Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God – Cycle C

31 December 2012

One Christmas Eve, while on pilgrimage to Israel, my husband and I took a memorable walk to Bethlehem from Shepherd’s Field.  This is the field that remembers the sacred place where the shepherds—that group who were considered so unclean that their testimony was not honored in court—saw the angel, who entrusted to them the greatest news in the history of the world.  Then the heavens opened and they saw “a multitude of the heavenly host” praising God.

Ben and I decided to follow their footsteps from Shepherd’s Field that Christmas Eve afternoon.  We “went in haste” those three miles, which gradually got steeper as they led to the Church of the Nativity.  Breathless and with hearts bursting, we entered the church which, at Midnight Mass in ten hours, would be packed with pilgrims from around the world.  But at this moment we were alone.  We climbed down the dark stairs that led to the ancient cave where the shepherds found “Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.”  Then those shepherds, those “outlaws”, testified to them what they had been told about Jesus.

What peace we felt there in that cave on that Christmas Eve.  As we walked out into the December chill we promised to increase our own testimony of Jesus, and to work harder for peace on earth, and goodwill towards all.

Are there places in your heart that can’t embrace a God who has love for all people?

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

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – Cycle C

29 December 2012

Don’t you wish we knew more about the Holy Family?  We’d love to know about Joseph, the silent protector of Mary and Jesus.  He utters not a word in scripture, yet his docility in accepting God’s miraculous work, and his divine role in that unfolding, makes him the perfect model for all fathers. Imagine a world where children, especially sons, don’t have that “dad-sized hole” in their hearts where their fathers should have been.

The earliest artistic rendering of Mary is a fresco, c. 150 A.D., in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome.  It’s so touching to see her, protectively cradling Jesus, on this ancient wall upon which the martyrs of Rome carved their faith. About this time a book appeared, The First Gospel of James, which was immediately beloved by the Christian communities in Rome.  Though never accepted as part of the canon of the New Testament, it contrived to give background stories of Mary and Joseph that we crave to know even today.

When we see them in heaven we can ask them all our questions.

What would you most like to ask Joseph or Mary?

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 Day – Cycle C

26 December 2012

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.

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 C

26 December 2012

Reflecting on Luke 1: 39-45

Last year at this time I told you of the beautiful song The Visit, which recounts Mary’s encounter with her cousin Elizabeth (and her pre-born child John the Baptist).  I received more comments on the website which accompanies this column about that song than any column in three years.  I gratefully offer it again, reprinted with permission from Sr. Miriam Therese Winter of the Medical Missionary Sisters. And may you each, like Elizabeth, experience the joy of the presence of Christ, this Christmas and always.

THE VISIT

She walked in the summer, through the heat on the hill. She hurried as one who went with a will.

She danced in the sunlight when the day was done. Her heart knew no evening.  She carried the Sun.

Fresh as a flower at the first ray of dawn, she came to her cousin, whose morning had gone.

There leaped a little child in the ancient womb, and there leaped a little hope in every ancient tomb.

Hail, little sister you herald the spring. Hail, brave mother, you carried our King.

Hail to the Moment beneath your breast. May all generations call you blessed.

When you walk in the summer through the heat on the hill, when you’re one with the wind, and one with God’s will,

Be glad with the burden you are blessed to bear. For it’s Christ who you carry everywhere, everywhere… everywhere.

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 C

17 December 2012

Reflecting on Luke 3: 10-18

I like to imagine what John the Baptist would say to us if he saw us standing in line at the Jordan. “What should we do?” asked the crowd that had followed him into the wilderness.

He looked at each one and told them what particular thing was keeping them from the fulfilling the Law in their own lives.  “Stop cheating.”  “Stop extorting.” “Stop hoarding what you’ve got.”

Hmm.  So what would he say to us?  Imagine the Baptizer encountering us, leveling his refiner’s fire at us.  I suspect we would hear things like, “Stop being anxious.  Your heavenly Father knows what you need.”

Or, “Stop working so hard to provide things.  Your family needs YOU more than things.”  Or maybe, “Stop secretly harboring grudges.  Accept the grace to be healed of ancient wounds.”

Here’s an Advent assignment: imagine being face to face with the Baptist.  What would he require of you before plunging you in the water?

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 C

11 December 2012

Reflecting on Luke 3: 1-6

The Preaching of St. John the Baptist by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Recently, a friend gave me a birthday card that told some of the significant events that were occurring around the time of my birth.  I now know the President of the U.S.A., most popular song, and Best Movie the year I was born.  I am a product of the times in which I have lived. I like looking at my life from the lens of history.

St. Luke likes this too, and we begin our year-long reading of his gospel by being placed right into the historical setting of Israel, circa 27A.D.  We now know, thanks to him, that at the time of John’s ministry in the wilderness (which for Luke closes the time of waiting which the Old Testament prophets endured) there were some very dark, malevolent people on thrones in Judea and Galilee.  Not only are the Roman emperor, and Judean governor, and tetrarchs of the Galilee and Judea named, but the high priests in Jerusalem are also noted.  Each of these officials will play a much larger part in the history of the world than even Caesar imagined, for they participated in the unfolding of salvation history, which is eternal.

In the midst of all this pomp and treachery we hear a voice from far in the desert, crying out, “Prepare a way for the Lord!” He is a ragged man, this John.  He knows something; he senses that the One is drawing near.  As the rest of the Roman Empire busily raises up valleys and clears roadways for the coming of some officious bureaucrat, John demands that we raise the valleys of our lost hopes, and chisel down the mountains of our hardened hearts.  The King is coming.

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

First Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

1 December 2012

Presenting Megan and Micah Brewster

We had a family wedding last week, and I’m still dancing.  The beautiful, love-drunk bride and groom were so aglow with joy that the candle-lit church was no match for the light that radiated from them. They pronounced their vows to each other so graciously.  They were thrilled to bind themselves to each other, believing that those bonds will free them to love others even more perfectly.

Afterwards, at the reception, there was dancing.  Ecstatic, fun, hilarious dancing.  A sweet, eighteen-year-old cousin took turns twirling all his little cousins around and around, and as soon as they were spun out they ran right back to get in line to be twirled all over again.

Can you recall this delicious thrill of childhood, of being on a ride at a carnival and being utterly delighted, yet filled with dread of the moment the ride came to an end? As the great John Kavanaugh (he of blessed memory) wrote, the childhood we never leave is suspended between devastation and delight.

Advent is like that.  In the ever-quickening darkness we light the first candle.  We re-member (make happen again) the exhilaration of being weightless on a planet pulled by gravity.  We have already been the child whose ride finally ended.  We are not yet the child whose ride will never end.

Come, oh Child of wonder.  Come.

And congratulations, Megan and Micah.  Dance.

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