Monthly Archives: December 2020

Feast of the Holy Family

26 December 2020

CHRISTMAS IN THE TIME OF COVID

At this point, we all know the drill.

Stay away. Keep your distance. Wait this out.

But God knows our tensions, our anxieties,

Our weakened immune systems.

God did not stay away

Nor keep a safe distance

Nor wait for a more receptive world to greet Him.

He came in the time of Occupation

And disease

And famine

And war.

“God with Us”

Even in our isolation

And masks

And worrisome coughs.

MARANATHA, Come Lord Jesus

And pitch Your tent with every grieving child

Every feverish grandparent

Every lonely person looking for Your face.

Comfort, give Comfort

To Your people, oh God.

And speak tenderly to us

That this year of misery has ended,

And we are found in your grace.

AMEN.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

19 December 2020

Reflecting on Luke 1: 26-38

I have a very nerdy obsession. I love figuring out how the Gospel and the First Reading are related. I came to this fairly late, I think. The new lectionary, a direct child of Vatican II, debuted on the First Sunday of Advent, 1969. I’ll bet it was a full year later when, after listening to the Gospel, I turned to my dad and said, “Wait a minute. Did anybody ever notice that the First Reading and the Gospel are kind of connected?”

Probably because I discovered this all on my own (and it only took me a year!) I’ve always liked looking at the two readings and coming to my own conclusions about how they are connected. It’s like that time we were in the movie theater watching “Music Man” and my mom started giggling. Marian the Librarian was singing, slowly and thoughtfully, “Goodnight, My Someone,” while Harold Hill was singing, fast and fortissimo, “Seventy-Six Trombones.”

“What’s funny?” I asked. “Listen,” she said. “They’re the same song.” Did you ever notice that? I loved discovering that. One was fast, one slow, one soft, one loud, but the same song. The connection between those two readings—with the responsorial psalm as the light illuminating the theme of both readings—is similar. They aren’t the same, obviously, but they match. Or, as Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

So don’t miss the great, profound rhyme in the readings today. King David wants to build a house for the Ark that traveled with the Hebrews those forty desert years. And the Holy Spirit wants to make Mary the Ark for the One who travels with us. Get it? It’s the same song.

Has Mary ever served as the conduit – or Ark of encounter with Jesus for you?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

12 December 2020

Reflecting on John 1: 6-8, 19-28

Are you a voice crying in the desert? It’s frustrating to have a message you’d love the world to hear, and you try to shout that message into the world. But all you hear in reply are crude jokes and snide remarks.

Are we just too sophisticated for the gospel, even here in 2020, when the gospel has never been more desperately needed? Or is it just that people don’t read more than the headlines, and they decide from there what their position is? It must be so heartbreaking to be a great journalist, to labor for a year on a piece that sees the light of day for one news cycle, and to hear the deafening silence of your audience, clicking past your work for the next cat video.

I think about John the Baptist. I wonder if his diet of locusts and wild honey, and his scratchy garment of camel’s hair, was really just to draw people’s attention from whatever diversions they were enjoying and to draw them out to the desert.

I know for sure that the desert, with its stunning landscapes and fascinating insect life, wouldn’t hold my attention if I could somehow get WIFI and cellphone reception. I’m sure I’d find some flashy desert video to watch instead of actually tasting and breathing the real thing.

John had a message, a truth that he had found, and he was willing to make himself look ridiculous in order to get the attention of those who needed to hear it so badly. He went to Herod’s dungeon because of that Truth. He died for that Truth.

And if you listen very carefully, you can hear him preaching still.

What would you love to shout out to the world?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

5 December 2020

Reflecting on Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11

It turns out everything I’ve ever taught about chapter forty of the prophet Isaiah was wrong. It’s written for an exiled people living 25 centuries ago! Wrong. It’s meant to give hope to the disconsolate Jews living in Babylon! Wrong. It’s shoring them up to be brave as they decide whether to trust God and go back to Israel, or to stay put! Wrong.

No, no, no. If ever we can appropriate an ancient sacred text and know that it was written for our time, it’s Isaiah’s words of consolation. I’ll bet they jumped right off the page when you heard (or read) them this weekend.

Comfort, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Proclaim that her service is at an end. Imagine being an exhausted and sick health care worker, hearing for the first time in a year (please God, let this be done in a year!) that the pandemic is over. You can now go home and sleep for a week.

In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! We know about deserts now. We know about grandparents, desperate to squeeze their far-away grandbabies, desperate to not miss a minute more of their precious babyhood. We know about children, longing for friends and teachers, and parents, longing for them even more! That’s a desert too.

But fear not, dear friends. God is near. Like a shepherd God feeds us (through the strength and goodness of all who run food pantries, or work in grocery stores, or drive delivery trucks). God carries us, yea, even though we walk through the dark valley of death.

Take comfort, people. It turns out, Isaiah’s words were written for us.

How do these words touch you differently this Advent?

Kathy McGovern ©2020