Monthly Archives: January 2021

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

30 January 2021

Reflecting on Mark 1: 21-28

I am a very well-connected person. I’m connected to many of my friends from grade school, and a lot of the friends I’ve made since then. I’m connected through unbreakable threads to my parents, and their parents, all the way back to our First Parents. I’m connected to all of my family members with bonds so dear that, I’ve learned recently, when one of those members goes home to God it makes the remaining members cling to those bonds even more tightly.

Jesus understands about connections. He’s the Vine, and we’re the branches. Everything he did on earth, and what he does every minute in heaven, is to strengthen those connections between himself and us.

Through the sacraments, through scripture, through his position in the Trinity as the One in whose Name all prayer is addressed, Jesus is our connection. And sin is the destroyer of connection.

That’s why when the unclean spirits—so feverishly at work breaking the connections between their victim and God— saw him coming, they were terrified, and cried out Have you come to destroy us? The answer to that is YES. Always, YES. Thank God.

Most of the time, the “unclean spirits” of pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth go unchecked in our lives until at least one of these seven deadly sins becomes our undoing. That’s the thing about sin. It finds its mark every time, and its target is our happiness, our peace, our serenity, our connections.

That’s not the last word, of course. Jesus wants to restore us completely. It turns out that, as much as we long to be connected to him, he longs to be connected with us infinitely more.

Are you ready for Jesus to call out your demons?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

23 January 2021

Reflecting on Jonah 3: 1-5, 10

I’m willing to be proved wrong about this. I’m willing to look naïve and unsophisticated. Here it is: I believe the guy who says that storming the Capitol on January 6th was the biggest mistake of his life, and the other guy who said he deeply regretted that his actions brought shame to him and to his family.

I believe them, even though, now arrested and having lost jobs and health insurance, contrition is the best lifeline available. I believe them because I have looked at my own past behaviors and been remorseful and embarrassed.  

That Assyrian capital city is the ultimate inspiration for taking stock of our sins and repenting of them. Nineveh was the Las Vegas of its day. Corruption and vile behavior oozed through its pores. And THIS was the city God instructed Jonah to lecture to and convert!

But here’s the jaw-dropping part: they listened to him. They honestly and objectively looked at their sins. They “believed God.” How on earth did a nation that had never heard of the One True God simply turn from their sins, proclaim a fast, cover themselves in sackcloth and ashes, and then experience the mercy of God?

What would it take for us, addicted to our online platforms, radio and tv news stations whose algorhythms are all primed to send us more of what we already believe, to step back and look at the sin in our own lives? I know, it’s way more delicious to marinate in the sins of others. But by doing that we lose the ability to humbly listen.

O Master, grant that ALL OF US may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand.

How will I dismantle my own assertions so that I can humbly listen?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B

16 January 2021

Reflecting on John 1: 35-42

How do parents finally decide what to name the baby? There are so many things to take into consideration: family names, honoring a beloved grandparent, favorite contemporary names, or unique names that will make a child stand out. Some parents name their children with strong names that mean things in the original language—like Sophia, which means wisdom.

Two of my friends just brought their babies home and looked at them for a few days. After hours and hours of gazing, they arrived on beautiful names which, today, we can’t imagine belonging to anyone else.

But the best way to choose a name is to have Jesus choose it for you. Simon had always been Simon until Jesus said, “From now on your name will be Cephas.” That translates as Peter, or Petra, which means rock. How must that new name have strengthened and inspired Peter? In time, the infant, shaky Church would be built on the rock of Peter’s faith. Names shape us.

If Jesus, who knows your inmost heart, had named you, what would you have been called throughout your life? I love thinking of my friends having the names which describe them well: Helpful One, Strong One, Gifted One, Gracious One.

What name do you want Jesus to call you when you see him face to face? How about Just One, or Compassionate One, or Reconciling One? I know what I dread hearing him call me: Greedy One, or Lazy One, or Wasteful One.

Maybe we should take a few weeks to decide what name we most want to be called by Jesus, and then ask for the grace to grow into it. I choose Forgiven One.

By what name do you want Jesus to call you?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – Cycle B

10 January 2021

Reflecting on Mark 1:7-11

Sometimes I find a word that seems to follow me around until I pay attention to it.  For many years now that word for me has been “yield”.

Yield.  It’s a word so full of grace that we need to just lean into it, just rest with it and let its mysterious comfort seep into us.  What would it be like if we allowed ourselves to yield in our family relationships and, mercifully, allowed each of our flawed siblings and parents and children to just be themselves?  The truth is, in a thousand ways unknown to us they have yielded in their desire to change us over the years too.

Jesus began his public ministry not by teaching or healing, but by yielding.  He yielded to the chilly waters of the Jordan, though before the beginning of time he shaped the mountains whose snows would feed that river.  He yielded to time and place and asked John to baptize him, though John was astonished that the sinless One would allow such an irony.

John had to yield too.  He would have much preferred to be baptized by Jesus, but he “allowed” it, he yielded to it, because Jesus asked him to.  He immediately received the graces from yielding, because then he witnessed the heavens opening and the announcement of Jesus as the Beloved Son of God. 

Is there a chronic sadness or dis-ease in your life because you keep going over and over the mistakes you’ve made, or the injustices you’ve experienced, long ago?  Aren’t you tired yet? Try giving up the struggle.  Yield.  And then let peace flow like a river.

Have you experienced a recent grace from “yielding”?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Solemnity of the Epiphany

2 January 2021

Reflecting on Matthew 2:1-12

I’ve been thinking about the Three Kings quite a bit lately. They represent all of us, of course. We are the ones who have searched the skies, and the scriptures, and the Tradition of the Church, and the wisdom of all of our friends. Like the Magi, we have traveled extensively in our spiritual lives, from the certitudes of childhood to the hard-won adult faiths we bring to the manger today.

I feel sorry for the famous women of history who never had the chance to hear this story. I think of Nefertari, the wife of Ramses II. Every day of her life as Queen of Egypt she was lavishly waited on by her Hebrew slaves. Think of her, 1300 years later, having the chance to see the Star of Bethlehem, and leaving everything behind to find Him.

And the beautiful Queen Esther! She saved the life of every Jewish person in the entire Persian kingdom when she stood up to her husband King Ahasuerus as he was preparing the gallows for his Jewish subjects. Yes! You KNOW she would have the courage and the wisdom to find that Star in the heavens hundreds of years later, and travel from the East in search of Him.

And, oh yes, Cleopatra! She was a fierce military strategist, and probably spoke ten languages. She was certainly brilliant enough to follow if the Star beckoned her too. If she had had the chance, I’ll bet she would have led the barge.

Hmm. Maybe we should sing We Three Queens some Epiphany, because as blessed as those kings were, the great queens of antiquity would have searched for him too.

From where has Jesus called you?

Kathy McGovern ©2020