Monthly Archives: February 2013

Second Sunday of Lent – Cycle C

25 February 2013

Reflecting on Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18

We’ve had so many beautiful, clear nights this winter that I’ve taken to stopping just before going in the door at home and looking up at the skies.  The stars hang in the sky like diamonds, and it always shocks me a bit that this immense galaxy holds such beauty just above my little house.

Of course, my friends in Africa, and Israel, and Norway tonight will look on the very stars that light the doorway of my house.  As musical composer Chris Tomlin wrote so gracefully, “God of wonder, beyond our galaxy, you are holy, holy.”

I like to imagine the stars in that desert sky when God told Abram to count them, if he could.  Now, this is even more amazing when we consider that it was daylight when God issued this challenge!  (We surmise this because later, in verse 17, it says, “When the sun had set and it was dark”.  No wonder he couldn’t count them!)

Anyway, the current estimate is that there are three thousand million billion stars in our galaxy alone. That’s how many descendants Abram was to have. Well, if you count every Jew, Christian, and Muslim who has ever lived (and apparently no one ever has counted them, but I’ll keep googling), certainly they comprise the tiniest fraction of the number of stars. So, apparently the children of Abraham still have a long time to live on the earth.  If my visits to the Muslim and Jewish quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem are any indication, Abraham’s descendants continue to multiply at a great rate.

It’s the beauty of the image of this great promise that catches my heart when I gaze upwards at night.  Count the stars?  Of course we can’t.  But God, the Intelligent Designer, used the astounding stars to capture our imagination: all creation is in an eternal covenant with the merciful and awesome God of Wonder.

Do you like to star-gaze?

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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 Lent – Cycle C

17 February 2013

Reflecting on Luke 4: 1-13

I always get a little chill when I think about that single instant in which Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.  It’s fascinating to consider what the evangelist thought Jesus saw.  Luke knew about ancient Egypt and Greece, but he had no idea that there were civilizations unknown to him (but not to Satan, apparently) far to the east that had been flourishing for over two millennia.

I don’t imagine that Jesus, who was present at the creation of the world, was  surprised when Satan showed him North China, or the Indus Valley, or Africa, or even the kingdoms of the Americas, the existence of which would not even be known by people in the Middle East for another 1400 years.  Those histories, which are still unfolding through the work of archaeologists and nature’s own ingenious way of revealing the past, were certainly in the mind of God before the beginning of time.  The spooky part is that they are in Satan’s mind too.

And what did Jesus see, in that instant, of the kingdoms to come?  The fall of the Roman Empire, the vast reach of Islam, the “New World” and its diverse indigenous peoples, the bloody revolutions, the abundant harvests, the great cities and the thousands of agrarian communities were revealed in an instant.  He saw the “little man” of Assisi.  He also saw Auschwitz.

Three years later, after Satan had returned to enter Judas and to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22), Jesus saw it all again, this time from the hill of Calvary.  And all creation, from the beginning until the end, whispered with the Good Thief, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

How do you feel when you think about Jesus seeing you from the cross?

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 C

11 February 2013

When was the last time you read Charles Dickens?  My brother begged me to get reacquainted with him, and I’ve spent the last several months in reverent silence, listening to his stunning and shattering stories on audio tapes.

Hard Times is my latest find.  It was published in 1854, and reflects the soulless existence of the factory workers outside of London as the Industrial Revolution steals the health of the adults and the lives of the children.  Still in the throes of the 17th century Enlightenment, the owners of the factories and the intellectual elite of the town preach a strict adherence to FACT and REASON.  “The Good
Samaritan was a poor economist,” they say.  “Jesus should have calculated the mathematical probability of being crucified,” they nod wryly.

In other words, there is no mystery in life, nothing sacred to our existence, no ocean teeming with fish waiting for us to lower our nets on the other side.  Jesus would have flunked The Enlightenment.

Isaiah, writing 700 years before Christ, tells of entering the Temple and seeing the Lord on a throne, and angels placing hot coals on Isaiah’s lips that he may be worthy to speak of such things.  He would have flunked The Enlightenment too.

As Paul relates in today’s second reading from I Corinthians 15, (the earliest account ever written on the resurrection, preceding even Mark’s gospel), Jesus appeared to many hundreds of people after the resurrection.  Those eyewitnesses went out to the ends of the earth, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaching the Risen Lord.  They would all have flunked The Enlightenment.

Oh Lord, I want to be in that number.

In what ways do you see mystery at work in the world?

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 in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

4 February 2013

Reflecting on I Corinthians 12:31-13:13

When I drift off to sleep at night I try to recall all the radical love that came in my direction that day.  It washes over me like a delicious warm ocean wave, and like the ocean it rocks me gently to sleep.

There’s something about love.  We might not be able to define it, but we sure know it when we get it.  And bringing it to mind makes it “really present” all over again.

And then this thought occurs to me:  Since God is love, might it be that the only thing God CANNOT do is withhold love?  Maybe God is restricted in only one thing: God can’t stop loving us, madly, unconditionally, eternally.

At a rosary for a friend’s dad the other night the deacon read from the Rites, “God takes all of our good works with us to heaven.”  Those tiny good works that we’ve forgotten minutes after we offered them?  It turns out God has remembered every single one of them and has them stored up for us to take into eternity.

That image brings to mind the proud parent who has kept all our pictures, and trophies, and—yikes!—even our report cards, and somehow sees a beautiful, brilliant athlete/scholar there, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It’s a delicious circle.  God is LOVE, and because love never fails, God’s love keeps circling around us in an eternal loop of patience and kindness, never brooding over our sins or rejoicing over our wrongdoing.

Huh.  So THAT’S why God takes our good works to heaven with us.  Loving others creates the perfect joy that is the DNA of eternity.  Or, as Victor Hugo wrote so beautifully in Les Miserables, “To love another person is the see the face of God.”

In what ways have you experienced, by giving or receiving, the kind of love in I Corinthians 12:31-13:13?

This column was inspired by the recent deaths of four beloved Christians, each of whom loved so magnificently that it’s wonderful to imagine heaven bursting at the seams as they entered it, so much love did they bring with them.  Wayne Hendrix, Angela DiMartini, Jimmy McNamee, and Wayne Easley have each gone home to God in the past two weeks.  Watch for miracles.

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