Advent – Cycle C

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

19 December 2015

Reflecting on Luke 1: 39-45

Sometimes we just have to live between memory and hope. When Mary asked, “How can this be? the angel Gabriel appealed to her memory. Certainly Mary remembered the great miracle stories in the scriptures, didn’t she? Just thinking about them would have stirred her faith in what was happening right that minute. But Gabriel had another surprise. “Look!” said Gabriel. “You know your elderly, childless cousin Elizabeth? She’s pregnant! See? And God who is mighty is doing something even greater right now. Are you in?”

“I’m all in,” said Mary. Then―and don’t miss this―the angel left her. There is no evidence that the angel ever visited Mary again. Not when she was an unmarried, pregnant girl about to give birth in an over-booked Bethlehem. Not when the prophet Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart. Not even, oh God, at the foot of the cross. Not even then.

Have you chosen to remember, even in the dreadest times, God’s nearness to you in the past? Elizabeth’s words to Mary are for you too: “Blessed are you who BELIEVE that the promise of the Lord will be fulfilled.”

In what ways do you live between memory and hope?

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

13 December 2015

Reflecting on Luke 3: 10-18

“What should we do?” asked the crowd that followed John into the wilderness. He looked at each one and told them what particular thing was keeping them from the fulfilling the Law in their own lives.  “Stop cheating.”  “Stop extorting.” “Stop hoarding what you’ve got.”

Hmm.  I wonder what he would say to us.  Imagine the Baptizer encountering us, leveling his refiner’s fire at us.  I suspect we would hear things like, “Stop being anxious.  Your heavenly Father knows what you need.” Or, “Stop working so hard to provide things.  Your family needs YOU more than things.”

Or maybe, “Stop secretly harboring grudges.  Your resentments have grown tiresome. Others have overcome far worse injustices than you have. Forgive, and move on. Or is it possible that being wounded makes you happier than being healed?”

Here’s an Advent assignment: imagine John the Baptist looking into your heart. What would he tell YOU to do? And here’s the hard part: could you do it? Today’s third candle (pink for hope) promises that you could.

What changes are you making for the Year of Mercy?

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

10 December 2015

I had a “moment” in the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving. Although I had been shopping for a week, there was still a significant list of last-minute items to pick up at 4pm Wednesday afternoon. It was bitter cold outside, but the store was bumper-to-bumper buggies and their harried operators. We squeezed past each other. We smiled tight, stressed smiles while reaching over each other for rolls and marshmallows.

I snagged the last bouquet out of the cooler.  On my victorious journey to the checkout lane several people congratulated me. They laughed. I laughed. And then the realization of how ridiculous it all was came over me, and somehow I think we all felt it at the same time.

Seriously? I was stressing over a table decoration? Where am I, Syria? Iraq? Afghanistan? Mali? Paris? Colorado Springs? San Bernadino?

I don’t think I imagined this. I think a moment of what we used to call “actual grace” was released in the store, at least in the area where I was shopping.  People relaxed.  They smiled and wished a Happy Thanksgiving to strangers―those abundantly blessed buggy drivers, none of whom would be jockeying for a place at the overcrowded shelters that night, or standing on the frozen street with signs asking for spare change.

It was a Thanksgiving Miracle. An ease, a peace, an immense swelling of true gratitude seemed to waft through the store. Or maybe it was just in my heart. That’s where most of the really awesome miracles begin.

And now it is Advent, and the long-awaited Year of Mercy. Having felt the breath of the Spirit, I intend to spend this year gorging on gratitude, and handing others the last bouquet.

How will you celebrate the Year of Mercy?

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

First Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

28 November 2015

The season we wait for all year long is finally here. The purples and pinks, the smell of evergreen, the minor-key Advent carols, the darkness, the beautiful readings, and the entire sensory delight that is Advent is finally here. Let’s enjoy every delicious minute of this short and profound season.

But before that first candle burns down too far, let’s take a minute to consider the countless ways that the Long-Awaited One, for whom we longed LAST Advent, has been manifest in our lives these past 52 weeks.

December:         Advent, and Christmas, and looking ahead

January:             The Epiphany of Christ our Light.

February:            Lent began, again.

March:                Holy Week, with its endless grace.

April:                   Easter, and baptisms and First Communions and Confirmations.

May:                    Spring! Remember how beautiful it was?

June:                   Summer!

July:                    Picnics!

August:               Bike rides, and feast days, and back-to-school

September:        Glorious Indian Summer. Thank you, God

October:              The mystery of death

November:         The saints, and giving thanks

And here are the Advent candles again. Come, Lord, Jesus, and give us eyes to see your presence always.

Take ten minutes to review your year since last Advent. Can you see Christ there?

