Monthly Archives: February 2015

Second Sunday in Lent – Cycle B

28 February 2015

Reflecting on Mark 9: 2-10

In that moment of blinding light, they saw Jesus as he truly was. Transfigured. Dazzling. And chatting with Elijah and Moses themselves. The apostles didn’t want to leave the mountain. They didn’t want to set their faces to Jerusalem, and the cross whose vertical beam was already pounded in and waiting on Calvary.

They had been with him, of course, when he cured the demoniacs, and the leper. He had come to them on the water during that terrifying midnight storm. He had even fed five thousand with a few loaves and fish. They were enveloped in the mystery and wonder of it all.

But now they saw him as he truly was, full of light, and full of grace. They had a glimpse into the kingdom.

Do you ever sense the kingdom when you observe people?  I love to watch them as they come forward in the Communion procession. As Thomas Merton observed, they have no idea that they are shining like the sun. There is something about the point of vulnerability in people that, like the crack in a vase, lets the light in.

Here comes the awkward teenage boy, pulling up his pants and pushing back his hair. Behind him is his poised and beautiful sister, presenting the face of confidence and composure that she practiced so hard in front of the mirror before Mass. They have no idea how brightly they glow.

Here is the parish leader, the one who organizes and motivates and serves. And there is the newcomer, unsure, too often unwelcomed, hungry and hope-filled. How brilliant is their light.

And of course the light doesn’t diminish outside the church walls. There is the clerk at the grocery store, bravely fighting her arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome. There is your kind, agnostic neighbor, shoveling the walk of the elderly man down the street.

And you can’t see it, but the radiation coming out of you is almost blinding.

This week, be blessed by observing the light that comes from the people in your life.

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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 in Lent – Cycle B

23 February 2015

Reflecting on I Peter 3: 18-22

It only comes up in the Sunday readings once every three years, but it’s so intriguing that it catches our ear every time: in the Spirit he went to preach to the spirits in prison (I Peter 3:19).

If that sounds familiar, it’s because we pray it every time we say the Apostle’s Creed: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell.

You read that right. The Church took this portion of Peter’s letter so seriously that it found its way into the creed. Christ actually visited all the just who had lived before the time of Christ and released the spirits in prison.

In fact, a beautiful, ancient hymn sung on Holy Saturday recounts that Christ visited Adam and Eve:

He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds, and Eve, captive with him.  He says, “I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”

How does time and space work with God?  Had all who died before Christ’s resurrection 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) will not stop searching for us.

Is it hard to imagine that hell might be empty?

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

15 February 2015

Reflecting on Mark 1: 40-45

In her fascinating new book on the American saints (When the Saints Came Marching In: Exploring the Frontiers of Grace in America; Liturgical Press 2015) author Kathy Coffey lingers lovingly on St. Marianne Cope, the Franciscan nun who, with six others sisters from her community in Syracuse, N.Y., warmly accepted the same invitation from the Hawaiian government which fifty other religious communities had turned down.

I am not afraid of any disease, she wrote in 1883. Hence it would be my greatest delight to minister even to the abandoned lepers of Molokai.

And so she did. She and her sisters cared for the dying St. Damien, assuring him that his work with those who had contracted the dread disease would continue after his death. She finally achieved real safety for the women and girls on the island by establishing schools and hospitals just for them. She brought games, and laughter, and fun.

The most compelling thing about her for me is how beautiful she was, and how celebrated she is in Hawaii. A visitor to Molokai is immediately greeted by a large, framed photograph of this smiling, radiant Franciscan sister.  Throughout the Hawaiian Islands (where her sisters still minister) her lovely face, shrouded in the white coif and wimple of the 19th century habit, is celebrated on key chains, tins of macadamian nuts, and even beer mugs. She and her sisters are beloved, and the Hawaiians want the world to know about them.

Jesus warned the man he cured of leprosy to tell no one.  Instead, he broadcast it far and wide. When the love of Christ overshadows you, even the remotest parts of the Hawaiian Islands shout for joy.

What ways have you found to reach out to modern-day lepers?

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

7 February 2015

Reflecting on Jb 7:1-4,6-7, Mk. 1: 29-39

For some reason I am always surprised by it, every single time. After another sleepless night, I finally go into the room to read. In three hours it will be dawn, and I’ll be exhausted all day.

Except that it almost never happens that way. Somehow my book is closed, the light is off, and blessed sleep overtakes me. I awake hours later, rested.  I happen to turn my head and look out the window. And there it is. Beautiful, faithful, stunning morning.

I’m shocked by it, somehow. In my midnight tossings it seemed that it would always be night, and that I would still be wide awake, restless and miserable, at first light.

But, instead, the slow strength of morning works its wonder. I actually laugh out loud. Look what God did, again! While I was sleeping, the dawn slipped in. The morning star winked goodnight. The sun took out her paints and began to brush the tops of the trees. Bright, blessed day arrived, without my doing one single thing to help it along.

Poor Job. While in the depths of his misery, sleep never came, and dawn only brought another agonizing day. He was trapped, we could say, in the eternal chill of Narnia before it was redeemed by Aslan (Christ), where it is “always winter, but never Christmas.”

A thousand years later, Christmas―that is to say, Jesus, the Incarnate One―entered Simon’s mother-in-law’s house in Capernaum. He grasped her feverish hand and she arose, healed. Her nighttime struggle was over.  Christ, the Morning Star, shed his peaceful light on her.

Tomorrow morning, notice what Christ did while you were sleeping. And then, healed, arise and wait on him.

In what ways does God heal you in your sleep?

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 B

2 February 2015

Reflecting on I Corinthians 7: 32-35

We’re going to four weddings this year! That’s four more than we have attended in the past several years. We’re thrilled that the children of our dear friends have found the person with whom they long to commit their lives. Each engagement represents a radical departure from the cultural imperative ― especially for young men― to run from commitment, to date every single person on Match until they’re sure they’ve secured the best deal, and to delay commitment until every possible whim has been satisfied.

How boring. There is no greater adventure than a great marriage, and if you are blessed to find that great love, get married already. You can do all the things the tv commercials say you have to do― skydiving, trekking in Nepal, extreme kayaking in British Columbia― together, and if you survive you’ll have the rest of your lives to brag about it.

For all his talk about the virtues of the single life for the advance of the gospel, I wonder what St. Paul would say to the marriage-averse younger generations today. Since the unmarried 20-year-old Jewish male in Paul’s day was considered “cursed,” Paul was being extremely counter-cultural in suggesting that men and women not marry so as to “adhere to the Lord without distraction”.

It’s possible that when St. Paul wrote that first letter to the church at Corinth (today’s second reading) he was still expecting the imminent return of Jesus. In anticipation of that world-altering moment, he advised that those who were single remain single.

Ironically, that’s exactly the same advice the culture gives today two thousand years later. Hmm. How’s that workin’ for us?

How do you view marriage and its call to holiness?

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