Monthly Archives: November 2016

First Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

29 November 2016

Reflecting on Matthew 24: 37-44

We were robbed last month, sometime around midnight. Our friend Karen, who lives in our basement and brings huge gulps of laughter and fun into our house, heard someone coughing in our driveway. Her first thought was that she should go outside and investigate. Her second thought―thank God―was that her bed was cozy and warm and that she should go back to sleep.

My husband Ben also heard coughing right outside our upstairs window at the same time. He got up and looked out the window. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, he considered getting up and going outside, but, again, cozy and warm outbid chilly and cold.

We all compared notes in the morning, when we saw the ransacked garage and the broken-into cars. The intruders were brazen enough to walk right through our back yard rather than use the closer entrance through the alley, certainly because our neighbors, having been robbed exactly the same way last year, have a bright motion detector that lights up whenever the smallest squirrel ventures into their magnetic field.

We got right on it, of course. We changed the code on the garage door and once again promised to remember to lock the garage door at night. Next time, we’ll be ready.

Which brings us, of course, to Advent, and St. Paul’s urgent warning that now is the hour to awake from sleep. Loud coughing right outside our window at midnight wasn’t alarming enough to rouse us. Sleep is so much more comforting than facing that which is urgently trying to wake us. But it’s Advent, and it’s time to wake up. Jesus, our Morning Star, is trying to rouse us.

What is Christ calling you to “wake up” to this Advent?

Kathy McGovern ©2016


Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Cycle C

21 November 2016

Reflecting on Luke 23: 35-43

I suppose it was inevitable. My husband Ben, who fears neither height nor depth nor OSHA regulations, fell fifteen feet from a ladder while painting a house in a low economic neighborhood two weeks ago. Despite the intense pain of recovering from his broken hip, hand, and scapula, we are both speechless with gratitude that there was no paralysis or brain damage. In fact, it could have been fatal because, as Butch said to Sundance, The fall will probably kill you.

At the same time that he was being ambulanced to the hospital, the fire crews were putting out a fire up the street. A single mom and her three kids were paying $1500 a month to live in a one-room apartment, now going up in flames. Jesus, remember them.

Watching the election results in the hospital on Tuesday night, we watched the weeping, the cheering, the convulsions of rage and glee. Jesus, remember us.

While Ben was wincing in pain a week later at home, we watched the Wounded Warriors on Veteran’s Day, facing lives as double amputees, many living with intense pain, minute by minute. Jesus, remember them.

Running parallel to that story were a dozen stories of drought, wildfires, mass murders and terrorist attacks. Jesus, remember them.

There are endless people for Jesus to remember, every hour of every day.  What comfort to know that Christ our King knows what it is to be in agony, to be tortured and killed by people who knew not what they were doing.

But we know what we are doing, and on this feast day we resolve to use our lives to bring healing and compassionate love, in memory of Jesus.

What good work will you do this week, in memory of Jesus?

Kathy McGovern ©2016

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

14 November 2016

Reflecting on Malachi 3: 19-20a

We’ve only had two mornings of real chill, and already I miss the sun. I want to sit on the beach and feel its heavenly rays. I want to sit out on the porch and read by its warm light. I want an eternal summer.

But oh, how this planet needs winter.  Floods and fires and drought are all the hallmarks of accelerated temperatures. I could live in capris and t-shirts all year, but I’d gladly trade them for parkas and gloves if it meant a restoration of the polar ice caps and a cessation of drought around the world.

It’s almost eerie that Malachi, prophesying the end times, says the days are coming like a blazing oven, when evildoers will be set on fire. We had a few days―make that weeks―last summer when it seemed that prophecy was already being fulfilled.

We’re hearing from Malachi today, and from the apocalyptic section of Luke’s gospel, because the liturgical year is groaning to a close. It does not go out quietly, gradually yielding to a docile and gentle Advent.  The end-of-the-church-year readings are cacophonous, and scary. They foretell terrible changes in climate, the agonies of war, and earthquakes and famines that sound like what’s trending right now on CNN.

But here’s what CNN will not say: there is a loving God who is with us, in blast furnaces and Arctic tundras. The long view of history must surely bear this out. In spite of our willful ignorance and blinding selfishness―and an excruciating election season― life is still being sustained every second by a Creator who is good.

So be at peace.  Reuse, recycle, and reduce. And, oh yes, trust God.

How are you standing up to your fears by holding fast to faith?

Kathy McGovern ©2016

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

5 November 2016

Reflecting on Luke 20: 27-38

There is something in us that remembers eternity. My favorite Old Testament passage captures it beautifully: God has made everything appropriate for its time, and yet has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We long for those glimpses of heaven that come to us―a tender wink from a beloved who has gone to God, or maybe a near-death story that has the ring of truth to it. But whether we experience those particular graces or not, the nearness of the eternal is right there, in our memory and our soul. We are made for heaven.

But we are also made for the earth, because that is where we forge the materials we will take into eternity. In C.S. Lewis’s beautiful parable, The Great Divorce, we see the excruciating conundrum. Heaven is right there, just steps away from the bus that carries those caught in the limbo of indecision. All one has to do is get off the bus. The problem is, heaven is so solid, so real. The grass is like knives for those who try to take selfishness and grubbiness and gossip and meanness into heaven. They’ll need to lay those wimpy things down if they want to walk in the strength of the Divine Presence.

That’s another piece of eternity that we already experience in this life: the “muscle memory” that comes when we grow into who we are meant to be. When we knock temptation to the ground, when we stand up for justice, when we grow the muscles of compassion and honesty, we can feel ourselves getting fit for the sturdiness of heaven.  The saints all got to the gym and got buff enough for eternity. Just do it.

Kathy McGovern ©2016

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

1 November 2016

Reflecting on Luke 19: 1-10

We can argue about Zaccheus all day. The Jews loathed him, since he made his living collecting the taxes the overlord Romans demanded. But some defended him, saying that if the Jews didn’t pay their taxes then the violent Romans would extract them themselves. Zaccheus was simply keeping the Jews alive and safe by keeping them in line with the demands made on them. That’s another way to look at him.

And then there’s this: Jesus’s companions on his long journey from Galilee down to Jerusalem were faithful and devoted people who, we can assume, would LOVE to have been called by Jesus and told he was having dinner with them that night. So who does he honor with that immeasurable grace? The vertically challenged, incredibly odious tax collector who climbs a tree on a whim and gets a better view than everyone else there. That’s not fair.

But here’s what Zaccheus will always have in his favor: he was seeking to see who Jesus was. Think about the people you know who have the Jesus Thing all figured out. He holds no mystery for them. They have deconstructed the miracles, googled “the culture” about him, and, perhaps sadly, put him away with all their other childhood dreams.

You know what? Zaccheus lived in the same kind of world. Prophets and would-be Messiahs were a dime a dozen. His Roman employers were cynical business men who would certainly have snickered at Jesus and his pitiful entourage. Nevertheless, he risked it all and climbed a tree, because, no matter how ridiculous he looks, he wanted to see Jesus.

That puts him way ahead of the game in our world today.

How can you inspire someone you love to want to see Jesus?

Kathy McGovern ©2016