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

26 December 2012

Reflecting on Luke 1: 39-45

Last year at this time I told you of the beautiful song The Visit, which recounts Mary’s encounter with her cousin Elizabeth (and her pre-born child John the Baptist).  I received more comments on the website which accompanies this column about that song than any column in three years.  I gratefully offer it again, reprinted with permission from Sr. Miriam Therese Winter of the Medical Missionary Sisters. And may you each, like Elizabeth, experience the joy of the presence of Christ, this Christmas and always.

THE VISIT

She walked in the summer, through the heat on the hill. She hurried as one who went with a will.

She danced in the sunlight when the day was done. Her heart knew no evening.  She carried the Sun.

Fresh as a flower at the first ray of dawn, she came to her cousin, whose morning had gone.

There leaped a little child in the ancient womb, and there leaped a little hope in every ancient tomb.

Hail, little sister you herald the spring. Hail, brave mother, you carried our King.

Hail to the Moment beneath your breast. May all generations call you blessed.

When you walk in the summer through the heat on the hill, when you’re one with the wind, and one with God’s will,

Be glad with the burden you are blessed to bear. For it’s Christ who you carry everywhere, everywhere… everywhere.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

17 December 2012

Reflecting on Luke 3: 10-18

I like to imagine what John the Baptist would say to us if he saw us standing in line at the Jordan. “What should we do?” asked the crowd that had followed him into the wilderness.

He looked at each one and told them what particular thing was keeping them from the fulfilling the Law in their own lives.  “Stop cheating.”  “Stop extorting.” “Stop hoarding what you’ve got.”

Hmm.  So what would he say to us?  Imagine the Baptizer encountering us, leveling his refiner’s fire at us.  I suspect we would hear things like, “Stop being anxious.  Your heavenly Father knows what you need.”

Or, “Stop working so hard to provide things.  Your family needs YOU more than things.”  Or maybe, “Stop secretly harboring grudges.  Accept the grace to be healed of ancient wounds.”

Here’s an Advent assignment: imagine being face to face with the Baptist.  What would he require of you before plunging you in the water?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

11 December 2012

Reflecting on Luke 3: 1-6

The Preaching of St. John the Baptist by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Recently, a friend gave me a birthday card that told some of the significant events that were occurring around the time of my birth.  I now know the President of the U.S.A., most popular song, and Best Movie the year I was born.  I am a product of the times in which I have lived. I like looking at my life from the lens of history.

St. Luke likes this too, and we begin our year-long reading of his gospel by being placed right into the historical setting of Israel, circa 27A.D.  We now know, thanks to him, that at the time of John’s ministry in the wilderness (which for Luke closes the time of waiting which the Old Testament prophets endured) there were some very dark, malevolent people on thrones in Judea and Galilee.  Not only are the Roman emperor, and Judean governor, and tetrarchs of the Galilee and Judea named, but the high priests in Jerusalem are also noted.  Each of these officials will play a much larger part in the history of the world than even Caesar imagined, for they participated in the unfolding of salvation history, which is eternal.

In the midst of all this pomp and treachery we hear a voice from far in the desert, crying out, “Prepare a way for the Lord!” He is a ragged man, this John.  He knows something; he senses that the One is drawing near.  As the rest of the Roman Empire busily raises up valleys and clears roadways for the coming of some officious bureaucrat, John demands that we raise the valleys of our lost hopes, and chisel down the mountains of our hardened hearts.  The King is coming.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

First Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

1 December 2012

Presenting Megan and Micah Brewster

We had a family wedding last week, and I’m still dancing.  The beautiful, love-drunk bride and groom were so aglow with joy that the candle-lit church was no match for the light that radiated from them. They pronounced their vows to each other so graciously.  They were thrilled to bind themselves to each other, believing that those bonds will free them to love others even more perfectly.

Afterwards, at the reception, there was dancing.  Ecstatic, fun, hilarious dancing.  A sweet, eighteen-year-old cousin took turns twirling all his little cousins around and around, and as soon as they were spun out they ran right back to get in line to be twirled all over again.

Can you recall this delicious thrill of childhood, of being on a ride at a carnival and being utterly delighted, yet filled with dread of the moment the ride came to an end? As the great John Kavanaugh (he of blessed memory) wrote, the childhood we never leave is suspended between devastation and delight.

Advent is like that.  In the ever-quickening darkness we light the first candle.  We re-member (make happen again) the exhilaration of being weightless on a planet pulled by gravity.  We have already been the child whose ride finally ended.  We are not yet the child whose ride will never end.

Come, oh Child of wonder.  Come.

And congratulations, Megan and Micah.  Dance.

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015