Monthly Archives: March 2020

Fifth Sunday in Lent – Cycle A

28 March 2020

Reflecting on John 11: 1-45

I suspect that most of you are reading this here on The Story and You website because your parish bulletin was unavailable this week. Welcome! I pray that you are each safe from this scary virus, and that the controls put in place have in fact flattened the curve of infection. May our fast from the Eucharist make us stronger, kinder people, and may we be especially mindful of those most in need of our strength.

It’s been so inspiring to go on to our Next Door Neighbor site and see the hundreds of generous young people offering help to any neighbors who need child care, grocery pick-up, snow shoveling, or just a well-visit at the door. Barbra Streisand is so right. We people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.

Jesus needed people. He needed his disciples. He certainly needed his Mother, and Joseph. And among his friends, it seems that he needed Martha, Mary, and Lazarus most of all. The gospels tell of two significant meals at their house in Bethany. Jesus and his disciples spent a lot of time in that town (including the week before his death). Most compelling of all, though, is that after the death of Lazarus, his sisters sent word to Jesus, saying the one you love has died. And two verses later we learn that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. And, of course, when he wept at the tomb, the onlookers said see how much he loved him.

It warms my heart to imagine Jesus losing control and sobbing at the tomb of Lazarus. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. His weeping for his friend is the surest way for us to know that he is ours.

How are you watching out for loved ones during this challenging time?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Fourth Sunday in Lent – Cycle A

24 March 2020

Reflecting on John 9: 1-41

It’s only in recent times that we have documented cases of adults who have lived their entire lives without sight, and then, through surgery, are able to register “optical phenomena.” Unlike the man born blind in today’s gospel, though, they don’t register what they’re seeing right away. They know there is some kind of invasion of their retinas, but it takes patience and therapy for their brains to learn the codes of color, shape and form. It takes time to learn how to see.

One of the commentaries on this gospel suggests the reader should watch the beautiful 1999 movie, At First Sight, based on the true story of a sighted architect who fell in love with a man who lost his sight as a toddler, then, through her encouragement, had surgery in New York and, to the thrill of everyone who knew him, regained his sight.

The movie is filled with touching insights into the challenges he faced in learning to read his girlfriend’s facial expressions once he could see her. We get the majority of our data about our loved ones from a lifetime of looking at them in sickness and in health, in sadness and in utter joy. At first he couldn’t get enough information from her face to know what she was feeling, so he had to close his eyes so he could see her better.

We have to really feel sorry for all those blind people in today’s gospel. You know, the ones who had sight from birth, and still couldn’t see Jesus.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery).

What are you seeing about yourself this Lent that is improving your vision?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Third Sunday of Lent – Cycle A

14 March 2020

Reflecting on John 4: 5-42

It’s all about water, really. The Hebrews who followed Moses out into the desert thirsted for it, and badgered Moses for it for forty years. That’s some powerful thirst. Twelve hundred years later, another thirst—to be deeply known by another—was met as Jesus conversed with the Woman at the Well. That’s what compelled her to race away, leaving her water jar behind, to tell everyone she could find about this stranger who told her everything she ever did. As St. Paul writes, “Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Cor. 13: 12).

That’s what Jesus gave that unnamed woman. As John Kavanaugh, SJ has written, “He was the Unknown who would know her most deeply.” She had some detours in her life, but her encounter with Jesus transformed her from that isolated woman at the well into the Spirit-filled apostle who fell in love with Love.

And don’t miss this. The Jewish community hearing this story would have nodded their heads and chuckled. Here comes the betrothal, they would say. They’re right. Isaac’s future wife Rebecca meets his marriage broker Eleazar at a well. Jacob meets his future wife Rachel at a well. Moses rescues future wife Zipporah from harassing shepherds at a well. And Jesus betrothes himself to all isolated, lonely, thirsty people when he meets the Samaritan woman at the well.

As Mother Teresa famously noted, the “I thirst” Jesus whispered from the cross must be understood in its true and eternal context: I thirst for you. He thirsts for us still.

You are beloved. You are deeply desired by Jesus. Drink that in.

Whom will you tell about the love of Jesus this week?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Second Sunday of Lent – Cycle A

9 March 2020

Reflecting on Genesis 12: 1-4

Wouldn’t that be the greatest thing, to be promised by God that you and all your descendants would be a blessing? Think of your own family, maybe the one you were born into or the one you’ve created. How has your family blessed your city, or your schools, or the parishes to which they’ve belonged?

I love the idea of doing a DNA search on family blessing. What remote cousin of yours stepped in when someone in his grade school was being bullied? Did your dad coach a team, or lead the Boy Scouts? Do you have any firefighters or police officers? Has anyone served in the military?

Did your sister help with voter registration, or work on election day? Has any family member ever served in office? Closer to home, have you raised kind, compassionate children? That’s the greatest blessing of all.

Do you have any teachers in your family? Medical professionals? Does anyone in your family know how to get blood from a patient painlessly? Those of us who have blood drawn regularly bless you for providing us with that most crucial cog in the medical world, the painless phlebotomist. That is a unique and powerful blessing.

Think back on the people who have provided rich blessings in your life. Maybe it’s the lawyer who helped you with your will. Maybe it’s the plumber who figured out where the leak was coming from.

Blessings travel faster around the globe than any scary pandemic. Like Abram and Sarai, our ancestors left home to find a new home. Some became famous, most toiled every day in difficult circumstances. But their blessings remain, and go forward through us.

In what ways will you be a blessing this Lent?

Kathy McGovern ©2020