Advent – Cycle A

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

8 December 2013

Reflecting on Isaiah 11: 1-10

Imagine that Someone was offering you the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Isaiah mentions in today’s reading.  Here are your choices:

Wisdom:   Those who possess wisdom will save the world.  Let this gift work in you, helping you to order your life around the things that endure.  Let the words of your mouth, and the meditations of your heart, be touched by wisdom this year.

Understanding:    What a comfort it is to have a friend who truly understands you.  We make quick judgments of people these days.  Those with the gift of understanding are never quick to judge, always quick to listen.

Counsel:    This supernatural gift works with your intuition to help you discern God’s work in your life.  God is healing and saving every day.  Use your voice and your life to be God’s co-agent.

Strength:    Strength is standing with a friend when she is losing the positive regard of your other friends.  Strength is the day-to-day showing up, at work, at home, at prayer.  As the poster of the tree, battered but standing, in my oncologist’s office says, Do not pray for an easy life.  Pray to be a strong person.

Knowledge:    There’s nothing as peaceful as knowing your own truth.  But don’t confuse this with what the culture wants you to know.  There is a Spirit-voice that will lead you in deeper peace and knowledge of how you want to be in the world.

Fear of the Lord:    When was the last time you stopped the car in mid-errand and just looked at Creation all around you?  Breathe in the crisp winter air.  Revel in the profound changes that this season brings.  Don’t go a single day without the awareness of the AWESOMENESS of God.

Which gift do you need the most right now?

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 A

2 December 2013

Reflecting on Matthew 24: 37-44

Here’s a thought.  What if the Second Coming of Christ isn’t being held off by God, but held off by us?  What if, as St. Charles Borromeo suggests, “Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again”, and we’re the ones who are delaying his coming?

Here are a few of the ways I’ve experienced the “drawing near” of Christ in my life:

  1. When, outside of “sacred surroundings”, people share about the ways in which Christ is working in their lives.  Or, just because they want to, people sing psalms and hymns together.  Or they talk about the homily in the car on the way home.  Or they pray together, just because they saw each other in church and know that Jesus is their connection.
  2. When people who were estranged join hands in friendship.  There is nothing more powerful than forgiveness, no quicker way to enter the kingdom of God than to watch enemies begin to speak to one another.  Especially if we are the ones estranged, and we are the ones to make the first move toward reconciliation.    Test this out this holiday season, and let the Prince of Peace overwhelm you with his immediate presence.
  3. When we are forced out of our comfort zones and find ourselves making friends with people of every race, language, and way of life.  People, after all, are the crowning glory of God’s creation.  Find ways to enjoy the company of people different from you, and guess what?  There is Jesus, right in your midst.

The advent of the kingdom is only this: Draw near to him, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).

In what ways will you help the kingdom draw near this year?

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

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

18 December 2010

Reflecting on Matthew 1:18-24

Do you know this old joke?

Johnny:  Mom, I get to play St. Joseph in the Christmas program!

Mom:    Go back and tell Sister you want a speaking part.

It’s true.  Joseph doesn’t utter a single word in any of the Gospels, and if it weren’t for Matthew, with his unique memory of St. Joseph’s saving role in the protection of Mary throughout her pregnancy―and  of the Mother and Child after the birth, with the dangerous flight into Egypt and eventual return― we wouldn’t know much about St. Joseph at all.

As early as the second century, writers began adding their own imaginative additions to the scant information given in the Gospels about both Mary and Joseph.

In those books we learn that Joseph was a widower with several children; hence the several occurrences of the New Testament phrase “the brothers and sisters of the Lord”.  (That’s one reason he is often drawn as an old man in Nativity scenes.)  In these stories, Mary lived in the Temple.  When she was fourteen all the unmarried men from the royal lineage of David were summoned so that her spouse could be chosen.   Calling on the prophecy from Isaiah that we heard last week―a branch shall come forth from the family of Jesse, a blossom shall bud from that tree―they all brought branches and extended them.  And sure enough!  The Holy Spirit descended on Joseph’s branch.

That’s why St. Joseph is often depicted in art as holding a branch with a blossom on the top.

Never mind that St. Jerome later said “phooey” to the stories by simply translating “brothers” as “cousins” and ending the need to create stories to line up with theology.  There’s something charming about it anyway.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

What customs do you share about St. Joseph?

This column was written in my head while having a fascinating conversation with my friend and greatest teacher, Sr. Macrina Scott, OSF, who once again opened me up to the wideness and depth of our Catholic traditions, some of which made it into Scripture!

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 A

11 December 2010

Reflecting on James 5:7-10

It’s easy to tell someone to be patient, and so hard to actually do it.  Our children need us to watch them closely, but they also need enormous amounts of “looking the other way” as they mature and eventually find their way in the world without us.

Our aging parents need our patience.  As they deal with the greatest losses in life―loss of health, loss of memory―they need us to care for them, finding creative ways to help them recover strength and well-being in an increasingly unsettling world.

We need to be patient with ourselves, too.  Real change―changes in how we eat, how we live, how we regain strength after surgery or an illness―will surely come.  Just as the farmer awaits the yield of the soil by waiting for both the early and the late rains, we watch ourselves for the changes we work on little by little through the years.

Last spring I had an ingrown toenail removed.  The whole event took about six months.  The new nail grew in as the old nail died.  I could actually see the boundary between death and new life every time I examined my toe. We don’t see that transition as clearly in other parts of our lives until, one day, we look at someone we love and ask, “When did you get so tall?  So beautiful?  So self-assured?  When did you grow into yourself?”

Patience, people.  God is surely at work in us, giving us grace and insight as the years go by.  Watch for the changes in yourself that signal that the Lord has been near all along.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

How can you help God help you make a real change?

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 A

4 December 2010

Reflecting on Isaiah 11:1-10

Ah, the peaceable kingdom.  How we long for the day when the wolf shall be guest of the lamb, and the calf and the young lion browse together.  But how on earth (and in heaven) do we build it?

Peaceable Kingdom, painting Edward Hicks

I recently came across a letter from my childhood friend Gloria, written on the occasion of my mother’s death.  I’ve saved it all these years because I need to take in the comfort that her words still give me:  Kathy, you loved your mom so well. Don’t make yourself sick in the years to come agonizing that you didn’t do enough. I stand as a witness to your life, and I’m telling you that you loved her well.

And then the peace comes.  And flowing from that peace comes the grace to send similar letters to people I know who may need an extra infusion of love today.  Is there anybody in my life I can let off the hook?  Is there anyone to whom I can say, “That little thing?  Are you kidding?? Don’t even worry about it!  I totally forgot about it a million years ago.”

Is there a friend or relative whose entire DNA is completely foreign to you, whose behavior is consistently grating, whose past offenses haven’t been nearly as itemized and publicized as they should be?  Tap into the grace that is always there―the kingdom of God is within you―and see them as God does, who has been the constant witness to their life and wants to heal them today, through you.

There is no peace until we are each at peace, and it begins now.  Find someone to be extra gracious to today.  And then stand back and watch the kingdom break forth.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

Have you ever seen someone differently when you look through God’s eyes?

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 A

27 November 2010

Reflecting on Romans 13:11-14

I once had an intense experience of darkness on a freezing Colorado night at the Trappist monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.  Retreatans are invited to walk the mile from the retreat house to the chapel for Vigils at 4:30 am.  In that entire, moonless valley, the single light was a humble bulb over the chapel door.  For those who didn’t stray from the path it must have seemed an easy journey towards the light.  But for me― lost, cold, uneasy in the dark mountains―the absence of a light to guide me seemed thoughtless and almost hostile.

I’ve never forgotten that feeling of abandonment and cold.  There were no stars, and no bright moon to illuminate the path.  My feet were numb, and I had lent my gloves to a person I had only met an hour ago.  I walked several miles alone in that valley, lost, searching the sky for the first violet of dawn.

And it came, of course.  Morning stars pulled the violets and rose from the sky.  The night had advanced, the day was at hand.  And as the morning light awakened the valley I could see it finally―that tiny light just off to my left, the light that had been there all the time, beckoning me to the warmth of the chapel.

I think about that light this Advent, and I wonder how many silent souls are out there in the cold, searching for us, but unable to find us because our light is too dim, too distant, too familiar to those who know the way and too far away for those who are lost.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

How brightly does your light shine in the darkness?

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

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