6th Sunday Ordinary Time – Weeping

Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse

This week Pope Francis has summoned the heads of all the Bishops’ conferences throughout the world to the Vatican for a summit on clerical sex abuse. Let us keep in our minds and hearts those who have been victimized by Priests and pray that our leaders will be open to the Holy Spirit. A prayer is provided below:

God of endless love,
ever caring, ever strong,
always present, always just:
You gave your only Son
to save us by the blood of his cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
join to your own suffering
the pain of all who have been hurt
in body, mind, and spirit
by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear our cries as we agonize
over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers,
soothe restless hearts with hope,
steady shaken spirits with faith:
Show us the way to justice and wholeness,
enlightened by truth and enfolded in your mercy.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
heal your people’s wounds
and transform our brokenness.
Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace,
so that we may act with justice
and find peace in you.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Watch Out for Email Scams

This week, people from several Brooklyn Heights organizations, including our church and other churches in the area, received emails urgently asking people to buy gift cards and send the codes via email. These all purported to be from organization leaders, but came from fraudulent email addresses. Stay safe by keeping these tips in mind:

  1. We will only ask for contributions from our online giving site on WeShare, https://stcharlesbklyn.weshareonline.org or the sites on the Diocese’s Giving page, https://dioceseofbrooklyn.org/giving/ , or we will ask donations to be physically brought to Mass or the Rectory Office.
  2. Check to see if the request comes from someone you trust: even if the From: name is someone you know, the email address may not be their address. Be wary if the message is poorly worded or does not “sound” like something the sender would write.
  3. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to independently confirm the email – give them a call or text or ask in person. You can always call the Rectory at (718) 625-1177.

St. Luke
Brooklyn Museum – Saint Luke (Saint Luc) – James Tissot from Wikimedia

Understanding Luke

St Luke expected his readers and hearers to experience his writings – the Gospel that has his name and the “Acts of the Apostles” – many times. He also assumed that his gentile audience would attend Bible study for what we now call the Old Testament,  but which would simply have been “the” Scriptures to them. Over time they would have seen parallels emerge with connections between the Hebrew Scriptures, the Gospel and Acts. Our appreciation of Luke will deepen if we allow them to emerge as well,


22 Blessed are you when people hate you,

and when they exclude and insult you,

and denounce your name as evil  on account of the Son of Man.

23 Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward

will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the

prophets  in the same way. Luke 6:22–23

There are literally countless references from the Hebrew Scriptures to Prophets being treated badly for preaching God’s word. Jeremiah who we read today was imprisoned in a most degrading way.

And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern … letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. Jeremiah 38:6

Jesus continues this message in the Gospel:

17 You will be hated by all because of my name, Luke 21:17

And this will be experienced by the Apostles in Acts:

40 After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. 41 So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. Acts 5:40–41

Luke also shows that the sufferings of Jesus and the Apostles continue with St Paul. Indeed, he expected it: “What will happen to me I do not know, except that in one city after another the holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me”. Acts 20:22b-23

Should we expect anything different?

First Reading

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feb. 17, 2019
Jeremiah 17:5-8

We return today to Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. The immediate cause of his tears is the destruction of  Jerusalem and his forced exile to Egypt in 587. Yet several weeks ago we read his call.

The word of the LORD first came to him in the days of Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign, and continued through the reign of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the downfall and exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, son of Josiah, king of Judah. Jeremiah 1:2–3

He knew from the very beginning that his life would be difficult, filled with distress and end in failure. This is not a story of suffering vindicated in any immediately human sense. The people would not listen long and hard enough for a real change of heart. That would be enough to make anyone weep.

The inherent sadness of his preaching is clearly seen in the first 13 verses of Jeremiah 17. Although this week’s reading is only 17: 5-8 ,we will examine the entire section. He begins with a striking image:

1 The sin of Judah is written

with an iron stylus,

Engraved with a diamond point

upon the tablets of their hearts.

