2nd Sunday Ordinary Time – Lord of Time; King of Now

Food Pantry
As a result of the Government Shutdown, many federal employees (including our own parishioners) have had to resort to food pantries and other meal support. If the shutdown continues through February, SNAP/Food Stamps will not be distributed in March, which will place even more people in need. 

Catholic Charities’s food supplies have been particularly depleted over the past week. Msgr. LoPinto has asked us to make an emergency appeal for canned food donations. Please bring your donations to the back of the church after Mass or you may bring them to the Rectory during the week. Alternatively, you can donate online at https://stcharlesbklyn.weshareonline.org/CatholicCharitiesFoodPantry . 100% of your donation will be used for Catholic Charities’ Food Pantry.

If you are in need of food, visit the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in our parish at 191 Joralemon Street, 1st Floor (around the corner from the Church) on Thursdays from 9:30 AM – 3 PM. A list of other Catholic Charities’ sites and times of operation are at https://www.ccbq.org/what-we-do/taxonomy/term/13/food-pantry-services.

Sergio Sandi – Beethoven Sonatas Recital – Saturday, January 19th, 7:30 PM at the church.
Suggested donation $10. See here for more information.

Meet & Greets – Sunday, January 27 after each Mass
Our next Meet & Greets will be next Sunday, January 27. We will be offering coffee and breakfast after the 9 and 11:15 AM Masses, and wine and cheese after the 7 PM Mass. Please join us for hospitality and fellowship!

Bishop’s Visit – Sunday, February 3, 9 AM
Bishop DiMarzio will be visiting St. Charles on Sunday, February 3rd, and will be celebrating the 9 AM Mass that day. Please join us to welcome him together as a parish community that morning. While we will still have the 11:15 AM and 7 PM Masses as usual, it’s also Super Bowl Sunday, so perhaps the 9 AM Mass will best fit your schedule that day.

Winter Storm Warning
Snow, ice, and high winds are forecast for Saturday night and Sunday. We anticipate all Masses and activities to be held as scheduled, but please take into account your personal safety in your travel decisions.


First Reading

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 62:1-5


Today’s reading from Isaiah is remarkably uplifting poetry, all the more amazing in that it is essentially a motivational talk to encourage the Judeans to plant crops and pay taxes. It is, though, more powerful than that.

We have read Isaiah many times in Advent and Christmastide and have discovered that several people used the name, and the one we read today wrote around 500 BC from Jerusalem. He was among the Jewish leaders who accepted the invitation of King Cyrus of Persia to leave Babylon and return to a devastated Jerusalem. When there, they could rebuild their temple and nation. Whatever romantic illusions they may have had were set to rest by the realities. Funding was never as great as they desired, those who took over the land in their absence –the Samaritans – were first suspicious and then hostile and the sheer extent of the task proved very discouraging. They were also reminded that they were a very small part of a very large empire which demanded taxes for its treasury and food for its soldiers.

In the section immediately after what we read today, we hear:

8 The LORD has sworn by his right hand

and by his mighty arm:

No more will I give your grain

as food to your enemies;

Nor shall foreigners drink your wine,

for which you toiled.

9 But you who harvest the grain shall eat it,

and you shall praise the LORD;

You who gather the grapes shall drink the wine

in the courts of my sanctuary. Isaiah 62:8–9


From this we may infer that the food grown by the newly restored Judeans was taken by the Persian authorities, and Isaiah is assuring them that God will help them.

Today, we hear Isaiah call to his people.

 For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,

 and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

 until her vindication emerges in brightness,

 and her salvation as a flaming torch


He is repeating the familiar idea of reversal.  The Jews were once captive but will now be so changed that they will need a new name:

Nations shall behold your vindication,

and all kings your glory;

You shall be called by a new name

pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.

3 You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,

a royal diadem held by your God.

4 No more shall men call you “Forsaken,”

or your land “Desolate,” Isaiah 62:2–4


Yet not any new name, Jerusalem will become the “wife” of God himself:


But you shall be called “My Delight,”

and your land “Espoused.”

For the LORD delights in you,

and makes your land his spouse.

