Monthly Archives: March 2015

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – Ciclo B

28 March 2015

Reflecting on Philippians 2: 6-11

You probably didn’t realize it, but in the Philippians reading this weekend we heard perhaps the oldest hymn in Christendom. Certainly the earliest Christians sang the psalms every day, and probably even a musical version of the crossing of the sea on holy days in the Temple. But Paul’s recitation of the hymn of kenosis―the self-emptying―of Christ on the cross suggests he knew that this beloved hymn was being sung by the Church at Philippi, which was the earliest Christian community in Europe.

Perhaps it was the On Eagle’s Wings of the first century―a well-known hymn that everyone could probably sing by heart with a little help. But why did Paul choose to include it in his letter? I wonder if its beautiful prelude is a key: though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at.

Paul, that super-educated Jew, that Pharisee who studied with the greatest rabbi of his day, that tri-lingual missionary par excellence, eventually admits in this letter that all of that perfect pedigree is just “worthless refuse”.  The only thing that matters is that he gain Christ, and be found in him.

Let this mind be also in you, he writes. Don’t compete with each other. Don’t think that whatever status you hold in the world means anything in the kingdom of God. Christ, who was God, chose to take the form of a slave. So it must be with you.

Our western culture is crazy for fancy letters behind our names. Somehow that means we have accomplished something. But at our deaths we only need three letters: F.I.H.

Found in him.

In what ways are you making sure you are found in him?

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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

Fifth Sunday in Lent – Cycle B

21 March 2015

Reflecting on John 12: 20-33

Where do you live? Come and see. With that invitation, Jesus draws the first disciples to himself. They have heard of him, but that’s not enough. They want to know him.

It’s interesting that in the earliest three gospels—called the Synoptics because they tell the story with the same eye―Jesus calls the disciples away from their fishing boats and into public life with him. But in John’s gospel the first disciples seek him first. They approach him, and he invites them to come and see.

What a great Lenten message for us. The spiritual life is sometimes illuminated with “God encounters”―moments when we feel the Holy Spirit alive in us, and we joyfully respond. This was the experience of Peter, James and John when Jesus found them and called them.

But most of our spiritual lives―which is to say, our real lives―is spent actively seeking Christ, positioning ourselves so that we may encounter him where he lives.

So that’s our great, soul-stirring quest. Do you have a place of encounter with him, where you find the Holy Spirit every time you go there? Some friends find Christ every time they serve a meal to those who are homeless. Others seek him where he lives by living and working in the most challenging places in the developing world.

For me, any school where children are safe and happy is where Christ seems to dwell in delightful abundance. But I know that I must come and see him in the schools where children are hungry, and not safe.  As Mother Teresa said, “There is Christ in his most distressing disguise.”

Where do you go to find Christ where he lives?

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 Lent – Cycle B

16 March 2015

Reflecting on John 3: 14-21

Many years ago, Father Raymond Brown, the world’s authority on the Gospel of John, gave a seminar in Denver. The hotel room was packed with adoring students―clergy, members of religious communities, theologians and scripture students all gave rapt attention to every fascinating insight he gave us into this most soaring and symbolic gospel.

At noon we all happily went into the ballroom for lunch, and he, a health nut, went out to swim a few laps in the hotel pool. Later in the afternoon, as he was teaching the section we heard in today’s Gospel, he told us this story:

You know, while you all were sitting and eating at noon today, I was swimming laps in the pool. I took off my crucifix and put it on the chair, and when I was done swimming I was putting it back on when a young man approached me. He said, “I see you wear a cross. Are you sure you know Jesus as your personal savior?” I said, “Thank you for asking me. I try every day to know him more and more.”

The audience went up in a roar! Can you imagine the nerve, the naiveté, the ignorance of that young man, approaching the great scholar and asking him if he knows Jesus! But Raymond Brown was confused by our response. “Why is that so strange? Just because a person studies scripture doesn’t mean that they necessarily know Jesus. I was grateful that he cared enough to ask.”

The next time you see someone holding up John 3:16 at a football game, don’t judge. They are willing to risk looking foolish on the chance that they might help us know Jesus better.

Have you ever risked looking foolish so that someone might know Jesus?

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 in Lent – Cycle B

10 March 2015

Reflecting on John 2: 13-25

Follow the money. That’s usually the quickest way to get to the bottom of any great sin. Scratch the surface of nearly every war, every oppressive political system, and every “custom” in a culture that puts some on the inside and the rest on the outside, and you guessed it.  No matter the official rationale, the real reason is always money.

But is money the root of the evil Jesus tries to expel when he acts out so shockingly in the Temple?  Maybe. Some commentaries say that the high priest received a percentage of the profits from the sale of the cattle used in the sacrificial offerings for the Passover celebrations. Jesus’ disruption of that lucrative commerce may well have been the reason why those authorities eventually set out to kill him.

Other commentaries note that this buying and selling was taking place in the outermost section of the Temple where the Gentiles were allowed to pray. Imagine the stench, the cacophony, the squealing of the tens of thousands of animals bought and sold in that space just before Passover. And this is the space assigned to the non-Jews who came to the Temple to pray.

Ugh. Might it be this very rudeness, this lack of openness to people of all backgrounds, which Jesus finds so repulsive?

My favorite explanation is this: Jesus is making a statement about the terrible slaughter of innocent animals in order to appease God’s wrath.  I don’t want your sacrifices, said God through the prophet Hosea. I want you to love me (6:6).

I want you to love me, says Jesus to us. That has always been the sole reason for Lent.

How is your Lenten fast drawing you closer in love with Jesus?

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