Monthly Archives: December 2023

The Feast of the Holy Family

31 December 2023

Reflecting on Colossians 3:12-21

I looked and looked for something fun and festive to wear to the many beautiful Christmas services and parties this year. I finally decided to take my fashion advice from St. Paul, of all people! And, you know what? Everything fit perfectly, and I’ve never looked better.

Heartfelt compassion and kindness never go out of style. And they go with everything! They are the perfect accompaniment for those in need of the love of a friend, or the reminder that warmth and true care and affection are right here, through Christ Jesus.

Humility makes the perfect entrance. The person who is concerned for others, who doesn’t care about making a big splash, brings a beautiful glow to every party.

Gentleness and patience fit perfectly in every size. How inspiring it is, for example, on this Feast of the Holy Family, to see parents who treat their children with gentleness, even when the milk is spilled, and nap time is missed. Patience is a virtue that can only be honed through a thousand opportunities to exercise it. It’s so beautiful to see.

Bearing with one another and forgiving one another is just a classic style. Only the very best-dressed know how to pull this off, and it’s because they live lives of intentional goodness and Christ-like action every day.

Over all this, I put on love. Oh, how good that felt. I went out into the cold, wrapped up in the warmth of love, utterly centered on others, seeing each person as Christ, sometimes in the distressing disguise of those who are poor.

I was the best-dressed person in every room, and I intend to wear my new clothes from now on.

Imagine yourself clothed this way. How do you feel?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

The Feast of the Nativity

25 December 2023

Reflecting on Luke 2:15-20

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. Glora in excelsis Deo!

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

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

23 December 2023

Reflecting on Luke 1: 26-38

This Advent I’ve been inviting students to think about this question: With which one of the Advent and Christmas saints do you most resonate? For some, the answer is quick, almost before I can ask the question. ZECHARIAH! said my friend. “What? How can you know so fast? I didn’t even ask the question yet!” “I just know,” she said.

It’s a wonderful meditation. Are you like Joseph, quietly and kindly protecting and providing for your family? Are you like the shepherds, who, after seeing the angels and hearing their tidings of great joy, raced the five miles to Bethlehem to see for themselves the things which had come to pass?

As I read this familiar (and yet still so shocking) gospel account of the Annunciation, I think of my niece, Lauren. St. Luke says that Mary, immediately after her encounter with the Angel Gabriel, set out alone from Galilee to travel ninety dangerous miles to the hill country of Judea in order to be with her aged cousin, Elizabeth, now six months into her pregnancy.

She came to serve her, and stayed three months with her and Zechariah in order to assist her aged cousin with the birth.

I have a niece like this. If I called Lauren at 6am on Christmas Eve and said, “Lauren, I’m having ten people for dinner in twelve hours, and I just can’t do it,” her response would be, “Aunt Kathy, I’m getting in the car right now. It’s ninety miles. I’ll bring breakfast.”

That’s how I picture Mary. Young, beautiful, full of love for her family. I hope you have a “Mary” in  your life. Or is that you?

Meditate on the Advent/Christmas saints. Is there one who especially speaks to you?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

16 December 2023

Reflecting on John 1: 6-8, 19-28

Are you a voice crying in the desert? It’s frustrating to have a message you’d love the world to hear, and you try to shout that message into the world. But all you hear in reply are crude jokes and snide remarks.

Are we just too sophisticated for the gospel, even here in 2023, when the gospel has never been more desperately needed? Or is it just that people don’t read more than the headlines, and they decide from there what their position is?

It must be so heartbreaking to be a great journalist, to labor for a year on a piece that sees the light of day for one news cycle, and to hear the deafening silence of your audience, clicking past your work for the next cat video.

I think about John the Baptist. I wonder if his diet of locusts and wild honey, and his scratchy garment of camel’s hair, was really just to draw people’s attention from whatever diversions they were enjoying and to draw them out to the desert.

I know for sure that the desert, with its stunning landscapes and fascinating insect life, wouldn’t hold my attention if I could somehow get WIFI and cellphone reception.

I’m sure I’d find some flashy desert video to watch instead of actually tasting and breathing the real thing.

John had a message, a truth that he had found, and he was willing to make himself look ridiculous in order to get the attention of those who needed to hear it so badly. He went to Herod’s dungeon because of that Truth. He died for that Truth.

And if you listen very carefully, you can hear him preaching still.

What would you love to shout out to the world?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

Second Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

9 December 2023

Reflecting on Is. 40: 1-5, 9-11

What an image that is. Mountains and hills dissolving into straight, easy paths to walk? Deep valleys raising up so that people of all degrees of mobility can easily pass through them? Isaiah must have had some experience with rugged and unnavigable terrain in order to offer such a delicious image.

He spoke these words of comfort—that geographic boundaries would dissolve so that the Exiles could return to Jerusalem in peace—in order to encourage those who were afraid to set out for home after fifty years of exile in Babylon.

These aren’t words just for a long-ago people. They make perfect sense for us, too. What important life challenge are you afraid to embark on right now? What has the Spirit been nudging you towards? Take Isaiah’s words to heart so that you can achieve that to which you deeply sense you have been called.

Imagine if those Exiles had not been nudged by that beautiful image. There would have been no Second Temple, no restored priesthood, and no descendants of David (Mary and Joseph) to travel to Bethlehem under orders of the Emperor so that the prophecy of Micah might be fulfilled: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will come forth from long ago, from the days of eternity (5:2,3).

Think back on the bold moves you had the grace to make in your life. You stayed up late and finished that term paper when you were aching for sleep. You got married. You had kids. The same God with you then is with you now. Step out, and watch the mountains move.

What grace has God given you in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2023

First Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

2 December 2023

Do you love Advent? I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t. And these days, after reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s exquisite book Learning to Walk in the Dark, I think I know why. After the long days of summer and the fading lights of fall, we’re finally ready to give in to the dark. Advent gives us permission to stay in the dark for four delicious weeks (although this year we only get three weeks and half a day(.

Something there is that doesn’t love the dark, but there is another part of us that craves it. Even the most roaring extrovert is grateful to crawl under the covers and let the night come in, with its healing dreams and restorative quiet.

And it is in the dark, of course, where we keep watch the best. The stars guide sailors to safe ports, and the changing shapes of the moon give expression to our own spiritual shifts, from consolation to desolation and back again.

This Advent I’m trying something new, and my soul is ready for it. I’m going to spend more time in the dark. I’m going to watch the darkness give way to the dimmest violet―an Advent color, by the way―in the early hours of the morning. I’m going to sit in the pitch dark―or at least as dark as our over-lit urban landscape allows―and listen for coyotes and night song.

It was, after all, in the night watch when the angels appeared in the sky, announcing the birth of the Savior and singing their Glorias to highest heaven. Just think: if the shepherds had been huddling in a cave, taking refuge by a lantern, they might have missed the greatest moment in the history of the world.

It’s getting dark. It’s time to go outside.

What sacred memories do you have of meeting God in the dark?

Kathy McGovern ©2023