July 4th Greetings:
Best wishes for Independence Day. Wherever we are it is time to pray that our republic has the strength which, as our first reading tells us, only comes from virtue. Mass will be celebrated on July 4th at 12:10PM.
Sacramental preparation for non-Baptized people who would like to be Baptized, for Baptized non-Catholics and for Catholics who have not received Holy Communion and/or been Confirmed will begin in the Fall. The classes recognize the busy schedules of members of our community and are quite flexible. Please see Fr Smith after Mass, call him at 718-625-1177 ex. 409 or email him at pastor @stcharlesbklyn.org.
Wisdom of Solomon” (1:13-15, 2:23-24)
Thirteenth Sunday of the year
July 1, 2018
The reading from the Old Testament this weekend is from the Book of the “Wisdom of Solomon” (1:13-15, 2:23-24.) Although it sounds ancient it is perhaps the last book in the Old Testament and could have been written as late as 30BC. Also, although it takes the name of King Solomon of Jerusalem from about 1000BC it was most likely written in Alexandra Egypt for the children of the Jewish elite who were immersed in the Roman world and tempted to give up their faith. There is much of interest here.
The conceit of the book is that King Solomon is presenting to the other kings and princes of the world the mind of God. Note it is assumed that God has created the entire world and his laws are based on this creation. Memorably he begins:
Love justice, you who judge the earth;
think of the LORD in goodness,
and seek him in integrity of heart; (Wisdom 1:1-3)
Justice connects us to reality and reveals God’s Goodness. It may be found only by those with integrity of heart. The consequences of this are revealed in the first part of today’s reading:
13 Because God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
14 For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
And there is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of the nether world on earth,
15 For justice is undying. (Wisdom 1:13-15)
This is an important passage because it directly addresses prominent Greek ideas which would have been attractive to the young elite. When older Jewish writings promised life to those who lived justly they meant health, prosperity, children, etc. in this life. If there was an afterlife it was a pale reflection of this one. Wisdom claims that there is an afterlife that is positive and robust because the world reflects the goodness of God and just as god is everlasting so is his creation especially we who are specially created in his likeness.
The life of which he speaks is not so much continuing breathing but an existence which reflects the presence of God. To deny the image of God in the way we live our lives is to invite destruction of our very being. We were created for bliss, but we can embrace destruction. As the concluding section of today’s reading puts it:
23 For God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made him.
24 But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who are in his possession experience it.
Although this is not a prophetic book, it speaks to some of the same issues and gives a more philosophical understanding for thoughts and actions. Justice is not just something nice but reflects the way the world is created. To be unjust is to be literally unreal and dying in the here and now. Justice is also not just a series of actions that can be detached from the rest of one’s life, but part of our very being. As we saw in the very first lines of this book, without integrity of heart, wisdom will always escape us, because whether a king or a pauper only the just person can live a worthy life.