5 As a young man marries a virgin,

your Builder shall marry you;

And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride

so shall your God rejoice in you. Isaiah 62:5

Isaiah is telling his people that that they must deepen their understanding of their relationship with God. It is not a contract or an arrangement. It is a covenant in the deepest sense: God and his people will share a common life. This is the motivation to continue to rebuild the temple and reestablish the people: a call to the deepest intimacy,

This has taken on a very contemporary resonance. The (ongoing) shutdown of government has many people, including some of our own parishioners, working at very critical jobs without pay. As these are people with options – indeed may have taken a reduction in salary to serve the public sector – we should thank them for their service, but still might wonder – why they are doing this? Some I would assume are responding to a vision that motivates them to do more than what makes common sense. There are, thank God, people in every age who do.

This week we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Every biography of Dr King notes the shear amount of detail work he had to do to accomplish his goals. By any purely rational calculus he and those who followed him were squandering their lives. Yet, he articulated a vision that made it seem not only a reasonable, but a natural course of action.

I reread Dr King’s “Letter form a Birmingham Jail” every year at this time. It is addressed to well-meaning white clergymen who felt that Dr King was impatient and that as he was on the right side of history, he only had to wait. One favorite section below is a reminder to all of us in a difficult time about inevitably:

“… The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

When we hear a prophet like Isaiah or MLK, we need to ask about our own vision both as individuals and as a Parish. Both knew that God was on their side, but that if He was kind and merciful, they must be just and wise. Scripture says: “Where there is not vision the people die”. (Proverbs 29:18) This is a diagnosis, but also a prescription. It requires us to look at what we believe, but for the prophets emerging from the Hebrew bible, it requires us to examine how closely our vision compares to the Word of God. If the vision is ours alone, we shall be both desolate and forsaken; if it is God’s, we shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by our God.

Sergio Sandi – Beethoven Sonatas Recital

Music Director Sergio Sandi will be giving a recital of sonatas by Beethoven next Saturday January 19th at 7:30 pm at the church.  Suggested donation $10.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 1 No. 1
– Allegro
– Adagio
– Menuetto: allegretto
– Prestissimo
Sonata No. 13 in E-flat major “Quasi una fantasia“, Op. 27 No. 1
– Andante – Allegro – Andante
– Allegro molto e vivace
– Adagio con espressione
– Allegro vivace
Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp major, Op. 78
– Adagio cantabile – Allegro ma non troppo
– Allegro vivace
Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 – “Waldstein”
– Allegro con brio
– Introduzione: adagio molto

Upcoming Events Jan 14-Feb 3

Media Meeting – Monday, January 14, 7 PM
Please join us for our next meeting on the our efforts to minister to our parishioners that are on the go and have extensive work and family commitments. RSVP to [email protected] if you can participate in person, or can join us remotely via Skype.

Sergio Sandi – Beethoven Sonatas Recital – Saturday, January 19th, 7:30 PM at the church.
Suggested donation $10. See here for more information.

Meet & Greets – Sunday, January 27 after each Mass
Our next Meet & Greets will be on Sunday, January 27. We will be offering coffee and breakfast after the 9 and 11:15 AM Masses, and wine and cheese after the 7 PM Mass. Please join us for hospitality and fellowship!

Bishop’s Visit – Sunday, February 3, 9 AM
*Note the date was incorrect in last week’s email!

Bishop DiMarzio will be visiting St. Charles on Sunday, February 3rd, and will be celebrating the 9 AM Mass that day. Please join us to welcome him together as a parish community that morning. While we will still have the 11:15 AM and 7 PM Masses as usual, it’s also Super Bowl Sunday, so perhaps the 9 AM Mass will best fit your schedule that day.

