Monthly Archives: November 2022

First Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

26 November 2022

Reflecting on Isaiah 2: 1-5

When the war against Ukraine began on February 24th of this year, some friends asked if I would write a prayer for the Ukrainians, every day until the war ended. “Sure,” I said, “It looks like it’s only going to last a couple of weeks.” And so I wrote a prayer every day. I subscribed to an extra New York Times edition that gives daily updates on the war.

And by Pentecost (June 5th) I knew that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t stare at that darkness one more day. I couldn’t make myself know about the war. I cried “Uncle,” and almost immediately the sadness began to lift.

I remembered that the other day, when a kind friend said, “Kathy, I want you to send LIGHT to Putin.” And I realized that the opposite had happened. The more light I tried to send, the darker my world became.

It’s Advent now, and the war is still raging. I let those Advent readings shine a flashlight into my heart, seeking out the darkness, and exhorting me to work towards the day when “nations shall not train for war again” (Is. 2:4).

The great scripture scholar John McKenzie, SJ, says this: “Paul advises the Romans to live now what they want forever.” That’s it exactly, isn’t it? Live right this minute what you want forever to look like. For Paul, that meant giving up the allure of darkness, of illicit sexual unions, of drunkenness. Live today how you want every day of eternity to be.

I want the war to end, today. I re-commit to daily prayer for this, because peace today is what I want for every day of eternity.

How are you living now what you want forever?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

The Solemnity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

19 November 2022

Reflecting on Luke 23: 35-43

Every year at this time I remember my great friend, Auxiliary Bishop George Evans. He died on the evening of the vigil of the Triumph of the Cross, September 13, 1985. It seemed an appropriate day for this gracious, prophetic man to go to God. Lift high the cross, we sang at his overflowing funeral at the Cathedral. It was that cross to which Bishop Evans clung every day of his priesthood.

When we come to the end of the Church year, with this Solemnity of Christ the King, the message is clear: Our King died a horrible death on a cross. There is no other story in human consciousness that asserts a God who is so vulnerable that he actually, truly died a vicious, horrible death.

And the hardest part, I think, of Luke’s account is that he was mocked even as he fought for every breath on the cross. Hey, I thought you were a king or something. Now’s the time to whistle for your army and have them deliver you (and us) from the monster Romans.

I am one of those who cling to the old rugged cross. I’m in a situation right now where I really can’t get control of pain. I thank God every day that we have a God who suffered horribly, and who died. I cling to the sufferings of Christ. Are you in pain? Jesus knows. Are you lonely? Have you been betrayed by those closest to you? He knows that pain too.

The message couldn’t be clearer: this is our God, utterly destroyed on the cross. Cling to his cross. The kingdom is at hand.

Jesus, remember us when you come into your kingdom.

In what areas of your life do you cling to the Cross?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

12 November 2022

Reflecting on Lk. 21: 5-19

There have been some horrible days in history, days for which we give thanks we weren’t alive to see. Most of those reading this were alive on 9/11, and a good many of us were around for Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. Fewer, but still many readers, were alive the day of the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Fewer still, but some, witnessed the day the stock market crashed, October 29, 1929.

But no one alive today witnessed the horrifying invasion of Jerusalem by the general, and future emperor, Titus, at Passover of the year 70 of the Common Era (CE). Anyone could have seen this coming. The Jerusalem Temple had become an unwitting sanctuary for the Zealots, a terrorist group whose mission was to so demoralize the Romans that they would scatter and leave Jerusalem for good.

Think of the Resistance Movements all over Europe during the war. Those courageous citizens risked everything in order to free Europe of tyranny. Were the Zealots of the first century heroes too? Their usual method of terror was to ambush a group of Roman soldiers and murder them. The Romans were the Occupiers, of course, and despised and dreaded. But the Zealots also preyed upon Jews whom they deemed collaborators (like

Zacchaeus, the tax collector). Jesus invited himself into friendship with tax collectors. The Zealots murdered them.

It was the Zealots who so enraged the Romans that they marched into Jerusalem and destroyed it. This is the terrible event about which Jesus warns in the gospel today, when “not one stone” of the Temple would be left standing.

These end-of-the-world readings always precede the season of Advent. Ready the way.

How has the war in Ukraine made your prayer life more urgent?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

5 November 2022

Reflecting on 2Mc. 7:1-2, 9-14

We don’t pay attention to it, probably, because that gruesome story of the murder of the seven Maccabees and their steadfast mother takes our breath away, but there’s a great theological leap at the end of that passage. The fourth brother says he is dying, “with the hope God gives of being raised up by him.”

WAIT, WHAT? A Hebrew man, one hundred and seventy years before Christ, expressing belief in the resurrection? It was not in his tradition, but somehow he knew. God, says Ecclesiastes 3:11, has given us wisdom for the day, yet has set eternity in our hearts.

We’re marching forward to Advent, each week’s readings taking us closer to what the ancients thought the end of the world might look like. That’s why we start all over again every Advent, because no one yet, even Jesus, has let the world know exactly what happens to us after our last breath. So we keep repeating the Story, waiting in joyful hope for the day when we see Jesus face to face, a day when, apparently, no words will ever be enough.

But still, Advent carols looming on the horizon, I’m thinking about last year’s Easter Vigil. That dark church, that flickering fire, that Easter Candle, and then, one by one, the candles of every believer in the church lighting up. And here’s what we heard, although no one said a word: Pass this on, what was passed on to you, and what will be passed on until the end of time: Christ is risen. And he is taking you with him. ALLELUA.

So pass it on. The world has changed. You may be the only person to tell someone about the resurrection. ALLELUIA.

In what ways do you sense that eternity is set in your heart?

Kathy McGovern ©2022