Monthly Archives: February 2012

First Sunday of Lent – Cycle B

26 February 2012

Reflecting on I Peter 3:18-22

Here’s a question:  When exactly did the gates of heaven open? Was it at the moment of the crucifixion (see Mt. 27: 52-53)? And where exactly did the spirit of Jesus go when his body lay in the “abode of death?”

The second reading today (I Peter 3: 18-22) suggests a tantalizing answer: In (the Spirit) he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah…

This enigmatic sentence became a scriptural basis for the section in the Apostles’ Creed that states “He descended into hell”.

We used to say that every Sunday, but what does it mean?  I love this portion of an ancient poem by an unknown Christian, speaking about this mystery:

The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.  He has gone to search for our first parents, gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve.  He took them by the hand and raised them up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.

 

How does time and space work with God?  Had “all who had ever slept since the world began” waited out those thousands of years in “real time”?  Or is there perhaps a “wrinkle in time”, a mere blink that separates this life (and death) from eternity?

 

Be at peace.  The God of heaven and earth (and under the earth) has gone in search of us.

Is it hard to imagine that hell might be empty?

With thanks to my dear friend Susan Maly, who lent me A Wrinkle in Time and set me on a whole new path of understanding all the things we’ll never understand.

 

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

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

19 February 2012

Reflecting on Mark 2:1-2

My friends Mary and Jim had been high school sweethearts, and they had kept their romance going through college while on opposite sides of the country.  But for a short time during the spring of their sophomore year they were a mere ninety miles away from each other.  And one night James Taylor showed up unexpectedly to give an impromptu concert to hundreds of astonished students in a little field on the Denver University campus.

That’s when the agony started, because Jim was right there and Mary was at college in Fort Collins. Jim had a front-row stump (there were no chairs in the field) watching James Taylor sing all the songs that he and Mary loved, and he spent the whole time longing for Mary to be there to share the experience with him.  That’s the thing about love.

I think about that as I relish the love that those four friends had for the paralytic in today’s Gospel.  Whatever it took, even carrying him across town and dropping him down through the roof, they were going to get their sick friend into the presence of Jesus.  The Healer was there, and they couldn’t be happy until their friend was touched by him. That’s the thing about love.

At some point in our lives, someone brought us to Jesus.  Perhaps it was our parents, who brought us to the doors of the church for baptism.  Perhaps it was a friend, who said “Come and see.”   Thanks be to God for their kindness, for now we too can say, “Oh, Jesus.  How sweet it is to be loved by you.”

Who are the friends in your life who would carry you across town to meet Jesus?

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

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

11 February 2012

Reflecting on Mark 1: 40-45

The leper, kneeling before Jesus, wonders if he wants to heal him.  If you wish, you can make me clean, he says.  But maybe you don’t wish it.  Maybe you’re a God with wonderful healing powers to relieve us of our suffering, our blindness, our lameness, our demon possession, but maybe you just don’t want to.  So you have to be coaxed and flattered and manipulated by those of us who are sick.

I admit I’ve approached God similarly.  Now listen, God, this is a little child we’re talking about here.  She’s suffering. You love little children, remember? You have the power to heal her.  If you want to you can heal her, God.  I know you can do it.  Let my words convince you to be merciful.

We think we have to sweet-talk God into being compassionate because, in spite of our prayers, our coaxing, our crying out to God, eventually we and the ones we love still die. God, if you want to you can save us from death! And if death comes anyway we conclude that God just doesn’t want to.

But I find great comfort in the translation in the 1966 Jerusalem Bible.  When the leper says to Jesus, if you want to you can make me clean, Jesus says of course I want to!

Of course I want to. That’s all we need to know.  Jesus our Healer wants to heal us.  Why we still suffer and die is a mystery that remains.  But death’s victory is short-lived, for the God who loves us knows where to find us after we have breathed our last.  And oh, what healing will begin then.

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

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

4 February 2012

Reflecting on Mark 1:29-39

 

Everyone is looking for you, Jesus.

 

We don’t realize it most of the time.  When we feel good, and our work is meaningful, and our family is well, we forget how deeply we long to find Jesus as the suffering believers encountered him in today’s Gospel.

But even just a few hours of illness can bring us to our knees, and when we experience the healing touch of Jesus through the doctors God sends us we feel a special connection with Simon’s mother-in-law, who rejoiced at her renewed strength and immediately rose from her bed and served Jesus.

The Book of Job gives us such a close look at suffering, and Job’s description of the “troubled nights” allotted to him ring true for anyone who has agonized over a child, the loss of a love, or the miseries of illness.  But Jesus our Healer stands with us.  And Job lived centuries too early to know him.

Everyone is looking for you, Jesus.

We are sick, Jesus.  Touch us.  We are still looking for work, Jesus.  Help us.  We are anxious, or doubtful, or seduced by the lies of this world that has forgotten to seek you.  Save us, Jesus.  Draw near to us so we can draw near to you.

Everyone is looking for you, Jesus. But the prophet Jeremiah has already spoken for you:  if you seek Me, you will find Me, if you seek Me with all of your heart, I will let Myself be found by you (29:13,14).

Look for Jesus this week.  He has promised to be found.

Have you placed yourself among friends who can help you find Jesus?

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