Baptism of the Lord – The Other Epiphanies We Need

The Epiphanies 

Epiphany derives from a Greek word for “making manifest or shining forth”. We celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany last Sunday with the commemoration of the Three Kings. Here, Jesus is revealed, “made manifest’, to the world. Yet, there are other events in which He also shines forth. The Church has recognized this by celebrating two other “Epiphanies”. In the “Baptism of the Lord” which we celebrate this weekend, the voice of the Father comes from heaven and says: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”. Here, Jesus is acknowledged as a member of the Trinity. The third is the first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana. Here, the power of Jesus to heal is proclaimed, but also the realization that the clearest manifestation of his reality will not be seen until his death and resurrection. We will read this next week. In the present selection of readings, this order is maintained only in Year C and so we will not celebrate the three Epiphanies again for another three years. I ask you to think about these manifestations, and ask yourselves when Jesus has shined in your own lives. To recognize this in Church, a few Christmas trees will be left in the Sanctuary, and the recessional hymn at Mass next week will be “Joy to the World”.

First Reading:

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

Jan 13, 2019


The return of the Jewish leaders to Jerusalem was obviously an important event for the Jews. Isaiah, who has a wider view of history, shows us in today’s reading that we must also see it from the perspective of “world” history, God cannot move without disruption. To understand this, we must begin with Chapter 41.

Isaiah is creating a trial scene in which God is the prosecuting attorney and judge. The first case is “who liberated the Jewish People?” As we proceed, note that the proper scriptural passages are placed on the side but only a small section is written out. Hebrew poetry is a bit repetitive to our ears.

Summons to trail 1 41:1

Keep silence before me, O coastlands;

you peoples, wait for my words!

Let them draw near and speak;

let us come together for judgment. Isaiah 41:1


“Coastlands” refer to the trading peoples of the Mediterranean world – they are not Jewish.


Legal questioning 1 – 41:2-4

2 Who has stirred up from the East the champion of justice,

and summoned him to be his attendant?

To him he delivers the nations

and subdues the kings;

With his sword he reduces them to dust,

with his bow, to driven straw. Isaiah 41:2

This is Cyrus, the king of Persia who conquered Babylon and will offer the Jewish leaders an opportunity to return. Yet, it is the God of the Jews who is in control.


4 Who has performed these deeds?

He who has called forth the generations since the beginning.

I, the LORD, am the first,

and with the last I will also be. Isaiah 41:4 (NAB)


Election and reassurance of Israel 41:5-20

8 But you, Israel, my servant,

Jacob, whom I have chosen,

offspring of Abraham my friend—

9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth

and summoned from its far-off places,

You whom I have called my servant,

whom I have chosen and will not cast off— Isaiah 41:8–9 (NAB)

Cyrus has been obedient to God’s will and has been rewarded with victory, but the Persians are not the chosen people. It is the people of Abraham who God has recalled from the ends of the earth and have his special favor. Note also that he refers to them as servants. They are chosen and important, but because they have a role.

Many beautiful lines follow but they reinforce the idea that the God of Israel is the Lord of History but as we have seen many times before He demands justice from his people.

Summons to trail 2 41:21

Having established that Israel’s God has worked his will, we begin the second trial, “Are there other Gods?”

21 Present your case, says the LORD;

bring forward your reasons, says the King of Jacob Isaiah 41:2


Legal Questioning 2 41:22-29


Now the “other” gods are on trial, or more specifically their idols:


23 Foretell the things that shall come afterward,

that we may know that you are gods!

Do something, good or evil,

that will put us in awe and in fear. Isaiah 41:23


They cannot, therefore:


24 Why, you are nothing and your work is nought!

To choose you is an abomination. Isaiah 41:24 (NAB)


He uses Cyrus as an example. He called him and the “other gods” did not even know it:


26 Who announced this from the beginning, that we might know;

beforehand, that we might say it is true?

Not one of you foretold it, not one spoke;

no one heard you say, Isaiah 41:26 (NAB)


From this He concludes that they do not exist. This is the earliest clear statement that there are no other gods


29 Ah, all of them are nothing,

their works are nought,

their idols are empty wind! Isaiah 41:29 (NAB)


Election and reassurance of Israel 2 42:1-9

We now come to the section for Sunday’s reading.

We have seen in 41:8 that God has called His servant. He returns to this when explains to the people what accepting Him as the only deity really means.

