Christmas – Cycle B

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

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

Feast of the Holy Family – Cycle B

27 December 2020

Reflecting on Colossians 3: 12-17

Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas this year? Because I’m sure I saw some more presents for you, hidden under the tree and tucked away in secret places where you can find them at just the perfect time.

Here’s one addressed to you from “Heartfelt Compassion.” This present will open itself for you. You’ll feel your heart break open as you feel “with passion” the daily struggle of a relative whose addiction has already strained the bonds of love in your family. It’s okay. Feel that tenderness and love for your broken relative once again. It’s Christmas for them too, with all its promises of “God with us.”

This next gift goes with it, so open up “Kindness” too. This is SUCH a perfect gift for you because it will keep surprising you all year long. Watch for that thoughtful stranger who says, “I can see that you’re in a hurry and have just a few things to buy. Jump ahead of me.”  It will show up in the surprise letter of gratitude from an old friend, or the sweet gift of taking out the trash which your spouse does every single day without saying a word. 

Or maybe it will be your adult child someday, who calls and says, “Remember how hard I fought to get you to let me hang out with my friends when I was fourteen? I’ve never thanked you for holding your ground and keeping me safe.”

There are lots more presents, and they all have your name on them. They are from Emanuel, who promises to be with you in every struggle and every joy in the coming year.

What is your favorite memory of knowing God’s presence with you?

Kathy McGovern ©2020


25 December 2020


At this point, we all know the drill.

Stay away. Keep your distance. Wait this out.

But God knows our tensions, our anxieties,

Our weakened immune systems.

God did not stay away

Nor keep a safe distance

Nor wait for a more receptive world to greet Him.

He came in the time of Occupation

And disease

And famine

And war.

“God with Us”

Even in our isolation

And masks

And worrisome coughs.

MARANATHA, Come Lord Jesus

And pitch Your tent with every grieving child

Every feverish grandparent

Every lonely person looking for Your face.

Comfort, give Comfort

To Your people, oh God.

And speak tenderly to us

That this year of misery has ended,

And we are found in your grace.


The Epiphany of the Lord – Cycle B

6 January 2018

Reflecting on Matthew 2:1-12

Here’s that beautiful story again. You know the one. Three immigrants, following a Star, cross unnamed borders, have an interview with a Crazy King, joyfully reconnect with the Star in Bethlehem, and make their presence (presents) known to Mary and Joseph.

They could have succumbed to Herod’s flattery. They could have sent a message to the palace, saying, “Oh yes, great and wise king, your humble servants have been the first to locate the King of the Jews! We’ll return for our finder’s fee, and perhaps a place of honor in your cabinet.”

But they were too prayerful, too intuitive, too full of wonder to do anything so risky to The Child. They had, after all, seen his star rise a full two years earlier. They left all the comforts of language, food and citizenship in order to find the One whose star drew them away from what they knew into the endless depths of what can never be fully known.

And so they entered the house over which the Star hovered, and nothing has ever been the same. And when it came to them in a dream not to return to Herod, they paid attention to that dream and went home another way.

If even one of them had defected and said, “This is my time to get rich and famous and I’m selling this scoop to the tabloids,” he could have made a run for Jerusalem and made Herod a very happy man. The soldiers would have intercepted the Holy Family before they ever left Bethlehem.

But not one of the Magi desired anything but to find him for whom his heart longed. Very wise men, indeed.

In what ways has following the path of righteousness given you a deep joy?

Kathy McGovern ©2018


The Holy Family – Cycle B

2 January 2018

How did you and your relatives get along this Christmas? If you were a little relieved to get back to your own house and your own bed, it might be instructive to consider on this Feast of the Holy Family that no family in first-century Palestine lived on their own in a separate dwelling. For purposes of safety and resources and tribal connections, everyone lived in multi-generational family homes.

Um-hmm. So, there was no happy waving from the car as families took their leave until getting together again during summer vacation.  After festive dinners everyone retreated―well, nowhere. There was no place to go, and those who had the least private space were considered the most blessed, because that meant they had the most family members.

It seems to me that kids today grow up supporting and encouraging each other instead of competing for mom and dad’s limited attention. The teenagers I know are proud of their siblings and consider them their best friends. A friend of mine says she can’t figure out why her kids love spending so much time together. At their ages, she and her sister had stopped speaking, and all the years haven’t changed that.

I was recently with a 23-year-old brother whose 25-year-old sister had just had her first baby. He couldn’t stop showing me pictures on his phone. At least half of the pictures are of the new baby with her adoring young uncles and aunts, who have loved their sister passionately all their lives, and now are thrilled to love their new niece within an inch of her life.

There are holy families all around us. It’s never too late to have one yourself.

How will you consciously act to forge stronger bonds with your family?

Kathy McGovern ©2017


The Nativity of the Lord – Cycle B

24 December 2017

Reflecting on Luke 1 and 2

There are so many things I long for each of you this Christmas. Here are a few:

I want you to be visited by an angel. I want you to know that you have found favor with God. I want you to feel so strengthened and empowered by God’s nearness that you could walk the same ninety miles that Mary walked, just to tell someone you love that God has broken through.

I want you, like the shepherds keeping watch that night, to have moments of wonder. I hope that you are astonished by God’s power to heal, to console, to bring life from death, and yes, to set hosts of angels in the sky who have probably been standing watch there from the beginning of time, waiting for you to notice their song.

I want you, like Mary, to hold closely in your heart every moment when God did something astonishing and bewildering and soul-soaring. And especially when those moments come to you through encounters with people who don’t look or live like you, remember how smelly and rough those shepherds must have seemed to the Holy Family. I want you, like St. Joseph, to love the people you love so faithfully and fiercely that they know one thing for sure, that you are their safe place to land even when everything and everyone is against them.

I want you, like the Child Jesus, to be brave if you are placed in unfamiliar and frightening situations this year. In the beginning was the Light. It shines in the darkness. And that darkness shall never overcome you.

How will you, like Mary, let God astonish you?


Kathy McGovern ©2017

The Baptism of the Lord – Cycle B

10 January 2015

Reflecting on Mark 1: 7-11

I imagine that some things take us close to the bliss of heaven. A good book and a blazing fire on a cold night have got to be a glimpse of heaven. Plunging yourself into the Jordan River for the repentance of sins you will never commit is another encounter with the Divine.

Huh? Well, isn’t that just how it happened? Jesus, the Sinless One, allowed himself to be baptized by John, for repentance of sin. In so humbling himself and taking on our human form completely, Jesus came out of the water and straight into the Beatific Vision.  He saw the heavens open and the Spirit descend upon him. And he heard the Father’s voice claiming him as the Beloved Son. A glimpse of heaven, indeed.

Sometimes, when the sun is shining and I’m out on the porch with a book, I’m pretty sure that heaven and earth have touched. But my husband, who visited India recently, reports that he saw heaven and earth meet when a dying woman in the street reached out to take the bread he offered her. She looked him in the eye and found his heart, longing to be met.

He has never witnessed the misery of others so keenly. He has never experienced the nearness of God so profoundly. In that moment, the heavens opened, the Spirit descended, and he heard a voice say, “This is my beloved daughter. Hold her gaze.”

Every day we have the chance to split the veil that seems to divide heaven and earth. Often it’s our communion with another that brings the Spirit hovering, and God’s voice in our hearts naming us as beloved.

When have you experienced the meeting of heaven and earth?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

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