Meet & Greets + Children’s Nativity Pageant
This Sunday, we will have our monthly Meet & Greets after each of the Masses. We will serve breakfast after the 9 and 11:15 PM mass, and wine and cheese after the 7 PM Mass. The Children’s Nativity Pageant will be held during the Gospel at the 11:15 AM Mass – this is a highlight of our Family Faith Program each year. Our special guests will be young adults from St. Vincent Services. Please join us for fellowship and good cheer in this special season!
Connecting at St Charles
Do you work insane hours? Do you travel so much you don’t know where you will be next week much less where you will attend Mass? Do you feel that you really don’t belong to any Parish and want to feel more connected to St Charles? Please join us this Monday, Dec 17th, 7:30 PM at 31 Sidney Place (The Rectory) Parlor Floor
Fr John Gribowich, a resident at St Charles who is continuing his studies in media at the University of California Berkley, will assist us in developing ways to connect with each other. He will be joined by Davd Plisky from DeSales Media.
I hope and pray that you will be able to attend.
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens was recently featured in the New York Times Neediest Cases column for its Intern and Earn program, which gets 16-24-year olds back on track in their home, school, or career lives. Read more at https://nyti.ms/2zG3cJW (free article). The second collection at Christmas will be dedicated to Catholic Charities.
We are also continuing to have the following collections:
- Christmas Collection and Christmas Flowers for our Church – Give online at https://stcharlesbklyn.
weshareonline.org/ ChristmasSpecialCollection or use your mass envelope.
- 7th Annual Toys for Tots drive at the The Custom House – Unwrapped Toys & Gift Cards to be distributed by Catholic Charities. Drop off at The Custom House at 139 Montague Street by December 15th.
- Family Faith Program Collection of Winter Hats, Scarves, Gloves for St. Charles Seniors – drop off unwrapped items at box at front of church by Sunday, December 16.
Thank you very much for your support!
Fr William Smith
Third Sunday of Advent
Dec. 16, 2018
Today we read from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah. He is rarely quoted directly but will be somewhat familiar to classical music enthusiasts for providing the opening words to the Dies Irae, a hymn which was part of the old Requiem Mass.
A day of wrath is that day
a day of anguish and distress,
A day of destruction and desolation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
A day of thick black clouds
He does however have much to teach us that is particularly suited to the Advent season.
He gives us a brief autobiography at the beginning of his book.
The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah, the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah.
He is very well connected – a descendant indeed of the good king Hezekiah (716-687 BC), he also dates himself to the reign of the reforming king Josiah. (640-609) This would make him a slightly older contemporary of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. As we have seen before this was a time when the military power of Assyria was diminishing. The Jews were able to take some breathing room not only to attempt to obtain greater political autonomy but also greater religious independence. During the reigns of Manasseh and Amon (687-640) many foreign elements were added to Jewish worship and practice. This was good politics but bad religion. Zephaniah was the first prophet since Isaiah, and he encouraged King Josiah to purify religious practice. Much of the first chapter of Zephaniah is virtually incomprehensible to us because it speaks of pagan religious practices that were successfully purged from Jewish worship. For instance, “the Lord will punish all who leap over the threshold”, (Zephaniah 1:9) This refers to the worship of the pagan god Dargon. The effect however is familiar:
12 At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps;
I will punish the men …
Who say in their hearts,
“Neither good nor evil can the LORD do.”
Zephaniah 1:12 (NAB)
Once worship is adulterated and tradition weakened, ultimately belief is surrendered and God may seem irrelevant. It is Zephaniah’s message that the Lord is always a player.
For Zephaniah, the fish stinks from the head down.
1 Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted,
to the tyrannical city!
2 She hears no voice,
accepts no correction;
In the LORD she has not trusted,
to her God she has not drawn near.
3 Her princes in her midst
are roaring lions;
Her judges are wolves of the night
that have had no bones to gnaw by morning.
4 Her prophets are insolent,
Her priests profane what is holy,
and do violence to the law. Zephaniah 3:1–4
A fairly comprehensive list and a realistic evaluation. Bad leaders bring bad ends. Realistic also is Zephaniah’s address to the poor:
2 Before you are driven away,
like chaff that passes on;
Before there comes upon you
the blazing anger of the LORD:
Before there comes upon you
the day of the LORD’S anger.
3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth,
who have observed his law;
Seek justice, seek humility;
perhaps you may be sheltered
on the day of the LORD’S anger.
This reveals a unique feature of the Old Testament. The Lord is concerned about the poor and the marginalized, and calls those who are rich and prosperous to task for the means by which they obtained and maintained their prosperity and position. Characteristic as well is that – as we have seen before – the prophets will call down God’s wrath on foreign nations.
4 For Gaza shall be forsaken,
and Ashkelon shall be a waste,
Ashdod they shall drive out at midday,
and Ekron shall be uprooted.
It goes on for quite a while and is very comprehensive, but is balanced by the oracles against the Jews themselves. As the history of the Jewish people clearly shows being the Chosen people is not a free pass. All are subject to the justice of God, but also his mercy. After He has shown His wrath on the nations, He will make them His own:
9 For then I will change and purify
the lips of the peoples,
That they all may call upon the name of the LORD,
to serve him with one accord;
10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
and as far as the recesses of the North,
they shall bring me offerings.
The Jews will be the means he will use to accomplish this:
11 On that day
You need not be ashamed
of all your deeds,
your rebellious actions against me;
For then will I remove from your midst
the proud braggarts,
And you shall no longer exalt yourself
on my holy mountain.
12 But I will leave as a remnant in your midst
a people humble and lowly,
Who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD;
13 the remnant of Israel.
They shall do no wrong
and speak no lies;
Nor shall there be found in their mouths
a deceitful tongue;
They shall pasture and couch their flocks
with none to disturb them. Zephaniah 3:11–13
Here we see an important theme in the first testament. The Jewish people are not chosen for themselves, but to be the light to the nations and the means by which all people will come to know the Lord. Thus, Zephaniah speaks of a remnant that will live in Jerusalem after the others have been removed.
This is where our reading today begins. Before examining it, we need to look at a bit of editing. As we have seen before, the final editing of many of the books in the first testament was after the exile about 500 BC. Most scholars believe that this section was added as a fitting conclusion to the book.
It is a shout of joy for the saving work of God. It is also a very realistic one. We believe that God has entered into history and reveals himself through it. It takes time to see that those who live as if God matters will be vindicated. That what may have seen immediately as disaster was a means of holiness and that the God who is in our midst will:
18 as one sings at festivals.
I will remove disaster from among you,
so that none may recount your disgrace.
Zephaniah 3:18 (NAB)