Monthly Archives: January 2015

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

24 January 2015

Reflecting on Jonah 3: 1-5, 10

I thought of Jonah a lot as I read Laura Hillenbrand’s stunning book Unbroken, and again last week when I saw the movie. What terror Louie Zamperini experienced as he was shot out of the sky by the Japanese, then set adrift on the sea for 47 (!!) days, dying of thirst and beset by hungry sharks circling his bullet-riddled raft.

Jonah’s terror was quite different. History’s most reluctant (and irritating) prophet was running away from God when the sailors transporting him threw him overboard in order to avoid God’s wrath. Sure enough, the moment he was in the sea the terrible storm calmed. And Jonah was swallowed up by a great fish.

Louie and Jonah were bound by the same journey. Their outcomes, however, were very different.  While suffering on the raft, a choir of angels appeared to Louie, singing him a song of healing that sustained him for the rest of his life.

Jonah too was given grace. Trapped for three days and nights in the belly of the beast, he was consoled by God’s presence. But, alas, once vomited back onto dry land his bitter heart was unchanged.

Their enemies were legion. Louie suffered unbelievable tortures at the hands of a particularly sadistic Japanese captor during his two years as a POW. Jonah refused to forget the atrocities and brutality of the Assyrians who had decimated his land. And God wanted to forgive them? No way.

In 1998, a jubilant Louie, having forgiven his tormentors years earlier, carried the Olympic torch past his old prison camp, the smiling Japanese applauding him on. Jonah? He’s still pouting under that shriveled broom tree, waiting for God to hate as much as he does.

How has grace given you an unbroken ability to forgive?

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 in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

21 January 2015

Reflecting on I Sam. 3:3b-10, 19

How are you sleeping these days? Do you nod off and sleep easily through the night? Or do you, like the child Samuel, often awake with the sense that you are being called, and then can’t get back to sleep until you finally acknowledge that it is God who is nudging you?

Maybe your dreams are where God is revealing a path for you. If you have a recurring dream―maybe the one where you forgot to go to class all semester and now it’s time to take the final, or ones as urgent as the dreams that alerted me to a ten-centimeter ovarian mass in 2004―it’s possible that God is using your subconscious to guide and heal you.

Then of course there is simply the tossing and turning that goes with finding night-time peace with day-time conflicts. How much longer can you bite your tongue at work? Will the new generation of graduates get the job you’ve excelled at for years? For that matter, will any of the older generation step aside so that your own kids can find meaningful work?

And speaking of the kids, do you lose sleep worrying that they aren’t happy, aren’t healthy, and will probably not carry on the faith that has sustained you your entire life? That’s a lot of sleep to lose over worries that have kept parents awake forever, including, most probably, your own.

But here’s the secret. In all your midnight wrestlings, God is there. It might be that God is aiding you in resolving problems.  Or, just possibly, God is calling you. In that case, the only thing to do is to rouse yourself and say, “Speak, Lord. I’m listening.”

In what ways does God use your sleep to heal 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

The Baptism of the Lord – Cycle B

10 January 2015

Reflecting on Mark 1: 7-11

I imagine that some things take us close to the bliss of heaven. A good book and a blazing fire on a cold night have got to be a glimpse of heaven. Plunging yourself into the Jordan River for the repentance of sins you will never commit is another encounter with the Divine.

Huh? Well, isn’t that just how it happened? Jesus, the Sinless One, allowed himself to be baptized by John, for repentance of sin. In so humbling himself and taking on our human form completely, Jesus came out of the water and straight into the Beatific Vision.  He saw the heavens open and the Spirit descend upon him. And he heard the Father’s voice claiming him as the Beloved Son. A glimpse of heaven, indeed.

Sometimes, when the sun is shining and I’m out on the porch with a book, I’m pretty sure that heaven and earth have touched. But my husband, who visited India recently, reports that he saw heaven and earth meet when a dying woman in the street reached out to take the bread he offered her. She looked him in the eye and found his heart, longing to be met.

He has never witnessed the misery of others so keenly. He has never experienced the nearness of God so profoundly. In that moment, the heavens opened, the Spirit descended, and he heard a voice say, “This is my beloved daughter. Hold her gaze.”

Every day we have the chance to split the veil that seems to divide heaven and earth. Often it’s our communion with another that brings the Spirit hovering, and God’s voice in our hearts naming us as beloved.

When have you experienced the meeting of heaven and earth?

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 B

5 January 2015

Reflecting on Matthew 2: 1-12

And so we come back to the beautiful story of those wise men from the East.  And our questions arise as surely as the Star.

How is it that they observed the Star at its rising?  Why did they, Gentiles who knew nothing of the promised Messiah, leave everything to seek a newborn King of Judea? And, the harder question: if the Star hovered over the house where the Holy Family stayed in Bethlehem, with none of the Jews in the City of David noticing it, how did the Gentiles see it clearly from afar and find the Messiah through its Light?

St. Matthew (the only one of the four Gospel writers who knows this Epiphany story) is telling his Jewish/Christian community something beautiful: those who seek Jesus will surely find Him, whether born into the right bloodlines or not.

And there’s something else here too: are we ready to follow the Stars that arise in our lives, to be utterly open to the Surprising Love of the One who meets us in our comings and goings, our dreaming and our rising, our instinctive drawing near to him who drew so near to us?

In this new year let’s resolve again to keep our eyes wide open for the Christ who comes to us in a thousand different ways, bidden and unbidden,  searching for us even more earnestly than we are searching for him.

In what ways do you sense that God is seeking 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