Category Archives: Brother Mickey McGrath

Unwilling Willingness – An Advent Reflection

church_bazaar_christmas_fair_or_christian_event_flyer-p244107641514716651b73co_400God is with us.

God is with us.

God is with us.

It doesn’t always feel like God-is-with-us, does it? Especially now. Typically we might find ourselves on December 18th, pretty deeply into the “are-we-there-yet?” stage. You know, that feeling where we find our “it’s-almost-Christmas” glee crisscrossing with high anxiety over all the things yet unaccomplished as we race towards December 25.

Anxiety or glee – neither one is especially rooted in our Advent journey of holy waiting, but both are very common things to feel. I don’t know about you, but I am in a state of mind and heart that says, “can-we-leave-now?” rather than “are-we-there-yet?” And the “God-is-with-us” matter might be harder than usual to grasp. This makes me wonder if perhaps “are-we-there-yet?” and “can-we-leave-now?” are the wrong questions to ask.

We might find ourselves wanting to ask Continue reading



Filed under Advent, Advent 2012, Advent Reflections, Brother Mickey McGrath

Advent Reflection December 11, 2012 – Lost Sheep

This is a modified version of a reflection that I offered at Advent Evening Prayer at St. Edward the Confessor, in Clifton Park, NY.

Today’s Gospel:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”
-Matthew 18:12-14

Contemporary Catholic artist, Brother Mickey McGrath, has been posting daily “Advent calendar” updates on his Facebook page. His message for each day has to do with the daily reading. Today’s message was, “Give comfort to God’s people.” The image that he created was a joyful Jesus and a joyful sheep sheep – the image made me think that they were jumping for joy.

Between seeing this, and then considering something else that I read earlier this morning, I got to thinking… how many of us would just cut our losses and forget that one lost sheep? How often do we “write off” others with relative ease? The visual reminder of Jesus and that sheep reminded me that everyone counts, every person matters.

This past weekend I spent time with some friends who believe that they have been marginalized by the organized church. Frankly, I am not always sure that the church is purposely trying to marginalize my friends – but like so many family conflicts – and let’s face it, this is a family conflict, things happen and suddenly the sheep are not so much lost, as they are rejected. Or at least feeling that way. In this case, it is more than just feeling that way, if you ask me. Unyielding rigid ideology, often served up with the best of intentions, but without love, and things go poorly. Very. Poorly. That one sheep feels cut off and is lost.

Would you go look for the lost sheep? Or invite it in from the margins? Or do you recall what it feels like to be cut off, left out and rejected? It feels like you are… lost.

black_sheep_of_the_family1bAlthough we are about to celebrate the most unlikely of all things come December 25, a time when we remember that God came to take human form, a most remarkable thing! We are called to remember that Jesus, while fully human is also fully divine. And as such he goes far beyond what mere mortals we can do. While we might say things like, “that sheep left of its own accord,” or “the sheep did not follow the rules, we had to walk away,” or “seriously – what’s one little sheep?” Time to cut our losses and move on, right? Or, maybe God is not content with that. No – every sheep and every life matters.

When I think of all the people that I know who feel rejected or marginalized by the Church, I think of this Gospel. When I think of all the people who feel rejected by family, friends or others – I think of this Gospel. When I think of times that I myself have felt abandoned – or worse yet, the times when I have done the abandoning, I think of this Gospel.

Jesus does what God means for us to do. Find that lost sheep! And if we are the lost sheep, we must be found by one who seeks us with determination and love – not just a dry book of rules about why we made ourselves lost. If God became one of us, if God pursues us so ardently, how can that same God be willing to push us aside with a seemingly cruel and cavalier hand? How can that be the same God who leaves the 99 sheep, to go find the one sheep that is lost?

This God makes a demand upon us to be sure – to press past our differences, and live in communion in Christ, through reconciliation, filled with forgiveness and hope – and justice. Without justice, the whole thing falls apart. And justice is at the heart of God’s invitation is about. Like a shepherd chasing, and ultimately finding that one pesky little sheep, we must lean hard into the wind of our discontent. When we are the lost ones, we must push back into knowing that we will be found, loved, embraced and restored completely in justice and wholeness, by our God-with-us, our Emmanuel.

God does not cut God’s losses and move on, and neither should we. May this day remind us, as Brother Mickey’s art informs us, to “give comfort to God’s people.” Translation: don’t chase them out of the sheepfold. And as today’s Gospel clearly states in the words of Jesus, “it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” If that is God’s will, then what else can we do but follow?

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Filed under Advent, Advent 2011, Brother Mickey McGrath

Light and beauty – book reviews and contest!

Saved by Beauty and This Little Light – the November book review and book giveaway series continues!

I’ll begin this review of two books with the end in mind… If you are making a list so that someone may check it twice, I suggest that you ask for both books. Seriously – ask for both books! You will not regret this, even if it feels a bit over the top. Let me tell you why…

There will be pure joy upon giving and receiving such things, there will be no standing in long lines to return things that you don’t want, and no suffering the potential shame of re-gifting the wrong gift to the wrong person. Go ahead, attach this review to your wish list! And if you are looking for gifts for someone else, try using this as your shopping list. (Book giveway contest info at the end of the post, along with info about upcoming appearances by Brother Mickey!)

Today I Continue reading


Filed under Albany Times Union, Book Reviews, Brother Mickey McGrath, Catholicism, Dominican Retreat and Conference Center, Dorothy Day, Thea Bowman

A Month of Books…

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Lots of book reviews coming up.

From the “so-many-books-so-little-time” files, I have lots to show you in November – well, starting on October 31, to be precise. Expect to see some book reviews in coming days. I have been reading and reading and reading… and there are other books in the queue! By time the November book-fest is over, you will know what to ask for for Christmas, and what to give!

From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart: Rekindling my Love for Catholicism by Chris Haw.

Loving Work by Mike Hayes.

A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy by Sarah A. Reinhard.

Saved by Beauty: A Spiritual Journey with Dorothy Day by Michael O’Neill McGrath.

This Little Light: Lessons in Living from Sister Thea Bowman by Michael O’Neill McGrath.

I Wasn’t Dead When I Wrote This: Advice Given in the Nick of Time by Lisa-Marie Calderone-Stewart.

My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell.

And while I can’t review a book that I contributed to, I’ll say – please don’t forget to check out Hungry and You Fed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C, featuring James Martin SJ and Richard Rohr OFM, featuring cover art by Michael O’Neill McGrath. (I wrote about it the other day)


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Filed under Book Reviews, Brother Mickey McGrath, James Martin

Ascension Reflection

Today we have two reflections for Ascension. This one by me, and one from Don Wilson, here.
Ascension Thursday is 40 days after Easter.

As we know, Easter is when Jesus rose from the dead. He stayed with his disciples for 40 days, 40 always being a number to pay attention to. The Jews wandered in the desert with Moses for 40 years. Jesus went into the desert, prior to being crucified, for 40 days. Now another 40 days has passed and Jesus must go to the Father. 40 days always reminds us to remember who we are and where we came from, 40 days means to go forward in confidence, that no matter what, God is always with us – as Jesus has promised before He ascended.

He promises to always be with us, but Continue reading

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Filed under Ascension, Brother Mickey McGrath, Fear, Saint Francis de Sales