Monthly Archives: March 2023

Fifth Sunday of Lent – Cycle A

25 March 2023

Reflection on John 11: 1-45

Every three years we circle back to this story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This is the week when we picture Martha, rushing to meet Jesus, who waited a full two days before setting out to Bethany after hearing the news of Lazarus’ illness.

They greet each other, and then, immediately, Martha’s words of indictment: Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. That’s the killer, the stab to the heart, because it strikes so close to home. How many losses have we suffered, crying Lord, if you had heard my prayers, this death would not have happened?

My experience of grief is, first, we have to forgive Jesus for not being there to save our loved one from death. Second, we acknowledge him next to us at the tomb, weeping. Third, we find ourselves upheld by Martha’s words, “even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” And then the journey of making sense of our grief, and our faith, begins.

There is something holy about grief. We enter into a sacred space, where outlines of our loved one begin to fill in, and we know them better in death than in life.

Those who identify as agnostic or atheist will read this story and ask, “Did Jesus save your loved one from death? I was at the funeral.” Those who cling to their baptism, and their faith, will bring Martha to memory and say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ.”

It is the Christ who journeys with us in all the years after loss, planting in us resurrection seeds.

Has deep grief drawn you closer to Christ?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Fourth Sunday of Lent – Cycle A

18 March 2023

Reflecting on John 9: 1-41

Let us now consider Plato. You remember him. He’s the Greek philosopher who wrote that beautiful “Myth of the Cave,” in his Republic, around 350 years before Christ. He gives the example of prisoners in a cave, whose only connections with the outside world are the flickering images on the cave wall. One of the prisoners, however, escapes, and returns with fanciful stories of light, and life, and warmth outside the cave.

He’s crazy, of course. They know that the only reality is their chains, and the cold, and the dark, and those amusing images on the wall. Remind you of anyone?

Those Pharisees, and the man’s neighbors, were so deadly intent on disproving the healing of that Man Born Blind that they came up with every possible disclaimer:

No, you just LOOK like the guy who was blind from birth!

No, I’m the guy.

But he healed you on the Sabbath! That makes him a sinner!

Well, I don’t know anything about that, but here’s what I do know: I was blind, and now I see.

I don’t ever want to be like the Pharisees, or the prisoners in the cave. I want, always, to look to the Light that is always flickering outside the rigid and sad structures of our sophisticated and cynical world. Miracles? I absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is still healing. But here’s your part. It’s the task of the baptized to help prisoners, blind to the goodness of God, step out into the Light.

What experiences have you had of healing? Have you even taken the time to notice them?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Third Sunday of Lent – Cycle A

11 March 2023

Reflecting on John 4: 5-42

I hate drinking water when I’m not thirsty, and, due to my sedentary lifestyle, I’m almost never thirsty. But there it sits, the chart of the eight empty boxes I’m supposed to check off, as I gag down those 64 ounces of water every day. It’s like having a full-time job. It’s got great benefits, but you actually have to put in the work to get them.

Metaphorically speaking, I don’t think we as a culture are very much in touch with our thirst either. There’s too many things pretending to be water. We can shove our thirst underground with endless diversions. (I gave up scrolling the internet for Lent, by the way, and all of a sudden I notice my thirst for the living God. It turns out I’m thirsty after all.) Thank God for Lent.

The thing about thirst is that, since we don’t know we’re thirsty, dehydration creeps up on us. We’re feeling achy, our brain is foggy. We blame it on everything else but the culprit: we don’t thirst for water. The opposite scenario is that we’re sick with illnesses that deplete our fluids, and all of a sudden dehydration is suffocating us.

In the chapel at the Samaritan House in Denver there is a crucifix, and the last words of Jesus underneath it: I thirst. Guests at the shelter are often found there, prostrate underneath the crucifix. They are dying of thirst, dying for recovery from poverty, dying for the deep love of Jesus.

Has dehydration set in in your soul? Have you thirsted for that which doesn’t satisfy? Tell Jesus that you thirst for him. The great gift is that he is even thirstier for you.

What ways have you used to divert yourself from your thirst for Jesus?

Kathy McGovern©2023

Second Sunday of Lent – Cycle A

4 March 2023

Reflecting on Genesis 12: 1-4a

One of the first things I learned about scripture is that God told Abram that HE AND HIS FAMILY would be a blessing. I knew that Abram would be blessed, but missed the best part, that all the communities of the earth would be blessed by him.

Imagine saying to your child as she gets out of the car for school, “Remember to bless your teacher today. Remember to give that extra sandwich to your friend who never has his lunch.” Such is the world blessed.

In fact, a portion of the Talmud— the rabbinic debates in the 2nd-5th century on the teachings of the Torah—insists that it’s forbidden to benefit from the world without making a blessing! I guess that means my sister has it right. When we visit her in San Diego we must stop at every scenic turn in the road to notice the greatness of God.

As I stare at the beautiful Valentine bouquet my Muslim friend Zeenat sent me, I remember how deeply her presence, and that of all her family, has blessed me. I recall circling the huge University parking lot for a space so I could attend her graduation. Her younger brother and sister-in-law rushed to their car and drove it away so that I could have their close-in spot. Such a blessing.

The three great religions all spring from Abram. Visit Bethlehem some Christmas Eve and try to navigate through the thousands of Jews, Christians, and Muslims all crowding together. Descendants like the stars in the skies, indeed.

Jesus Christ, descendant of Abraham, has fulfilled the command to be a blessing. By his cross, death, and resurrection, he has set us free.

In what ways do you make of your life a blessing?

Kathy McGovern©2023