(And the horns of their altars,

2 when their sons remember their altars and their sacred poles, beside the green trees, on the high hills, he peaks in the highland.) Jeremiah 17:1–3

Their sin is literally written in stone, deep and indelible. It is the sin of worshiping pagan gods. Thus, punishment is inevitable. Note as well “sons”. The sin is passed on to a new generation: it effects the heart.

Your wealth and all your treasures

I will give as spoil.

In recompense for all your sins

throughout your borders,


Having traded true worship for that of things, their most precious things will be given away.



5 Thus says the LORD:

Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,

who seeks his strength in flesh,

whose heart turns away from the LORD. Jeremiah 17:5 (NAB)


This is an astute observation. The immediate consequences of worshiping the god of one’s own making is the belief that our future is ultimately in our own hands. Trust in the flesh turns the heart – the whole person – away from God.

One does not have to live in a land like Judea where the desert is always threatening to feel the power of the next line:

6 He is like a barren bush in the desert

that enjoys no change of season,

But stands in a lava waste,

a salt and empty earth. Jeremiah 17:6 (NAB)

Human beings cannot supply sufficient nourishment. Contrast that with those who trust not in themselves but in God.

7 Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,

whose hope is the LORD.

8 He is like a tree planted beside the waters

that stretches out its roots to the stream:

It fears not the heat when it comes,

its leaves stay green;

In the year of drought it shows no distress,

but still bears fruit. Jeremiah 17:7–8

The person who trusts in God is not dependent on circumstances or fate but is connected to the source of counsel and strength that is everywhere. Remember that the “first edition” of Jeremiah would have been read by those in exile before the call to return home to Jerusalem


This concludes what we read today but let us continue further. We again return to the human heart: 

9 More tortuous than all else is the human heart,

beyond remedy; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9


The worship of idols has so warped the Jewish people that their wickedness is so great that only God can understand it.


10 I, the LORD, alone probe the mind

and test the heart,

To reward everyone according to his ways,

according to the merit of his deeds. Jeremiah 17:10


He alone knows what is in us. This means as well that only the prophet, the person who most closely attends to his word, understands what is really happening in the world.


11 A partridge that mothers a brood not her own

is the man who acquires wealth unjustly:

In midlife it will desert him;

in the end he is only a fool. Jeremiah 17:11


It was thought that the partridge steals the eggs of other birds and when they mature, they fly off and join their own deserting the partridge. Those who obtain their wealth unjustly will have will be abandoned by their wealth as well.

12 A throne of glory, exalted from the beginning,

such is our holy place.

13 O hope of Israel, O LORD!

all who forsake you shall be in disgrace;

The rebels in the land shall be put to shame;

they have forsaken the source of living waters (the LORD). Jeremiah 17:12–13


This is a call to right worship. We have seen what happens when worship is debased, and people turn to other gods. The passage however is truly extraordinary. Those who read it in Babylon in exile before the option to return to Jerusalem was offered might well have been bewildered by the call to hope. Yet hope is always present with God. Jeremiah’s prophetic mission was to prepare the people for purification and renewal.

Jeremiah’s ministry was long and as we have observed hard. He did not see the rebirth of his people. God’s view however is longer, and he is always with us no matter how dark the times may be. The church wisely believes that hope is one of the theological virtues. These are not earned nor developed but given by God as a gift. Hope is defined as “theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1817). It is faith that illuminates our imaginations and we certainly need it. Last week late term abortion was legalized in our state. This is distressing enough but it is truly appalling that it is celebrated by bathing a skyscraper in pink light. Is this human sacrifice for political expediency? As we prepare our taxes many will discover that the new tax code was not as advertised.  This is an eerie reminder of last week’s reading from Isaiah. Can we expect different consequences?

A great scholar condensed the thought of Martin Luther to a simple statement: “Optimism about God, Pessimism about Man.” Jeremiah would have understood, and we need to.