29th Sunday Ordinary Time – Fr. Smith Homily

My first meeting with community organizers was memorable. A group of Catholic pastors in Bed-Stuy recognized that many of our parishioners were being displaced by real estate predators and that we wanted to combat this. When I entered the meeting room the lead organizer, who has since become a mentor and friend, looked at me and said, “Here comes the problem.”

I was taken aback but he explained that he did not mean this personally, but that I was of the ‘60s generation which tends to be anti-institutional. He told us immediately that we would help our parishioners keep their homes only by using and strengthening institutions and if we were not prepared to do that our time could be better spent helping them move their furniture on to the street.

Today’s gospel and Pope Francis’ new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” have shown me again the wisdom of these words.

First the Gospel. Jesus is being set up and he knows it. Taxes are always a vexing question and even more so in an occupied territory where they are paid to an oppressor. If Jesus says don’t pay them, he would be arrested; if he says pay them, he will seem to be a collaborator. We admire the shrewdness by which he avoids the trap, but isn’t it stating a misconception: doesn’t everything belong to God?

The answer, of course, is yes, but God expects us to live together and thus encourages institutions which promote security and the equitable distribution of goods. This will vary from age to age, but it is a necessary part of human living, even something as flawed as the Roman empire.

Pope Francis reminds us of this in the encyclical. Every person and society must seek the common good, but that can be obtained in many ways by many systems of thought. There are many roads to the same end, yet he is very clear that all will require the development and sustenance of strong institutions. These extend from the family through voluntary organizations like churches and local societies to the entire range of civil agencies This is organized by politics.

Francis is quite aware that politics is for most of us distasteful and acknowledges the corruption and inefficiency of many politicians. Yet he is insistent that, and I quote, politics is “a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good”.

We need to take common good rather literally. There are some people who believe that politics exists to only to enhance the economy. Indeed, for some a country can be judged by its gross national product alone. This is certainly a part of any successful society, but it must serve the common good. Vast inequalities of income and wealth inevitably weaken a community. If a sizable proportion of the population realizes that no matter how hard they work, they will never really be able to change their situation. While others have few impediments before them it is difficult to develop meaningful patriotism. This is usually compounded with the reality that while some people live like kings, others scrounge in garbage cans for food. Massive inequality has teeth.

Politics for Francis is the art and science through which our neighbor does not find himself in poverty. Sometimes this can be handled by a family, sometimes by a church, but it usually requires a more robust civil component. Francis writes: “private life cannot exist unless it is protected by public order. A domestic hearth has no real warmth unless it is safeguarded by law”.

This quote continues for a while and it is included with some excerpts from “Fratelli Tutti” on the website. They are well worth reading.

This is all a matter of love and he gives a wonderful example of two kinds of love. He  expresses this so well and with such warmth that I will quote it in full:

It is an act of charity to assist someone suffering, but it is also an act of charity, even if we do not know that person, to work to change the social conditions that caused his or her suffering. If someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity. While one person can help another by providing something to eat, the politician creates a job for that other person, and thus practices a lofty form of charity that ennobles his or her political activity.

 Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti (186)

Note how Francis clearly identifies the person who puts this all together as the Politician. He reminds us that the politician will be successful only to the extent that he or she is motivated by love. Francis is in no way naïve in this matter. Indeed, his comments on practical politics are disturbingly realistic. The last paragraph of the selections provided on the web site is particularly poignant and should be read by all of us before we vote this or any year.

Francis sees the politician, admittedly used very broadly, as the person who is responsible for coordinating all the elements which go into a successful country. There will always be the temptation to mechanically apply the principles of one’s favorite ideology to the world without thought or love. His holiness is particularly concerned about this as it puts human beings of flesh and blood in the straitjacket of mere thoughts and ideas. A politician is called to apply his or her whole being to real life. He calls this political love, difficult to obtain and more difficult to maintain.  Yet do we pray for them and do we pray that people will take up politics as more than a potentially lucrative career?

My own experience of this is rather personal. During my mother’s last illness, we would pray together and I, loyal priest that I am, would always include a prayer for priestly vocations. My mom would add a prayer for vocations to the political life.

This was amazing because she was usually, at best, disrespectful of authority. I think at the end of her long life, a good deal of it spent causing trouble, she knew what was lacking in the society and knew what was needed to build it up: young people willing to participate in the give and take of civil life.

We are all now Caesar, with the power to determine who will act for us. Can we raise up leaders who will show political love and give more back to God than they received from us?

All Souls Remembrance and Mass on 11/2

On All Souls Day, we remember our deceased loved ones. A public Mass will be said at the church on Monday, November 2 at 12:10 PM, which will begin a novena that the priests of St. Charles Borromeo will offer for the departed.

We invite you to inscribe the names of those you wish for us to remember and pray for on the All Souls Remembrance envelopes found in the back of the Church. You will also be able to submit names and make a remembrance donation online at the following link, https://stcharlesbklyn.weshareonline.org/ws/opportunities/AllSouls2020.

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Answering God’s Call

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
October 18, 2020

This week, we continue reading the book of Isaiah, but we will move from Jerusalem around 700 BC to Babylon around 530 BC and the second person to use that name. Like his namesake, he believes in the sovereignty of the LORD, that the LORD works in history, and that Jews have a vocation to the world. He will however bring a distinct perspective and greater subtlety to his analysis and prophecy.

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Community Mass – 29th Sunday Ordinary Time – 10/18 11:15 am EDT

Please join us for our Community Mass for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sunday, October 18 at 11:15 AM EDT. It will be a public Mass celebrated in the church and also streamed online.

Instructions to view the Mass are available here. You can also watch the video via YouTube Live in the window here.

28th Sunday Ordinary Time (Msgr. LoPinto Homily)

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-730437.

As we look at the Scripture for this 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we see that there is a common theme. I would describe that theme as an invitation in the First Reading from Isaiah, and it’s part of the first part of Isaiah.

As you might recall, Isaiah is made up of three parts, expanding over – covering many, many years. The first part is Isaiah responding to the invitation of God to become God’s spokesperson. As that part of Isaiah then progresses, there is an awareness of struggle on the part of the people, and Isaiah is addressing that struggle. It is a struggle that has caused the people in a sense to become very down-hearted.

And so when you come to this particular section of Isaiah, the invitation is to this great feast. It is invitation to what can best be described as a messianic banquet: rich food, choice wine. But always interesting enough, on the mountain – they’re invited to the mountain.  And in a sense the invitation can best be described, I think, as an invitation to a people who are burdened to dream: to dream of a better moment, to dream of what comes from hearing God’s word. Trusting in God and then dreaming of the vision of what God will bring into being.

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9 AM Mass Resumes on October 18

We are happy to share that our 9 AM Sunday Mass will resume on October 18. Thanks to our reopening committee, volunteer ushers, music ministry, lectors, and priests for making it possible to expand our worship times on Sunday.

Starting on October 18, two Sunday Masses will be celebrated at St. Charles Borromeo: 9 AM and 11:15 AM. The 11:15  AM Mass will continue to be live-streamed via Zoom and YouTube and also available for later viewing on YouTube for those who are not able to join us in person. We will look to add a 7 PM Mass at a later date.

Again, the new schedule starts in eight days on Sunday, October 18. There is no 9 AM Mass this upcoming Sunday, October 11; only a 11:15 AM Mass.

We are still seeking more volunteer ushers. Our volunteer ushers allow us to worship together while abiding by the recommended safety precautions. If you are able to serve as an usher either at a 9 AM or 11:15 AM Sunday Mass, please contact Jane Olson, Joe Genova, or speak to them outside the church after Mass.