, yes.  Isn’t that how all pregnancies end, with a birth just exactly nine months later?

That I may decrease, and he may increase.

Since the real dates of these events are unknown, the Church used the opportunity to teach certain theologies.  One of the loveliest moments in the liturgical calendar is the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, that key New Testament figure whom the Gospel lingers over again today.  Since Mary visited Elizabeth when her cousin was six months pregnant and stayed three months until the birth (Luke 1:26-56), that puts the birth of John the Baptist (June 24th) right around the summer solstice.  So, as the days begin to decrease the great herald comes into the world―that I may decrease, and he may increase―and as the days begin to increase (December 25th) the Light to the nations is born.

I love it when scripture and the liturgical year kiss.

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

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – Cycle A

8 January 2011

Reflecting on Matthew 3: 13-17

 

We watched Him three years ago as he stood with the rest of the sinners, waiting to be dipped in the cold waters of the Jordan.  It was just the beginning of the dry season, so the river was full and running fast.  We had come out to see John, and to hear him preach about repentance.  He reminded us of Elijah, seeing him like that out in the desert with his garment of camel’s hair, raging against the very people who thought they were God’s favorites.

It’s the dry season again now.  John has been dead for awhile, beheaded by the king who didn’t like being called a sinner.  John knew the risks.

Come to think of it, Jesus was always with sinners.  When he was just a little boy he had visitors from the East who weren’t even Jewish.  He called his disciples from fishing boats instead of from the Temple.  He ate with tax collectors and even prostitutes.  And now he has been crucified, with a sinner on his right and on his left.

It’s as if he wanted us to know, from that very day of his baptism, that he is with us always, even as we stand in the cold waters and wait for redemption.

 

 

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

In what ways are you activating the graces of your baptism?

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

Solemnity of the Epiphany – Cycle A

1 January 2011

Reflecting on Isaiah 60:1-6.  Matthew 2:1-12

More and more, we found ourselves searching the skies.   For the past two years we felt drawn to this particular Star, this particular Light.  It called to us, even in the daylight, and at night it drew us to Itself so intensely that one night we just set out to follow It.

Adoration of the Wise Men - Murillo (1617-1682)

Its light never dimmed, and we felt its heat and healing so strongly that we were actually pulled into It ourselves, so that we shone with a Light we’d never known we possessed.

We arrived in Jerusalem and found ourselves in the land of the Jews, those ancient people we had heard so much about.  Where is your newborn King? we asked, for we too had been longing for him.  King Herod, that violent murderer whose evil deeds had also reached us in the east, summoned us and told us to look for Him in the tiny city of Bethlehem.  Bethlehem!  The very city where their great King David was born!  Then the Star appeared and led us to the very house where we found the tiny King and his mother.

We were radiant at what we saw; our hearts were throbbing and overflowing with joy.  We offered our gifts to the King who called us from a faraway land, from our loneliness and darkness, into His own wonderful light.

We’ve been different ever since.  Our sadness, our emptiness, our addictions, our resentments, our lack of hope for the world and for ourselves―all of that melted away when we found Him whom our hearts had sought.

We didn’t return to Herod.  We went home another way.  That’s what being transformed by the Light can do for you.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

Are there places, people or things you have left behind in order to follow Him?

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