Monthly Archives: December 2021

Christmas Day and Feast of the Holy Family – Cycle C

26 December 2021

Reflecting on Luke 2: 41-52

Ah, the shepherds. What a perfect group to experience this huge “GOD EVENT.” Abraham was a shepherd (Gen. 13),  Moses was a shepherd (Ex. 3;1), David was a shepherd (I Sm. 17), and God, of course, is a shepherd, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1). How perfect that it was shepherds who were the first to receive the tidings of great joy. They raced to Bethlehem to greet the Child who would be the Great Shepherd, the one who would leave heaven itself to come in search of us.

I have a theory about those angels. I don’t think they came from heaven just for that one blessed night. I think that God posted them there, right there in Shepherd’s Field, at the beginning of time. I think they were there when God created the heavens and the earth. And, since heaven is not confined by time and space, it may have been just a blink of an eye before the time came for them to reveal themselves.

I hear those angels sometimes, because I know they’re hanging out in my neighborhood too. I hear them bursting into Glorias whenever anyone does anything to help bring peace on earth. When, as the Eucharistic Prayer of Reconciliation says so beautifully, “enemies begin to speak to one another, and those who were estranged join hands in friendship,” I think I hear them, shouting Glorias in the highest.

Here’s an easy way to hear them, and this is the perfect season. Lay down your estrangements, and your righteous certitudes. Let peace flow like a river. Now that your heart is wide open, unstop your ears and listen. Ah, yes. Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Dear readers, I pray for every blessing, every healing in your life. You are always in my heart.

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

18 December 2021

Reflecting on Luke 1: 39-45

Two silent, unborn children. One, newly conceived, has just made the ninety-mile journey within his mother’s womb to the hill country of Judea. The other, conceived to the shock and awe of the neighbors (and to his father, struck mute for the duration of the pregnancy), is now six months old in the womb of his aged mother, Elizabeth.

Mary arrives at Ein Karem. How will she ever express what she is experiencing? Will she be as wordless as Zechariah in the midst of The Mystery? It turns out the infant in Elizabeth’s womb does the talking for her. He—the pre-born child—is the first to announce the gospel, the first to recognize the Christ. He leaps, and then Elizabeth announces what her child already knows. Blessed is she who believed that the promise of the Lord would be fulfilled.

Mary and Joseph trusted. Elizabeth and Zechariah trusted. But it was God who first trusted, who created humankind, who gave us every beautiful thing, and then, in the greatest act of trust, gave us God’s own Son.

The author Elizabeth Stone wrote, “The decision to have a child…is to decide forever to have your heart go around outside your body.” In sending the Son, the Father decided to have his heart, forever after, go around outside his body.

That’s us. We are that heart, walking around outside the body of the Creator, destined to return to God. My favorite theologian, John Kavanaugh, SJ, wrote, “Mary believed the promise of God and, in doing so, gave birth to the promise.”

We who believe the promise must give birth to the promise. We are God’s heart, walking around. Glory to God in the highest.

How are you giving birth to the promise in the actions of your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

11 December 2021

Reflecting on Luke 3: 10-18

My brother —a chronic loser of keys, coats, cars—has a great vision of how heaven will work for him. Upon arrival, St. Peter will take him to a long series of lockers. Looking down his Big Chief tablet, St. Peter will say, “Ah. Here you go.” Finding the combination for the padlock, he will open his locker, and there—hallelujah!—will come tumbling out every bus pass, gym shirt, ignition key, and bike lock whose infuriating absence made his life such a challenge.

That’s his heaven—not only the restoration of every lost item, but a map to show him exactly WHERE he lost it, so he can check that aggravation off his list.

Now, John the Baptist, whom I suspect had the inside track of how heaven actually works, might have envisioned that same scenario differently. When we arrive in heaven, it’s John who meets us, and he knows exactly where our locker is. “Ah, Kathy,” he’ll say, sadly shaking his head. “Here it is.” And out will fall the hundreds of extra coats, extra groceries, extra-long showers, and extra free time, that I squandered.

Then, CLACK, I’ll hear the gates of heaven closing to me, not to open again until I haul all my stuff out and find the people around the world who could have made much better use of it than I did. And with every loosening of my grip, I’ll notice myself feeling lighter, happier, until heaven reaches down to take me.

Oh, so THAT’S how it works! I’ll say. I forgot St. Luke’s most important point! Heaven is for the unencumbered! That makes it so much easier when you’re floating home to God.

What might be weighing you down as you grow closer to heaven?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

4 December 2021

Reflecting on Luke 3: 1-6

Let’s all go to the Holy Land sometime. It will make today’s Gospel jump off the page and into our hearts. We’ll visit the home where John the Baptist was born to Elizabeth and Zechariah. We know about his miraculous conception, and about his mother’s kinship with Mary, the mother of Jesus, from the first chapter of Luke.

But then will come the question that no historian has been able to truly answer. How did John, whom Luke (and we, his readers) knows to be the cousin of Jesus, end up in the desert, ragged and relentless, proclaiming a gospel of repentance? St. Luke (the historian) likens his ministry to that unnamed desert- voice from Isaiah, crying out for us to prepare the way of the Lord.

The most convincing suggestion is that John had some connection with the Essenes, a desert community that was well know at the time of Christ. They, like John, lived humbly, and disdained the allures of city life (and the rulers of those cities). John would eventually come to the attention of one of those rulers, Herod Antipas, whom he condemned for his unethical and illegal marriage practice. We all know how that terrible story ended.

Or did it? Because I feel like I hear him, when I read stories of teenagers with access to AK-47s, or the one million pre-born children legally aborted in this country every year, or the lack of COVID-19 vaccines for the developing world, or the greed that animates so many of the global catastrophes every year.

I can hear him now, calling out for my own repentance. LISTEN! he thunders. YOU! Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

To what baptism of repentance do you feel yourself called?

Kathy McGovern ©2021