Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Cycle A

7 January 2023

Reflecting on Isaiah 60: 1-6

We don’t pay as much attention to that first reading as we should, since there is SO much to talk about in the gospel: the astrologers from some exotic land, the deeply paranoid King Herod, the STAR as cosmic guide, and dear St. Joseph, the strong protector of the Holy Family.

We know that story. We sing that story. But let yourself really sink into Isaiah’s hope-filled prophecy of five hundred years earlier. Have someone read it to you. Read it to someone. Imagine its fulfillment right now, today.

Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. What if our beloved country was such a shining city on a hill that all nations chose a similar path? What if kindness and truth met in our behavior, and justice and peace kissed in every law, and on every street (Ps. 85:10-11)? See it. Resolve to work hard to make it happen.

Your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. What if every estranged son and daughter responded to the grace to humbly and honestly communicate with those whom they’ve decided are “toxic”? What if dangerous, violent, abusive parents responded to the grace to humbly and honestly see their behaviors for what they were (and are), and would seek professional help in order to communicate true and lasting sorrow to those they have hurt?

The riches of the sea shall be poured out before you. Yes! Imagine a healed sea, free of plastics, and brimming with thousands of healthy species of fish. Just think of it! O God, give us wisdom to bring Isaiah’s prophecy to fulfillment. Guide us to Thy perfect Light.

What epiphanies have you had that have led you to a better lifestyle?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

No Comments to “Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – Cycle A

31 December 2022

Reflecting on Luke 2:16-21

“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  I’ve thought about that word a thousand times. It appears that Mary was as shocked at the words the angels sang to the shepherds as they were.

When the shepherds joyously ran the five miles from what is now called Shepherd’s Field to “see this thing which has come to pass,” they found Mary and Joseph and the Child. Then, apparently, they ran into the neighborhoods, shouting the Good News which the angels had proclaimed.

And what did the young Mary do? She kept these things. She treasured these things. She pondered these things. We’ll see that word again twenty verses later when Jesus, now a young man of twelve, Is “found” in the Temple by his frantic parents.

At some unconscious level, they must have known the day would come when their Child would announce the mission of his life. The three returned to Nazareth, and Mary pondered all this in her heart.

To “ponder” means to “throw together.” I think this means that Mary held together the entire Mystery–the Angel Gabriel’s shocking announcement, the surprise pregnancy of her older cousin Elizabeth, the angels filling the skies and singing about the birth of her Son, the visit of the shepherds, the joy with which Anna and Simeon greeted the Child in the Temple, and yes, the prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart.

She held all these things together. Throughout history, the human race has begged her to hold our prayers close to her, now, and at the hour of our death.

Do you think Mary was shocked at the appearance of the angels, and the shepherds?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

No Comments to “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Christmas – Cycle A

24 December 2022

Reflecting on Matthew 1:1-25

There must be thirty distinct characters in the Christmas story, but I find myself drawn to St. Joseph more and more. Does it seem to you that he is everywhere?

More Christian shrines are dedicated to him than any man besides Jesus. I wonder why. He doesn’t speak a single word in scripture. He doesn’t have to. He is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in his dreams, and, like that young Joseph in Egypt 1600 years earlier, he trusts that God is speaking to him through them. That trust saves the Child, and you and me, and will, in the fullness of time, save the world.

St. Joseph the Worker. That’s the image that most of us know. Jesus is called “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55,) and that image has made its way into art of all ages. We see him working with wood, but “carpenter”—tekton—-may also have been someone who works with stone. There weren’t a lot of trees in Nazareth, but there was a large rock quarry just three miles away. Joseph and Jesus may, in fact, have worked on the large Roman city, Sepphoris, very close to Nazareth, a city largely constructed of stone, as were most of the homes in the region.

Interesting, but not at all why we love St. Joseph. We love him because of his quiet strength, his protection of Mary and the Child, his wisdom in discerning how God is acting in his life. We love that, BEFORE Gabriel told him of the virginal conception of Jesus, he had already decided to divorce her quietly, lest she fall prey to the Orthodox readers of Deuteronomy 22: 13-17, and be killed. Love him.

St. Joseph, we need you. Please dream a new world for us this year.

