Monthly Archives: January 2022

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

29 January 2022

Reflecting on I Cor. 13: 4-13

Last weekend I attended the funeral of a dear high school friend. John had a warmth, and a loving way of including everyone within a hundred miles, that left a palpable energy of joy long after he’d left the room.

He married my dear friend Barb forty-nine years ago, and together they raised the kindest, MOST darling daughters. Sullivan, one of their precious grandsons, while sitting on his mother’s lap, heard the devastating news that his dear grandpa had died. He cried and cried, and then, sobbing, told his dad, “This is the saddest sad I’ve ever been.”

The church was packed; the music just exactly perfect. The two eulogists— first, his sister, next, his heartbroken son-in-law—remembered him as the sweet, funny brother he was, and the endlessly generous and gracious man he became.

The presider, a classmate of John’s, captured him so vividly, so hilariously, that, somewhere around the Eucharistic Prayer,  you could begin to feel the night turn into day. Everything so lovingly placed in the sanctuary—the flowers, the sports caps, the delightful photo of him, looking mischievous and up-to-something—began to almost hum with energy.

And when we reached the words Do this in memory of me, my thoughts turned to St. Paul’s famous words. Yes, when you are patient, and kind, not rude, not quick-tempered, bearing all things, hoping all things, when your love never fails, then you are living in memory of Jesus.

I wonder. What words, what photos, what funny hats of mine will one day hum with an energy I tried all my life to create, an echo of the Love of Jesus, and a simple life lived in Memory of him?

What memories of you will bring such joy that people will recall today’s reading about love?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

22 January 2022

Reflecting on I Cor. 12:12-14, 27

My husband Ben returned from a recent trip to Juarez, Mexico with a beautiful painting of Joseph and the Child Jesus. We put it up against the wall, and soon Christmas cards surrounded it on all sides. It was touching to see the art on the cards, celebrating the birth of Jesus, and this lovely painting in the center.

It’s kind of an old-fashioned painting, but here’s what I noticed: I like looking at it. It makes me happy. It’s probably not great art. I’ve decided I don’t care. In fact, just yesterday, as we finally took away all the cards, we chose to make the painting a permanent fixture on the wall.

I’ve loved the image of the Child Jesus since we visited Ávila, Spain a few years ago, and heard this touching story about St. Teresa. One night, Teresa was walking the grounds of the monastery when she saw a beautiful child. “Who are you?” he asked. “I’m Teresa of the Child Jesus. Who are you?” And He answered, “I am the Child Jesus of Teresa.”

Even today, the tears come. We are “of him,” and he is “of us.” And so, today, when I read about six thousand members who serve more than 75,000 children living in poverty—the demographic nearest my heart—I was touched at the name of the organization: The National Christ Child Society. I signed up.

See, I think that’s how the gifts Paul speaks about become actualized. An image on the wall, a touching story from my adult life, and the exact ministry I’ve been looking for, all with The Child Jesus in the title. That’s how the Spirit speaks. That’s how the Body works.

How does beauty and religious imagination empower your own ministries?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

15 January 2022

Reflecting on John 2: 1-11

That wedding that Jesus attended with his friends could very well have already gone on for several days. Weddings were huge events in the first century Middle East, as they are today. I imagine that Mary had been serving the guests. We see this part of her character right off the bat in Luke, when she sets out immediately, right after the Annunciation, to walk all ninety miles to visit the home of her cousin, Elizabeth. Why? Because she wanted to serve her in the last months of her pregnancy.

So we know this about Mary: she serves. It makes perfect sense that she would have been serving at the wedding, and, dreading that her friends be embarrassed, went immediately to Jesus and said, “They have no more wine.”

This is funny. We get the sense that this Jewish mother knows her son better than he does. He doesn’t know what all this has to do with him, but she does. She has known, from his conception—Luke’s gospel, again—that he has “come to His people to set them free” (1:68). Did she know that he could turn huge vats of water into wine? I think she knew he would do far greater than that.

And don’t miss this: Jesus addresses his mother twice in John, here and at the foot of the cross (19:26). Both times he calls her “Woman”. Ah. Just like the eleven times Eve is called “Woman” in Genesis. The Jewish ear immediately understood that Jesus is telling us that Mary is the New Eve, the New Mother whose Son has come to redeem us from the Liar, the Serpent.

Created. Abducted. Ransomed by the one who sets us free.

How will you work, in this new year, to “do whatever he tells you”?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

The Baptism of the Lord – Cycle C

8 January 2022

Reflecting on Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22

He says many fiery things in the gospels, this cousin of Jesus. He rants about broods of vipers trying to escape the coming wrath. He rails against adulterous Herods and their adulterous wives. But the sentence I most associate with him—other than his embryonic announcement of the Messiah from his mother’s womb—is what he says about Jesus: I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. It touches me deeply that, at the height of his renown in the desert, he was willing to step out of the frame so that Jesus could come into perfect focus.

Oh, to see Thee more clearly, Jesus. I long for it. The entire Catholic Culture presses me to see You in Your most distressing disguise, those who are poor in all kinds of ways. I try not to know about them, but, of course, that will be a ridiculous defense when I meet You. I will never be able to say I didn’t know.

Maybe I try not to know because I so deeply recognize that I’m not worthy to loosen the sandals of those whose lives are so challenging. I couldn’t do for one day what aging grandparents are doing in order to keep their imperiled grandchildren safe and sheltered. I know I couldn’t do for more than a few hours what those caring for spouses and parents with dementia do, endless day after endless day.

I am aware of the giants around me. But this year I resolve to look for Jesus in the daily courage of the unseen, people’s whose challenges I could never, never meet. Step into the frame, Jesus. I long to see You.

Who are the people whose sandals you are unworthy to loosen?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Epiphany of the Lord – Cycle C

1 January 2022

Reflecting on Matthew 2: 1-2

Wouldn’t you love to know more about those mysterious Magi, who left everything to follow a Star from the day of its rising? They fascinate me. There are innumerable legends about them, including their names Balthazar (of Arabia), Melchior (of Persia),  and Caspar (of India). One of the more charming legends is that in the ancient silk road city of Taxila (in present-day Punjab, Pakistan), one of the Magi passed through the city on the way to Bethlehem.

Later Christian writings identified them as kings, certainly because the Old Testament scriptures bear many prophecies of royalty. Today’s first reading from Isaiah 60:1-6 refers to “kings coming to the brightness of your dawn,” and the Responsorial Psalm sings of “all kings falling down before him” (72:11).  It made perfect sense to imagine that these very wise men must have been the royalty the Old Testament writers were awaiting. Maybe they were.

Here’s what fascinates me. These Gentiles saw a bright star rising, and they left everything to follow it. When it hovered over Jerusalem they stopped and announced themselves as ones who had come to give homage to the newborn King of the Jews. Isn’t that astounding? They were willing to leave their pre-Christian worldviews in search of a Jewish King. Why?

I think it’s because that’s how God touches all of us. God recruits all of nature to tell the glory of God. The winter chill, the spring rains, the abundant summer fruits, the stunning autumns, all speak to a God who is with us. I think the Magi were just fascinated, as we are, by the heavens touching down to earth, and saying, “Here. Here. Come and worship.”

What was your greatest “Epiphany” of the nearness of God this year?

Kathy McGovern ©2022