Monthly Archives: January 2024

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

28 January 2024

Reflecting on Deuteronomy 18:15-20

We’ve had so many nudgings lately to hear God’s call, to carefully discern where God is leading us, but always the question remains: how? The only answer I have to this is to lean in to what makes you truly happy. Chances are that God, who desires only our happiness, has put into our hearts the very desires for which we long.

For example, my friend Ann has the most unbelievable energy and passion for helping migrant families. It’s bitter cold these days, and she is out there, getting coats and gloves and warm winter clothes to migrants coming in from warm climates. She’s not alone, of course. I could name at least two dozen friends whose passion for this work takes up much of their time. They seem really happy to me.

In that first reading from Deuteronomy we hear that, in the desert, the Israelites begged God not to speak to them! They didn’t want the dreaded voice of God! They asked that God speak to them through a prophet like their friend Moses. Isn’t that so often the way we discern the direction of our lives? It’s through the inspiration and modeling of the people we know, and like, and with whom we come in contact.

So many  memoirs are filled with the authors’ experiences of being shaped and changed by the great people in their lives. The opposite is also true. I know great teachers and leaders who answered the call to service because they saw it done so poorly by others, and knew they could do it better.

So, if today you hear God’s voice, don’t harden your heart. Chances are God’s voice is very near to you.

What people have served as the voice of God in your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

21 January 2024

Reflecting on Mark 1:14-20

It’s that first sentence in today’s gospel, our first entry from Mark in Ordinary Time this year, that give me chills: After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God.

Similar sentences have read, “After the four North American churchwomen were murdered in El Salvador, the next plane brought their replacements from Maryknoll.”

Or, “After the first wave of volunteers were taken away in exhaustion, a second wave of volunteers from around the world took their place, digging for the missing who were swept up in the tsunami.”

Jesus knew that his hidden life had come to an end. The great prophet John the Baptist, after speaking truth to power, was thrown into Herod’s dungeon. What fate would await him? Jesus didn’t wait to find out. He immediately stepped into John’s role, and began to proclaim the gospel.

“The time has come,” Jesus said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

The martyrdom of John was a shocking event for all who had been baptized by him, for John’s disciples, and for Jesus. Now it was clear: Jesus would also die at the hands of powerful men, who would misunderstand him, and what he wanted to give them. Jesus now knows how very dangerous these men are, and his response is to preach the gospel anyway.

I know people like that, many of them. I know courageous women and men who have risked, and lost, jobs they loved, in order to simply do the right thing. It shouldn’t be like this. We should ALL desire that the right thing prevail, even—especially—those with something to lose should that come to pass.

What examples of right overcoming might have you seen in your lifetime?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

14 January 2024

Reflecting on John 1:35-42

Every once in a while the gospels inadvertently let a bit of history seep into the narrative. Today we get that interesting background into the ministry of John the Baptist, that he had disciples himself before the public ministry of Jesus.

One of those disciples, who must have been in John’s inner circle in order to have been close enough to hear John say, about Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” was no less than Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter.

So, we know that Andrew was a seeker. He traveled with John the Baptist, and had certainly heard many fiery sermons from John. But at the very moment that John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, Andrew and the other (unnamed) disciple left John and followed Jesus.

In fact, Andrew went straight to his brother and announced that they had found the long-awaited Messiah. He brought Simon to Jesus, who then did what Rabbis did for their most prominent disciples. He changed his name to Cephas (Petra, which means “rock”).

The history of the Church can be written from what follows in this short account towards the beginning of John’s gospel. Andrew and the other disciple seem to understand that John is bidding them goodbye. Their time with him is over, because the “Lamb of God” has been identified, and it is their destiny to follow him.

Simon, too, comes with his brother to see where Jesus is staying. He, too, must have been a seeker. Upon meeting his Lord, he submits to having his very name changed, never realizing that it will be his faith that will be the “rock” upon which the Church will be founded.

What split-second decisions have you made that changed your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2024

Solemnity of the Epiphany – Cycle B

7 January 2024

Reflecting on Matthew 2:1-12

The more the years go by, the more this story calls to me. There’s something almost  hauntingly familiar about it: the beautiful, blazing STAR, the wise astrologers watching the skies. When I see the Christmas cards with the three large visitors on the camels, purposely headed for Bethlehem, bearing their iconic gifts, I get a shiver. I feel like I’m on one of the camels, leaving everything behind because my future has always been with the One lying in a bed of straw, somewhere very near.

Last week I asked the question, “Who are YOU in the story?” I received several fascinating replies. One friend said she is the sand under the feet of the shepherds as they hastened to Bethlehem, supporting them, bearing silent witness to their mission. Another friend said he is the donkey, carrying Mary and the Child, always willing to be of service in any way.

My friend Alice Camille, author and scripture scholar, said that she longs to be the Magi, taking four years off to seek for Jesus, to take whatever roads lead to him, to find him and offer her whole life and heart as her gift. She longs for that, yes, but she knows that, at this point in her life, she’s still the STAR, guiding others to Jesus while she longs to take a huge swathe of her life to seek him herself.

That’s what’s so compelling about the Epiphany. How could these wise foreigners, who had NEVER heard of Moses or of any promised Messiah, have left everything to follow that STAR for two years? They carried gifts, but the greatest gift was their lives. Yes, that’s it. That’s why this STORY calls to me.

In what ways does this STORY call to you?

Kathy McGovern ©2024