1 Here is my servant whom I uphold,

my chosen one with whom I am pleased,

Upon whom I have put my spirit;

he shall bring forth justice to the nations. Isaiah 42:1 (NAB)


He is speaking to the Jews who returned to Jerusalem not to a king, or indeed a prophet. As we saw last week the Kings and the traditional leaders failed. They failed to be just to their own people and thus could not fulfill their calling to bring justice to the nations. If the God of the Jews is truly the only God, then he is truly the ultimate course of Justice and peace.

3 A bruised reed he shall not break,

and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,

4 Until he establishes justice on the earth;

the coastlands will wait for his teaching. Isaiah 42:3–4 (NAB)


It shall not be by their own power; certainly not by traditional military might. A plant shall not be crushed by their own efforts, but the power of God will transform the pagans of the Coastlands who, in the quiet of their hearts, await the message that will set them free as well.

6 I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,

I have grasped you by the hand;

I formed you, and set you

as a covenant of the people,

a light for the nations, Isaiah 42:6 (NAB)


By His covenant, sharing of life with His people, He will make them into a light for the nations: the way His name will be known.

Through them he will do for the world what he did for Israel

7 To open the eyes of the blind,

to bring out prisoners from confinement,

and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. Isaiah 42:7 (NAB


Through our covenant with Jesus, we have joined the Jews in the responsibility of being the light to the nations. As Pope Francis reminded the U.S. bishops on their retreat which concluded last Tuesday, this will be done with a firm commitment to justice. In its clearest form, this means our care for those who are poor and whose needs are not even seen. As of this writing, the “Partial” government shutdown is still in effect. There are contract workers who will never be paid and who are in desperate straits as it is. I  wonder how many congresspeople and bureaucrats, as well as the President and Cabinet members, know the names of the people who clean their offices? Do they know if they have children and can they pay their bills? Or are they as interchangeable as the desks and chairs? The people of Abraham will be visible and will be a light to the nations, but only if we care for those who invisible.

Epiphany – We the People, the Kings

Meet & Greets – Sunday, January 27
Our next Meet & Greets will be on Sunday, January 27. We will be offering coffee and breakfast after the 9 and 11:15 AM Masses, and wine and cheese after the 7 PM Mass. Please join us for hospitality and fellowship!

Bishop’s Visit – Sunday, February 2 3
Bishop DiMarzio will be visiting St. Charles on Sunday, February 2nd 3rd, and will be celebrating the 9 AM Mass that day. Please join us to welcome him that morning.

The Pope and the Bishops:

This week the Bishops of the United States are on a religious retreat suggested by Pope Francis. Their Retreat Master is Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher to the Papal Household  and thus preacher to the Pope. Pope Francis has also written to them a most bracing letter. You may find the letter in full at: http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/francis/upload/francis-lettera-washington-traduzione-inglese-20190103.pdf

We would all benefit from reading this part as a parish:

[What we need as a Church] requires not only a new approach to management, but also a change in our mind-set (metanoia), our way of praying, our handling of power and money, our exercise of authority and our way of relating to one another and to the world around us. Changes in the Church are always aimed at encouraging a constant state of missionary and pastoral conversion capable of opening up new ecclesial paths ever more in keeping with the Gospel and, as such, respectful of human dignity. … [The Church] needs bishops who can teach others how to discern God’s presence in the history of his people, not mere administrators.”

All who wish to have a place in Church leadership should listen to these words. I certainly will.

Fr Smith



First Reading

The Epiphany

Jan 6, 2019


Last week we saw the Jewish people move from clan and chieftain leadership to a monarchy. Although this occurred around the year 1000 BC, the book of Samuel revealed a rather sophisticated understanding of the strengths and weakness of each system. This week, we see how the Jews adapted to knowing that they would not have a king in the foreseeable future and an even more sophisticated analysis of the consequences.

This section of the book of Isaiah was written about 500 BC in Jerusalem. It is a difficult time. The Persians invited the leaders of the Jews to return after a generation in exile, but as their subjects. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah give the background to this and it is obvious that many of those who returned were not happy. They were uncertain why they were there and what they were supposed to do.

