A Note on Our Financial Report
I would like to thank the members of the parish who read the Financial Report. It is important that we understand where our donations are going. As I noted last year, and some people have commented this year, the budget does not have a line for the poor or indeed any outside agency or activity. This does not reflect a lack of interest, but rather our difficulty in breaking even with regular expenses. This can be addressed more directly when the renovation of the Church is completed but that, alas, is years away.
Until then, I have a suggestion, a policy change and a request.
Please give to the Annual Diocesan Appeal. The money collected does not go to the general fund of the Diocese but to the programs and agencies specifically listed. These include the obvious, e.g. Catholic Charities and Migration Services, and the important things that can remain hidden; e.g., Hospital Chaplains and the care of elderly Diocesan Priests. These are all areas which we as a Parish might wish to donate, and may one day do so, but now we must depend on the generosity and compassion of our members as individuals. We have always met our goal, and in this time of confusion and need, I pray that we will do so again.
The money in our poor boxes and from the candles is put aside for charitable purposes. There has been no set policy on how it is dispensed. Originally, they were both to be given to the St Vincent de Paul Society. As we do not have a SVD chapter, the monies will be collected and given each month to Catholic Charities of Brooklyn & Queens, directed by Msgr. Al. They are the professionals and will be able to put it to better use than my guessing what might be a good use.
Before we distributed the financial report, the Parish Council shared the “Pastoral Plan for St Charles Borromeo”. It is very well thought out and will add much to our parish and community. Some of the items, however, are not in our budget and although we had savings in a few areas, the repairs on the rectory are continuing. In order to finance these ideas, the PPC will be writing to you to ask for an Easter Donation for pastoral activities. They will be specific, and we ask you to be generous.
Nick Strachovsky, KOW Building Consultants
Parish Construction Representative/Manager
I am very pleased to welcome spring back to Brooklyn Heights. The warmer weather will bring about a much-anticipated increase in speed of work. The new gutters are in the process of being replaced. Some roof deck repair work was discovered and is being completed. At the tower, the statue area and the louvers are being re-supported and repaired and the exterior sand stone and brownstone is being repaired and painted. This work will increase pace over the next few weeks with portions of scaffold coming down as it is done from top to bottom. We are hoping to begin to see some of the highest levels come down in the next few months. Masonry pointing and repair is slated to begin again April 1. Window repair and stained glass repair will also begin. Roof replacement is mostly complete at the sloped slate roof. The flat roof areas are scheduled to be completed once the brick in those areas is completely restored. The restoration team is running smoothly with very good communication between the architect and contractor. We are looking forward to a productive spring.
Third Sunday of Lent
March 24, 2019
Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
The Pentateuch – or first five books of the Bible – form the great Jewish national epic. As we have seen, it was composed of laws and proclamations but mostly stories handed down for a millennium before being committed to a written edition around 500 BC. It showed the people who had themselves endured captivity in Babylon that their God was alive, caring, and powerful beyond human expectation and measure. Today’s selection from the Book of Exodus expresses a key moment in this epic. It does so, however, in a way that for us is very disconnected.
The original audience would have understood the underlying unity and the reason for it. The deepest scar on the Jewish psyche was the loss of the Northern Kingdom, Israel, to the Assyrians in 721 BC. Their deepest hope was that God would anoint someone to reunite all the people. Messiah and Christ both mean “Anointed One” and this was one of his prime responsibilities. Therefore, the authors of the Pentateuch took great pains to bring in materials from not only north and south, but different theological positions as well. We have already seen that there are several stories of creation; we find the same here with the call of Moses. This extends from Exodus 2:23 to 4:17. Every element of this call is repeated twice.
This need not directly concern us. The most important element is that God remembered his covenant:
23 A long time passed, during which the king of Egypt died. Still the Israelites groaned and cried out because of their slavery. As their cry for release went up to God, 24 he heard their groaning and was mindful of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 25 He saw the Israelites and knew… Exodus 2:23–25
The situation of the Israelites was not the result of one bad pharaoh, but would be continual. “Remembered” does not indicate that God forgot, but that now he would give it his full attention. This is active, not passive – something would be done. The covenant with Abraham, which we discussed last week, is permanent, and God is always connected to his people.
Again, as we saw last week, the Jews could not understand themselves without prophecy and convent. Despite the repetition and – for us – other extraneous diversions, the authors bring this together very clearly today.
Note that Moses is called in the manner of a prophet. We have seen before the calls of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The parallels with Isaiah are particularly striking: angels, fire, fear and a sense of the Holy. We should see the Burning Bush in this light as well: God’s call to Moses as prophet and leader.
God shows himself as the God who revealed himself to Abraham and made the covenant with him:
6 I am the God of your father,” he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”. Exodus 3:6
The prophet’s words and actions always refer to the Covenant. They do not proclaim philosophical and theological principles, but the experience of the God who had entered their lives and history.
He will not permit them to be slaves to anyone; they will be freed from the Egyptians and given a new land of their own. Moses asked:
13 “But,” said Moses to God, “when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” 14 God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.” Exodus 3:13–14
There is an understanding of this passage that believes that two traditions are represented. One finds the revelation of God in history, and another which is more philosophical and speaks of the being of God. This is appealing as the key word here is “I AM”. Nevertheless, it is inexact, and comes from the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek around 200 BC. Some of the sense of the Hebrew word for “Being” as a dynamic reality was lost. In Hebrew, “Being” means a concrete, active, and powerfully effective existence.
Cardinal Walter Kasper in his book “Mercy” draws out the consequences of this.
The revelation of God’s name constitutes his promise: I am “the one who I am there” . I am with you in your distress and I will accompany you on your way, … The revelation of God’s name is immediately connected with the ratification of God’s Covenant with the Patriarchs.
It was thought that to know someone’s name was to have power over them. All that God will tell us is that all that we need to know is that he is with us and will be so for all time.
15 God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. “This is my name forever; this is my title for all generations. Exodus 3:15
Cardinal Kasper asks us to look at one other time that God appears to Moses. Moses had left the Israelites and gone up the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments. In his absence, the people formed and worshipped the Golden Calf. On his return, Moses broke the original tablets with the commandments and went up Mt. