Advent – Cycle B

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

17 December 2011

Statue of Mary and Elizabeth outside Church of the Visitation

Every year at this time I find myself thinking about a beautiful song about Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, which of course occurs right after today’s Gospel account of the Annunciation. My favorite lyrics are the last two lines of the second stanza.  Here are the words, reprinted with permission from Sr. Miriam Therese Winter of the Medical Mission Sisters:

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.

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In what ways are you carrying Christ 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 B

12 December 2011

One of the most beautiful things about the liturgical year is the lovely way the Church ties all the mysteries of faith together.  This is especially poignant with the feasts that point to the Nativity.  For all kinds of interesting reasons that may have their roots in the earliest  Christian understanding of time, the celebration of  the birth of Jesus was placed right smack at the Winter Solstice.  Why?  Perhaps to counter the pagan festival of Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun), which worshiped the sun as it dimmed to the shortest day and longest night. The Roman Emperor (who, by the way, liked to be addressed as Son of God) purposely celebrated his birthday at the exact same time.

So he thinks he’s the Invincible Sun?  Let’s place the feast of the Nativity at the Winter Solstice too, to celebrate the birth of the true Son of God.

Also, the ancient date of the Annunciation to Mary (and the conception of Jesus) –which may have even preceded the date for Christmas−−was set around the vernal equinox (March 25th), which of course was a perfect nine months before December 25th.

But it’s the date chosen for the birth of John the Baptist that I think is the most beautiful of all.  If Jesus was born at the Winter Solstice, when the sun gradually begins to increase, then John would be born at the Summer Solstice, when the sun’s power gradually decreases.

That I may decrease, and He may increase. The Baptist’s prayer whispers to us still, in the dark Advent night.

What do you like best about Advent?

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 B

9 December 2011

Reflecting on 2 Peter 3:8-14

I’m not comfortable with that second reading today, and maybe it’s because I’m taking it too literally.   The section from the Second Letter of Peter warns of the “day of the Lord”, and the fate that the heavens and earth will experience at the Second Coming.

I don’t like the idea that, when Christ comes in his glory, the heavens will “dissolve in flames” and the elements will “melt in fire”.  It was the heavens that opened up on the night of his birth so that the angels could fill the sky and sing their Glorias.  And each of the “elements”−−water, earth, metal, wood and fire−−served Christ in his ministry to us.

John baptized Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River.  Jesus wrote a mysterious message in the earth while forgiving the woman caught in adultery. The metal coin on which the Roman’s engraved Caesar’s image provided the perfect teaching moment for Jesus.  The wood of the cross held the Savior of the world, and the fires of Pentecost still enflame the world today.

The beautiful but gasping earth is our home.  Pollution obscures the skies, but they still hold the majestic stars. The waters are belching with our waste, but they still are home to billions of silent creatures.  Why should God’s first creations—the heavens and the earth−burn up when Christ comes again?  I like to think that they who served him when he lived on earth will be given the highest places of honor when he comes again.

The Franciscans, in the spirit of their founder, say that Christ won’t destroy the world but will HEAL the world.  Ah.  Come, Lord Jesus.

In what ways have the heavens and earth helped you draw closer to God?

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 B

26 November 2011

Reflecting on Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7, Mark 13:33-37

Do you have a memory of the experience of feeling the presence of God in a moment so electric that it was as if God had “opened the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before him”?  Perhaps it was the birth of your child, or the recovery of a lost love, or a phone call from the exact person you were just thinking about.

We wait for Christ to come again in time, but we long for him to touch us in our own time, our own lives.  Think about those blessed moments of spine-tingling awareness that God is HERE, right now, opening doors that seemed closed, showing a way to reconciliation with those who were estranged, gently leading us through new insights and ancient, rock-solid creeds.

Imagine the servants, struggling to stay awake so they can greet the Master with a nice meal and warm hospitality when he returns.  I think Advent invites us to stay awake every day, to watch every day for the gentle presence of our Master who is already here.

What is your Advent practice of watching for Christ?

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