Monthly Archives: February 2018

Second Sunday of Lent – Cycle B

24 February 2018

Reflecting on Genesis  22:1-2,9ª, 10-13, 15-18

Okay, let’s take that Genesis reading and stare it down. It’s awful. And it’s not about what we thought at all. Whew.

Let’s get this out of the way immediately. If any person attempted to “sacrifice” their son because God demanded it, we would quickly remove the child and get the parent psychiatric help. This is precisely what God is doing in the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. The entire story is meant for the ears of the neighbors, those terrifying Canaanites who killed their firstborn sons in huge numbers in order to prove to the gods of rain and harvest that they were seriously devoted to them.

See how the Canaanites behave? It shall never be this way with you, says the God of Abraham.  It’s God’s way of removing the children from the scary parents.

When Abraham allowed Sarah to cast Hagar out into the wilderness (along with his firstborn son Ishmael, a thirteen-year-old) he did so because God assured him they would survive. Years later it was Isaac’s turn to be endangered, as he himself had become thirteen (the threshold of adulthood). The same God who proved trustworthy earlier was demanding Abraham sacrifice his second son as a sign of devotion to him. Would the God who was faithful then be faithful now?

This isn’t about a sociopathic god requiring the blood of children. It’s about life’s most important question: can God be trusted in our lives and in our deaths?

We’ve all stood at the grave. Like Ishmael and Isaac, we’ve stood at the threshold of death. Can God be trusted to bring life from death? That’s the big question in this Lent’s gospels. Take heart, and wait.

Can God be trusted with your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

First Sunday of Lent – Cycle B

17 February 2018

Reflecting on Mark 1: 12-15

So, we had a baptism during Mass last Sunday. Baby boy twins Thomas and Owen shared the historic baptismal gown that has been used in their dad’s family since it was hand-sewn in 1882. Think about that. The Civil War was less than twenty years in the past. The owning of human beings had only been legally eradicated since 1865.

The tragic “re-settlement” of the native peoples in the west would not be complete until 1892. Two world wars would bracket a Great Depression. Periods of great prosperity followed the second war and have continued, for many, into our own time.

Cultural convulsions erupted and changed the world, creating entirely different boundaries, economic systems, new enemies, and leading to many wars around the world, which also continue in our time.

The world of 1882 is nearly unrecognizable to us today. Well, that’s not quite true. We’d recognize a baptismal gown anywhere. Thomas and Owen are the 108th and 109th babies in their family to be baptized in that gown, made so lovingly 134 years ago.

Go back and find those old scrapbooks in the attic. I’ll bet you’ll find glimmers of the long-ago faith of your forebears, passed on to you, one baptism at a time. And today we hear readings for the First Sunday of Lent which have been treasured and proclaimed by the Church since the fourth century.

Think about THAT. Think about all the changes in ritual just in our lifetimes. Reflect on the millions of believers who have come to Mass on this day and heard Jesus debate the Great Liar. In every age, the message has not changed.

Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Wouldn’t this Lent be a great time to finally frame your baptismal certificate?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

16 February 2018

Reflecting on Mark 1: 40-45

I’ve had so many graced times in my life, but some of the most meaningful surround the hundreds of couples with whom I’ve worked to plan beautiful music for their weddings. The brides were all beautiful, it seems, but today’s gospel brings one straight back into my heart.

She was a blonde, blue-eyed southern beauty.  She worked out rigorously so as to wear that stunning size-two wedding dress. All of her friends sharing this day with her were equally gorgeous, equally starved, equally perfectly manicured and massaged and coiffed.

And on her wedding day this ebullient, lovely bride―in love with her groom and in love with Jesus― arrived with an oozing, raging fever blister on her upper lip. No make-up could hide it. No one could pretend it wasn’t there. Except, of course, this darling bride. She greeted each guest with the warmth and confidence of someone who knows she is loved totally, inside and out. She introduced her handsome groom around the room. He was as smitten and adoring as on any of their perfect, made-for-tv dates.

I’ll never forget her. She taught me, through her vulnerability, that our “leprosies” can challenge the perfection we think we’re presenting to the world. She seemed to understand this deep truth: we are loved― wildly, madly― anyway. The Bridegroom knows our deeper, hidden scars. The Healer wants to touch the raging cold sores in our souls. He wants to heal our resentments, our heartbreaks, our addictions.

Some leprosies erupt today and are gone tomorrow. But the real lesions are the ones we carry inside. So here’s the question: do we want to be healed? Oh yes, God, yes.  Would today be too soon?

Can you remember a time when a superficial disfigurement brought you to a deeper love of Christ?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

3 February 2018

I wish you could see the banquet of brilliance I chow through every week as I ponder the Sunday readings. I go first to Words of Grace and read the fascinating insights there, squeezed into 130 scrupulously edited words. I love the diverse variety of spiritual writers in Give us this Day. This week, of course, they called on Kathleen Norris to address the ennui of Job. She’s Christianity’s expert on soul sadness.

I never miss the scripture reflections from St. Louis University. John Pilch addresses the different kinds of fevers Peter’s mother-in-law may have had. Reginald Fuller shows the ingenious connections between the readings, and how beautifully today’s psalm―he heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds―speaks to despondent Job as well as that jubilant woman who, upon being healed, immediately rises and serves.

The great scholar Dennis Hamm, SJ, notes that Jesus is all about relationships. If there is sorrow or illness or demon possession in the life of anyone he loves―that would be YOU, by the way―he intends to be there, to lay hands and say, “Get up.”

I try to be completely open-minded about all of these insightful scholars, but once I click on John Kavanaugh, SJ I’m gone. He points his arrow of insight straight at my heart, and pierces me every time. This week’s clincher: The call of the wounded is not merely some problem to solve or avoid; it is an invitation to love’s redemptive power. I immediately flash on a dozen experiences in my life just this week that bear that out, and as I experience the delicious awareness of the Healer abiding with me I feel like 7-Up all over.

In what ways have you been aware of Christ “abiding” with you this week?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015