Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Nativity of the Lord – Cycle B

24 December 2017

Reflecting on Luke 1 and 2

There are so many things I long for each of you this Christmas. Here are a few:

I want you to be visited by an angel. I want you to know that you have found favor with God. I want you to feel so strengthened and empowered by God’s nearness that you could walk the same ninety miles that Mary walked, just to tell someone you love that God has broken through.

I want you, like the shepherds keeping watch that night, to have moments of wonder. I hope that you are astonished by God’s power to heal, to console, to bring life from death, and yes, to set hosts of angels in the sky who have probably been standing watch there from the beginning of time, waiting for you to notice their song.

I want you, like Mary, to hold closely in your heart every moment when God did something astonishing and bewildering and soul-soaring. And especially when those moments come to you through encounters with people who don’t look or live like you, remember how smelly and rough those shepherds must have seemed to the Holy Family. I want you, like St. Joseph, to love the people you love so faithfully and fiercely that they know one thing for sure, that you are their safe place to land even when everything and everyone is against them.

I want you, like the Child Jesus, to be brave if you are placed in unfamiliar and frightening situations this year. In the beginning was the Light. It shines in the darkness. And that darkness shall never overcome you.

How will you, like Mary, let God astonish you?

 

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

23 December 2017

Reflecting on Luke 1 and 2

There are so many things I long for each of you this Christmas. Here are a few:

I want you to be visited by an angel. I want you to know that you have found favor with God. I want you to feel so strengthened and empowered by God’s nearness that you could walk the same ninety miles that Mary walked, just to tell someone you love that God has broken through.

I want you, like the shepherds keeping watch that night, to have moments of wonder. I hope that you are astonished by God’s power to heal, to console, to bring life from death, and yes, to set hosts of angels in the sky who have probably been standing watch there from the beginning of time, waiting for you to notice their song.

I want you, like Mary, to hold closely in your heart every moment when God did something astonishing and bewildering and soul-soaring. And especially when those moments come to you through encounters with people who don’t look or live like you, remember how smelly and rough those shepherds must have seemed to the Holy Family. I want you, like St. Joseph, to love the people you love so faithfully and fiercely that they know one thing for sure, that you are their safe place to land even when everything and everyone is against them.

I want you, like the Child Jesus, to be brave if you are placed in unfamiliar and frightening situations this year. In the beginning was the Light. It shines in the darkness. And that darkness shall never overcome you.

How will you, like Mary, let God astonish you?

 

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

16 December 2017

Reflecting on Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11

I get the best ideas from my friends. Last year my wonderful friend Julie shared with me how nice Thanksgiving was at their house because she laid out bags, water bottles, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and McDonald’s gift certificates on the dessert table. After everyone had enjoyed the pumpkin pie, they carefully filled their bags with goodies to hand out to the people standing on the street corners.

What a great idea. I tried it with my family and they loved it, so we did it again this year and will do it for Christmas too. That little holiday discipline reminds me of Isaiah’s “anointed one” who is sent to do all the hard things: heal the brokenhearted, release prisoners, and bring glad tidings to those who are poor.

It’s the little things, really, that advance the kingdom. The person who knows no brokenhearted people is the person who is living a deeply isolated life. I’ll bet each person reading this could name at least a dozen people struggling with a broken heart right this minute. And guess what? We’re the ones God has anointed to heal them.

There are a number of ministries in the Church that address the spiritual needs of those in prison, and those ministries depend on us―God’s anointed ones―to do the corporal work of mercy of visiting those in prison.

I have friends who easily engage those who stand on the sidewalk carrying a sign. They offer a warm smile, and always ask the person’s name. They never give money, but they thoughtfully keep a small bag of helpful items for them. For some, a toothbrush can bring glad tidings better than a ten-dollar bill.

What special work do you feel “anointed” to carry out?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

12 December 2017

Reflecting on Mark 1: 1-8

When I hear about John the Baptizer dunking Israelites in the Jordan I remember a tender moment with my friend Charles Onofrio, the great lion of God who went home to heaven last year. No one loved Jesus and the Church more than Chuck, and no one was more receptive to and educated about the reforms of Vatican II than this eloquent Catholic lawyer.

But the first time Chuck observed the catechumens preparing for baptism being led from the church after the homily he was outraged. “Well, I’m not standing for this. If they can’t stay for Communion then neither can I.  I’m a greater sinner than any of them. How dare I stay when they are being asked to leave?”

It took a few words of kind explanation from the great Bishop George Evans to help Chuck understand that this was the new rite of initiation for converts to the faith. Their dismissal is not―good heavens! ― because they are sinners and we aren’t. They are dismissed in front of us so they can go for catechesis together, and so we can pray for them every step of the way.

Chuck became the lead catechist in the parish, and must have prayed hundreds of new Catholics to the baptismal font over the next thirty-five years. But I think he secretly liked the style of that wild, locust-eating Baptist, who dragged his own people―not those converting to Judaism, but lifelong, faithful Jews― out into the desert and got them to admit that THEY were sinners and that THEY needed a baptism of repentance.

Advent is such a quiet, reflective season. Listen carefully. A voice is crying out in the wilderness.

What is the voice of John the Baptist saying to you?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

First Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

12 December 2017

We Catholics are just weird. Here we are, twelve weeks into the school year, five months into the fiscal year, and eleven months into the calendar year, and yet, for us, the new year starts today. The First Sunday of Advent is where it all begins again. New hymnals. New colors (violets and pinks). New evangelist (St. Mark). New songs, in the minor keys of Advent longing. We live in chronological dissonance. And we love it.

From the earliest years of the Church, Christians marked time differently. Sunday―the day of the resurrection― became the primary day of worship, even though it was a work day in the Roman world. The early Christians felt that Christ should change the way they lived.

One of the bitterest indictments of our Catholic school system came from a friend of mine years ago. Observing that the kids in the high school graduating class all aspired to be movie stars and sports heroes, he said, “And aren’t we proud? Nobody will ever guess that our kids spent twelve years immersed in the gospel of Jesus.”

If we don’t hold to a consistent ethic of life, if we don’t have a special interest in serving those who are poor, if our agenda isn’t radically different from the agendas of either political party, then we are pretending that the Lord of time didn’t break into human history and make all things new, with Himself as the Alpha and Omega.

Yes, we weird Catholics start our year with Advent. We hold to a different time frame. It’s a “faith frame,” and everything in our lives should be set to that clock.

How are you living a counter-cultural life in Christ?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015