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.
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
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.