Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Feast of the Holy Family – Cycle B

28 December 2014

Reflecting on Colossians 3: 12-21

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”. You’ll feel your heart break open as you feel “’with passion” the daily struggle of a family member 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 the kindness of a sister who sends the funniest birthday card, or the patience of the parent who never stops believing in you, and trusting that you will pull your life together.

Here’s a priceless gift: “Humility”. It will present itself in the form of your sweet spouse taking out the trash every single day, without ever saying a word. Or maybe it will be your adult child, calling to say, “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 will come from beloved ones who aren’t your biological family, but with whom you have created bonds of love just as strong. It’s a holy family, this Body of Christ. Happy Feast Day.

How are you working to strengthen your family bonds?

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 A

22 December 2014

Reflecting on Luke 1: 26-38

My mother and father didn’t see him. I was working at the grinding stone, grinding wheat to make the bread for the noonday meal.

I think I felt him before I saw him. The air around me seemed to change, as if a sudden rainstorm was brewing. I looked up and saw a flash of light, and then a luminous figure stood before me. I was too shocked to speak, too mesmerized to move.

Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you. My breath stopped. I couldn’t turn my eyes away. I suddenly knew what my heart has known my whole life. God has given me a grace unlike any other graces. For this moment I was born. My spirit leapt and began rejoicing.

Speak, I wordlessly told the angel. Speak, and tell my soul what it has known from the moment I was conceived in my mother Anna’s womb.

He spoke. I joyfully uttered my yes. And the Spirit of the Most High overshadowed me with so much grace and peace that a new life was created in my virgin womb. Blessed be God forever.

I set out in haste to visit my cousin Elizabeth, for God who is mighty has done great things for her also. And her child somehow already knew what God has done! When I greeted Elizabeth her baby leapt in her womb! This cousin isn’t even born yet, and he is already announcing my son.

Here’s something important for you to know. From the second my baby was conceived I began to feel a mother’s love for every person who has ever lived. And especially for you. Now, and at the hour of your death. AMEN.

Have you ever been touched by an angel?

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 A

13 December 2014

Reflecting on I Thessalonians 5:16-24

Test everything. Retain what is good.

Paul’s advice to the church at Thessalonica sounds so easy, but how do you really know how to test the counsel that you receive, and keep what is good?  How, for that matter, does an intelligent person read the paper, watch the news, or vote in an election? Is it possible to see through the spin and discern who, if anyone, is telling the truth?

St. Paul is guiding the infant church in Thessalonica, the second largest city in Greece, in the ways to live their lives now that they have put on Christ. Since Paul’s letters precede any of the gospels―and since this is, in fact, his earliest letter, written less than twenty years after the resurrection― their questions take on even more urgency.  How DO they live their new lives in Christ? How DO they become mature and faithful disciples of Jesus?

There are no gospels, no Catechism of the Catholic Church, not even any other Pauline letters circulating around to give guidance to this early Christian community.  They are dependent upon what they learned from Paul himself when he visited two years earlier and founded the church there. They are a newborn creation, but how, then, should they live?

Huh. Somehow, modern Christians can’t figure that out either. We feel guilty no matter which way we vote. We feel certain that God is calling us to this job, this house, this friendship, and then things change and we’re not so sure.

St. Paul’s words give us guidance. Do not quench the Spirit. Refrain from every kind of evil. And surely John the Baptist would add, Prepare the way of the Lord.

How is Advent going for you so far?

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 A

7 December 2014

Reflecting on Mark 1: 1-8

The funniest bumper sticker I’ve ever seen has a kind of Advent tint to it: Jesus is coming back. Look busy.

I still chuckle. What makes it funny, I think, is that it betrays our hapless misunderstanding of the Divine. If Jesus is coming back―and, by the way, he never left, thanks to his abiding Holy Spirit―then it must be like the teacher coming back into the room, or the boss returning from a trip.

Look busy, everybody! Because everything we’ve been doing while the boss was gone must be worthless. Working on projects, answering e-mails on our own schedule, or even taking a delicious sick day must all be a waste of the company’s money. The boss wants us to work, work, work, and if we work enough we’ll get promoted so we can work even harder.

Yuck. What an odd and unhappy Jesus we must be expecting.  We see in the gospel that people of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were making the trek out to the desert to hear John and be baptized by him. And I’ll bet they were all willing to use their sick days to get there.

Why? Because they sensed that John was the witness of the One to come, and they wanted to be as close as they could get.

I suspect that, if Jesus has questions of us at his return, they will be something like this: Did you notice the astounding beauty of the world? Did you love as well as you could? Did you dig deep and find the grace to forgive?

And, finally, I imagine him asking that great question  that Aslan, The Christ figure in the last book of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, asks each of us:

I have known you long. Do you know me?

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 A

2 December 2014

Do you love Advent? I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t. And these days, after reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s exquisite book Learning to Walk in the Dark, I think I know why. After the long days of summer and the fading lights of fall, we’re finally ready to give in to the dark. Advent gives us permission to stay in the dark for four delicious weeks.

Something there is that doesn’t love the dark, but there is another part of us that craves it. Even the most roaring extrovert is grateful to crawl under the covers and let the night come in, with its healing dreams and restorative quiet.

And it is in the dark, of course, where we keep watch the best. The stars guide sailors to safe ports, and the changing shapes of the moon give expression to our own spiritual shifts, from consolation to desolation and back again.

This Advent I’m trying something new, and my soul is ready for it. I’m going to spend more time in the dark. I’m going to watch the darkness give way to the dimmest violet―an Advent color, by the way―in the early hours of the morning. I’m going to sit in the pitch dark―or at least as dark as our over-lit urban landscape allows―and listen for coyotes and night song.

It was, after all, in the night watch when the angels appeared in the sky, announcing the birth of the Savior and singing their Glorias to highest heaven. Just think: if the shepherds hadn’t been spending the night in a pitch-black field they would have missed the greatest moment in the history of the world.

It’s getting dark. It’s time to go outside.

What sacred memories do you have of meeting God in the dark?

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