What would you like to ask St. Joseph this Christmas?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “Christmas – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

17 December 2022

Reflecting on Matthew 1: 18-24

I’m confused. Is the child’s name to be Jesus—Yeshua, which means “God saves”— or is it to be Emmanuel, which means God with us? How can this Child have two distinct names? That’s a question that bothers the careful reader of today’s Gospel.

First, though, a fun distinction between how Luke and Matthew handle the Name. Luke, that great lover of Mary, says that SHE is going to name her Son. (1:31). HA! A woman naming her own child? Unheard of.

Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, remembers this scene differently. His narrative of the birth of Jesus is told through the eyes of Joseph. That’s wonderful, since without Matthew’s account we’d know nothing about Joseph at all. And, of course, it is Joseph who shall name the Son. The father names the child, and Joseph will take on the role of the father of this miraculously conceived Child.

And how rich it is, in Matthew, that Jesus will have two names. He will come to save us. But he will also come to be with us. By giving him these two names, Matthew starts healing us right away. We need a savior. We need help in illness and death. We need help with our aging parents. We need a savior for our troubled children. But we need a God who is with us as we face these agonizing trials.

From the start, we know that Jesus will be with us. And at the very end, as Jesus is ascending to heaven, he says, “And lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age (28:20).

A savior? Yes. Who is with us? Oh, yes. O come, O come, Emmanuel.

How do you sense that God is with you?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

10 December 2022

Reflecting on Matthew 11: 2-11

I wonder why Jesus asked the crowd what they were expecting when they went out to the desert to meet John. It sounds like there must have been a lot of murmuring about him. Curious Jews had made the long trek out to the Jordan valley, just north of the Dead Sea, to see this famous preacher. It sounds like they might have been surprised, and disappointed, by the person they encountered.

It’s hard to imagine they might have been expecting “someone dressed in fine clothing.” Surely word had spread about the austere clothing and diet of this fiery preacher. More important, the desert territory where he made his home was long associated with the life of the great prophet Elijah, whose ascetical dress made him easily recognizable (2 Kings 1:8). His memory was still powerful in Israel, and certainly was invoked when people met the Baptist, whose dress, and diet, and locale was identical to him who had lived nearly a thousand years earlier.

He was also certainly not a “reed shaken by the wind.” This guy? He stood up to the Pharisees, and anyone who hoped that rigorous observance of the Law was more important than giving a cloak to the one was cold, and food to the one who was hungry (Luke 3:11). No, this Baptist stood up to Herod Antipas himself, and didn’t back down, even when in chains in Herod’s dungeon. And I’ll bet that when the soldiers came for him the night of Herod’s drunken birthday, his last words were his earlier words with Jesus, “that I may decrease, and he may increase” (John 3: 30).

That’s the man they encountered. That’s the man we encounter today.

Which prophets in your life would you go out to the desert to see?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

3 December 2022

Reflecting on Matthew 3: 1-12

Boy, that John the Baptist could turn a phrase. Can you imagine being some of the Religious Elite of Jerusalem, making the long trip out to the desert to receive a baptism of repentance from the famous Elijah figure, and being greeted with, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”

They might have heard of his austere diet, and his painful clothing of camel’s hair, but why was he choosing to single THEM out for verbal abuse? True, they’d been a little nervous lately about his warnings about good fruit as evidence of redemption, but they never dreamed, until this moment, that their perfect pedigree wasn’t enough to get the Baptist to show some respect.

I think of those Pharisees and Sadducees a lot. I can just see myself, lording it over the worshipers in the synagogue, because I had the good sense to be born in the right part of the world, from the right family, and at the right time in history.

And oh, what a shock to hear the Baptist say, “You! What are you doing out here? Did you finally realize that someone else might have something to teach the world about the One who is to come?’

The answer, gratefully, is YES. There is someone in every house, on every corner, who has life-changing things to teach me about Jesus. And I bless and thank, every day in prayer, those who came before me, radiating the Good News.

The Baptist has come to each of us, through parents, teachers, religious figures, and friends. Blessed be they forever. And blessed be we who recognize that the kingdom of God is at hand.

Who are the people who have drawn you closer to Christ?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

No Comments to “Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

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

No Comments to “First Sunday of Advent – Cycle A”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

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

No Comments to “The Solemnity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

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

No Comments to “Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

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

No Comments to “Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

« Previous PageNext Page »