The author instructed them very shrewdly. The residents of Jerusalem would have prayed the Psalms probably from memory. They would have known Psalm 72, part of which reads:

O God, give your judgment to the king; 

your justice to the son of kings;

That he may govern your people with justice,

your oppressed with right judgment,

3 That the mountains may yield their bounty for the people,

and the hills great abundance,

4 That he may defend the oppressed among the people,

save the poor and crush the oppressor.  Psalm 72:2–4


What does this mean when there is no king? Simply that the entire people, or at least those residing in Jerusalem, have taken on the role of King. As usual with the Old Testament, we first see this negatively. In the chapter immediately before what we read this week:


1 Lo, the hand of the LORD is not too short to save,

nor his ear too dull to hear.

2 Rather, it is your crimes

that separate you from your God,

It is your sins that make him hide his face

so that he will not hear you. (Isaiah 59:1-2)


These sins are from injustice:


No one brings suit justly,

no one pleads truthfully;

They trust in emptiness and tell lies;

they conceive mischief and bring forth malice. Isaiah 59:4


The verdict of Deuteronomy is always present. When the people act justly, they prosper; when they do not, they falter. It is easy to blame a corrupt political or moral system, but the prophets will not have it. This is partly true, but nothing can exempt anyone from acting justly.


Also, common however in the Old Testament is the promise of reversal – that the reward for justice is prosperity and respect among the nations. We see that in the opening verses today:


1 Rise up in splendor! Your light has come,

the glory of the Lord shines upon you.

2 See, darkness covers the earth,

and thick clouds cover the peoples;

But upon you the LORD shines,

and over you appears his glory. Isaiah 60:1–2


The light is the presence of God which accomplishes all things, including the gathering of all the tribes – traditionally the task of kings.


4 Raise your eyes and look about;

they all gather and come to you:

Your sons come from afar,

and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Isaiah 60:4

The respect of the nations is more than just words, these are physical people, and everything must be in physical terms.

For the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,

the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.

6 Caravans of camels shall fill you,

dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;

All from Sheba shall come

bearing gold and frankincense,

and proclaiming the praises of the LORD. Isaiah 60:5–6

Note the reference to Sheba, and remember that the queen of Sheba brought gifts to King Solomon. This reflects the past; interesting, however are the feelings towards the foreign nations.

During the exile, Ezekiel wrote:

You have admitted foreigners, uncircumcised both in heart and flesh, to my sanctuary to profane it when you offered me food, fat, and blood; thus you have broken my covenant by all your abominations.  Ez 44:7


In the passage which follows what we read today:

7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you,

the rams of Nebaioth shall be your sacrifices;

They will be acceptable offerings on my altar,

and I will enhance the splendor of my house. Isaiah 60:7 (NAB)



13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you:

the cypress, the plane and the pine,

To bring beauty to my sanctuary,

and glory to the place where I set my feet. Isaiah 60:13

For this author, they rebuild the Temple and provide the offerings. This reflects Isaiah 49 on the vocation of the people of Israel:

6 It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,

to raise up the tribes of Jacob,

and restore the survivors of Israel;

I will make you a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6

Last week, we saw that the transition to Kingship could only be accomplished for Jews with the aid of a prophet. We see the same here. There is much conflict and contradiction, but a path is found not by administrators or soldiers or priests but by prophets.

As we begin 2019, we may feel like the Jews in Jerusalem asking: “what happened”? Who will make sense of this? In Jewish and Christian terms, “Where are our prophets?” When Pope Francis addressed Congress in 2015, one of the four Americans he mentioned was Abraham Lincoln. As the Civil War, the bloodiest and cruelest upheaval our country has ever faced, was coming to an end, Lincoln wrote in his Second Inaugural Address:

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan  to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

His interpretation of the moment that charity and generosity were needed, not violence and revenge, was an extraordinary and unwanted insight. It was prophecy in action. Like Isaiah over two millennia before, he was perhaps the only person who could see it clearly and say it eloquently. Enough who heard Isaiah followed him and Judaism has survived and prospered. We have perhaps not followed Lincoln closely enough, which is why the Pope had to include Martin Luther King in his address – enough so that we have stumbled by. Given the gravity of our situation, God will send us  prophets who will share extraordinary and unwanted insights as well.

Will we hear? Will we follow?