Monthly Archives: November 2019

First Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

30 November 2019

Reflecting on Matthew 24: 37-44

One of the endless blessings of positioning oneself in the direction of a spiritual life is that the giants come into your orbit and, through the sheer force of their goodness and faithfulness, pull you into new and scary directions. 

In my privileged life I’ve worked with the Sisters of Loretto, the Daughters of Charity, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Vincentians, the Dominicans, the  Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the Benedictines, the Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Carmelites, and the Holy Cross Sisters and priests. The most powerful of all the communities, though, are the millions of laity who align themselves with the charisms of these historic orders.

I’m thinking of all those wonderful women and men on this first Sunday of Advent. The religious communities are such a rich and powerful piece of the Catholic experience and witness in the world. They are, more than anything, communities of Advent people. 

By choosing lives of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and by being so utterly counter-cultural in their prophetic lifestyles, they are pointing with their lives to a greater reality than what the eye can see. This world is coming to an end. Live as if the day is at hand.

Wake up. Pay attention to the rampant injustices around the world. Live with intentional kindness. Lead the way in advocating for everyone on the margins. Get to know people who don’t look like you. Use your life in preparation for the way of the Lord.

Every person ever born carries a certain indelible Advent mark, a certain surety that our lives are coming to an end. How, then, shall we live?

What is your Advent prophetic witness this season?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

9 November 2019

Reflecting on 2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14

Eighty years later, Hitler is STILL the number one best-selling topic in book sales. I admit I can never get enough of the horrible Nazis. Immersing myself in the lives of those who died in the camps fills me with a bone-deep gratitude for my warm house, with warm food, and my warm spouse, who is here with me instead of parachuting behind enemy lines somewhere in Europe, 1943.

“It is better to do evil than to BE evil,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, explaining why he, a beloved Lutheran minister, could take part in an assassination attempt. He could justify doing wrong for the greater good of ridding the world of Hitler, but, conversely, would NOT justify doing wrong—saluting, or taking an oath of fidelity to the Reich—for the “greater good” of keeping his church open during the war.

I’ll bet that, during the first religious persecution in history, people urged the Maccabee brothers and their mother to just go along to get along. Eat their stupid pork, they begged. Try not to notice there is a statue of the emperor on the altar in the Temple, they pleaded. But the Maccabees wouldn’t accommodate, and so they died horrible deaths.

There are many things today we are expected to “accommodate” in order not to rock the boat. I have some friends who will endure listening to racism and ignorance in order to keep the conversation “pleasant” at Thanksgiving dinner. I have other friends for whom the pro-choice position of some family members makes holding their tongues impossibly painful.

I’m inspired by the martyrs. Year after year, I choose not to be one. Please pass the gravy.

Have you ever endured the fallout from doing the right thing?

Kathy McGovern ©2019

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

3 November 2019

Reflecting on Luke 19: 1-10

I think that we are all doing the best we can. It’s tough out there. We have to be great parents, attentive and available grandparents, debt-free, environmentally conscious, active parishioners, and avidly working on our fat-to-muscle ratio.

Outsiders might look at our rowdy kids and say, “Why doesn’t someone teach those parents how to discipline their kids?” Others might say, in the car after the party, “I can’t believe they used paper plates when they could have just brought out their regular dishes and washed them later. I thought they were supposed to be such environmentalists.” Or, the worst, “She says she’s watching her cholesterol, but did you see that piece of cake she ate?”

Looking at us from the outside, it appears that we are hypocritical and lazy. But the Incarnate Jesus, the one who dwells with us, isn’t looking from the outside. He dwells within us, and breathes every breath with us. He is with us during the endless sleepless nights we endure with our kids. He is with us when we recycle the annoying cardboard boxes. He is with us when we spend those lonely late-night hours working to get out of debt, or to face and recover from our addictions.

What Zaccheus experienced when Jesus, who had talked so often about the dignity and worth of the poor, called this rich man down from the sycamore tree and invited himself over for dinner. The Incarnate One knew he was doing the best he could, and Zaccheus, overjoyed at being held in the embrace of Love, did even better than his best for the rest of his life.

Whose belief in you has inspired you to be the best you can be?

Kathy McGovern c. 2019