Exodus & 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

Greetings from St Charles:

Contact information for Fr Smith: Tel #718.625.1177 ext 409 or email ([email protected])

Summer is a slow time and many of us are away but for those of us still here, I would like to invite you to have a relational (individual) Meeting with a member of the Parish. I try to meet with all new parishioners and I ask you to contact me to arrange a time. We also encourage everyone to meet with other people so that we truly get to know each other and by that to know Jesus better. To speak with me see the above information, to arrange meeting with another parishioner, please contact the rectory at 718.625.1177 or email at [email protected]

Youth: Youth: Our program will begin again in September, please call or email the Parish office (718.625.1177) to register.
Adult spirituality: The Scripture program will begin again in the Fall. As previously they will be small groups which will meet at various times and places throughout the week. If you are interested, please call Fr Smith.

The parish bulletin which may be obtained in the church or on-line at https://www.stcharlesbklyn.org, has a collection of wonderful quotes from Pope Francis and the Mass readings for every day of the Week.

Summer is a time when St Charles will receive new parishioners. We welcome everyone and hope that you will find St Charles a true Church family. There will be a “Meet and Greet” after all the Masses on September 16th – 9:00 and 11:15 AM and 7:00PM – to welcome our new parishioners. We especially look forward to greeting the students from our local dorms and parents with school aged children. We remind our present parishioners to invite anyone who might wish to join us to Mass that day.

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Aug. 5, 2018

We read today from the Book of Exodus. It is the second book of the Bible and means “Going out” in Greek reflecting the “going out” of the Hebrews from captivity in Egypt. It forms part of what Christian’s call the Pentateuch, (first) five scrolls, and Jews “The Torah” usually translated as “The Law” but more accurately “the Teachings”. Until the last 200 years it was held that the Pentateuch was written by Moses during the wandering in the desert but now is seen as being written by several authors over several hundred years. As the Pentateuch is a collection of legends, laws, stories and bits of memory it might best be considered a work of editors from about 600BC – 400BC than authors in the modern sense of the word. The period of composition then would have been from the last days of the Kingdom of Judea to the time of Persian rule when all pretense of even an honorary king from the line of David had disappeared. Its last editor was most likely a priest who wished to show that the Hebrew people, now best called Jews, “People of the land of Judea”, were kept together by majesty of worship and law not the might and cunning of Kings.
The section we read today occurs six weeks after the Hebrews have left Egypt. The last Oasis, place of water, is behind them and their provisions are exhausted. They face a severe shortage of food and there is no place to obtain provisions. The people begin to grumble and express the concern that they will face a long slow death.

“Would that we had died at the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”

The Lord’s hand here means a “natural” death from Old Age or accident. Fleshpots mean the cauldrons in which meat is cooked. It was quite unusual to eat meat but they are indicating that they may not have had meat regularly but had enough that they missed it. G.K Chesterton wrote that Christianity was not tried and found wanting but found difficult and left untried” This is true of any authentic attempt to follow God as the Hebrews are discovering it in the desert.
Notice however the next scene:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the
people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they
follow my instructions or not (16:4)

The first and most important thing is That God is not bowing to pressure. He sees the need and responds with graciousness. Psalm 105 reads

They asked, and he brought quails,
and gave them food from heaven in abundance (105:40)

Also, they are to go out each day and collect the Mana. This is the secretion of insects living in the tamarisk tree that is still eaten by Bedouins today. It emphasizes not only God generosity but also that it can be received only by changing one’s life to be in turn with God’s demands. The quail also were a sign of God’s generousity. They would not have had such a luxury in the city. God’s care is overwhelming.

For the meaning however we need to read the final lines of our passage.

15 On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat”.

The Hebrews who left Egypt were city people Mana would have been foreign to them and them quite reasonable asked what it was, Moses does not answer as a naturalist but as a prophet. “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat”.

We cannot be certain how much of this relates historical events. As an example, Mania is available only in certain months of the year and only where there are tamarisk trees and quail, can be numerous when migrating, but are simply not in the Middle East for more than a few weeks in the year. This should not be surprising as they relate events that are literally pre-historic, before reliable and consistent records. This is not the case however for the time when Exodus attained its final edition, The Jews were a highly literate people who have left us their reflections on their history. They have had a culturally near-death experience. What other people were cut off from the center of their religious existence, the temple, deported to another land then were able to return and start again eventually building a much grander place of worship all he while under forging domination? The only guidance they could find was from their own history and the liberation from bondage of Egpt: the exodus. The stories which they put in the final edtion were those that had the most to teach them about how to live in their present mment and situation,

The task of those who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon was a daunting one. As we see in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra some were discouraged and wished to return “home” to Babylon as many of the Hebrews wished to turn back to Egypt. Look at the support and confidence they would hate received by reading the stories of the “first” exodus. Not only the triumph at return to the Land but also God’s care for their physical as much as their spiritual needs. Faithfulness to God is always rewarded.

We live in a time of Exile, literally, culturally and spiritually. There are more displaced people today than even after the second world war, there are also people who feel that the world that they knew and loved has been taken from them or never arrived. It is easy to think of non-college educated white men who fear the inevitable change of America into a majority minority (non-white) country. Yet perhaps more of us either are part of or know families who mortgaged their homes and future to give their children the best educations possible and now discover that they may never get out of a mountain of debt and the children will never have lives as secure and prosperous as they did. Personally, I sometimes feel that I have gone to bed in America but have woken up in France. I can, should I so desire, freely worship God but the institutions created to make that worship real diminished by the judicial and administrative actions of the State.

Like the Hebrews and Jews before us we have brought ourselves to our own man-made exile and need to ask ourselves if will join them in a God led Exodus?