Monthly Archives: November 2018

Solemnity of Christ the King – Cycle B

27 November 2018

Reflecting on John 18: 33b-37

There are moments, or maybe places, or probably memories, which, when summoned, can bring us to a place of deep truth. Pilate had one of those moments. He had this interesting, serene Jew in front of him. He had the power to crucify him, yet this Jew did not plead for his life. Nor would he engage in any defense.

Aren’t you the king of the Jews? roared Pilate. Jesus looked around, and then stated the obvious: My kingdom does not belong to this world.

There are places that do not belong to the kingdom of Jesus. My husband recently visited Auschwitz, that place so clearly taken over by demons. All the visitors were struck dumb in the presence of pure evil. The kingdom of Jesus is not there.

But let’s not linger, for the kingdom of Jesus will redeem all those deaths. Let’s linger where truth resides. For example, Pope Francis said recently, “You cannot be a Christian and an anti-Semite.” Doesn’t that truth take you to a place outside this world, to a place, say, that resembles the kingdom of heaven?

Or maybe it was a courageous family member who confronted you about an addiction. Or were you, perhaps, the one to confront the lies of addiction with truth?

Perhaps you were with a person with some disabilities, and observed how respectfully and kindly he or she was treated. There. It’s easy to spot it. There is the reign of God. Step into it.

There are traces of the kingdom all around us, embedded in courage and kindness. Or, as the great C.S. Lewis wrote, “The word is out that the king may land.”

But until that day…ah…Advent.

Where do you experience the profound peace of the kingdom of God?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

17 November 2018

Reflecting on Mark 13: 24-32

The other day I was scrolling through the photos on my phone.  I’d forgotten that I’d taken pictures of our backyard urban garden last year. There, in still life, stood cold and dreary January. But the next picture opened up another world: the hoeing and planting, and the beautiful rows and rows of the tiny greens of May. And then, with just a click, there they were: thousands of lush, plump red tomatoes, ready for harvest, ready for their destination at food banks around town. Yum.

My favorite photo is one the day before our big freeze last month. Their baskets overflowing, the gardeners left a few hundred yellow and green and red tomatoes in a bucket on our porch, ready to be taken away as soon as they had room in their overflowing truck.

It’s the last picture that’s so stunning, though. Just a week after the frost, our backyard morphed from the Garden of Eden into a Halloween ghost town. Dead, sad branches moaned. Lifeless, leafless plants bent over into sad farewell. And there it all was, right there, on a phone I’d been ignoring for years. Life and death are accessible to me now, every time I click “Photos.”

That’s what this 33rd Sunday has always been about. We are ordered to open ourselves to the life and death we each carry deep in our hearts. Yes, the winter is upon us, and we know not the day nor hour when we will see Jesus.

But here’s the good news. Jesus is Lord of the summer and the winter. Bidden or unbidden, death awaits us all. Our job is to keep planting, and harvesting, and waiting in joyful hope.

How do you hold life and death deep in your heart?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

13 November 2018

Reflecting on Mark 12: 38-44

I love hanging around people who give everything they have, just because that’s where their joy is. I adore watching grandparents with their adorable little ones, not caring that crawling around and lifting up babies sets off that bad back.

I like watching people doing jobs they love.  Everyone I know who plays an instrument well would happily play all night. People who are great at hospitality, who know how to make strangers feel comfortable and friends feel welcomed, would do that every day if we would let them.

I would write this column twice a day if church bulletins were set up that way. My husband Ben would fix the muffler on our car every week of his life if it would just keep breaking. We love to pursue what makes us happy, and the saddest people, I suspect, are those who are deprived of that most basic of human rights.

I remember the great 90s sitcom Mad About You, and how well it captured the essence of the main characters. But I don’t need a haircut, said the husband to his ultra-energetic wife.  I know, she said, but I really need to give you one.

That’s the thing we need to remember. Sometimes, ‘tis truly better to receive than to give, because it means so much to the giver.

I wonder about that widow in the Temple. Yes, the scribes were a disgrace in comparison with her. But the people I know who give everything they have do so because, for them, nothing comes close to that kind of joy. I want to hope that’s what was going on with her.

What do you love to do because it brings you joy?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

4 November 2018

Reflecting on Deuteronomy 6: 2-6

Well, we’ve celebrated the saints, and all this month we remember all the souls who have gone to God. In just a breath or two we’ll be headlong into Advent―blessed Advent―and then glorious, trumpet-sounding Christmas.

And so, before it all gets away, let’s just breathe. We’ve been immersed in Mark’s gospel all these months. How has it changed us? Every three years we are in the grip of the most urgent of the gospels, written during a time of terrifying torture and death for those who followed the WAY.

Surely if there is any Old Testament passage that captures the passion of Mark it’s the one that Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy today. He begs us to love the Lord with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength.

I love remembering the giants we celebrated all last month. Has anyone in history loved God with more heart than St. Francis of Assisi? Are there any martyrs who gave their soul and mind to Jesus more than St. Ignatius of Antioch?

But it’s St. Teresa of Avila who is in my heart today. It’s so touching how much the young people of Avila love her. “We call Thérèse of Lisieux the Little Flower,” they’ll tell you proudly. “But ours is Teresa of the Big Flower.”

One day in the monastery she encountered a beautiful young boy. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am Teresa of the Child Jesus. Who are you?” His reply always brings tears to my eyes: “I am the Child Jesus of Teresa.”

That’s what it means to love Jesus with our whole strength. Insert your name there. One day Jesus will call you by your true name.

How does loving Jesus make you stronger?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

3 November 2018

Reflecting on Mark 10: 46-52

The last thing Jesus does before his entrance into Jerusalem (and his eventual death) is to take pity on the blind Bartimaeus, who is calling out to him as he is leaving Jericho. In fact, this beggar is on the roadside, which I suppose means he’s begging from people leaving the city.

Some in the crowd, who think they are the experts in knowing the heart of Jesus, tell him to go away. Jesus is way too important to be bothered by him. I’ll bet this beggar is a familiar sight. The Jericho folks have probably known him all his life. He’s probably an annoyance, sitting at the gates, asking for alms, year after year. Now they have the Master in town, they’ve done their best to make a good impression, and just when they think they’ve pulled it off, there sits the blind man, calling out to him.

Ugh. This is the guy we cross the street to avoid meeting, and Jesus is walking straight towards him! Didn’t anybody think to get him off the streets before Jesus left? He’s ruining everything.

I get the feeling that, just as Bartimaeus may have strategically placed himself outside the gates so as to have better access to travelers (whom he hadn’t worn down through the years), Jesus placed himself in that exact spot so as to have maximum exposure to the beggar. He absolutely didn’t want to miss him. Or you. Or me.

At what times in your life has Jesus placed himself directly in your path?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

 

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015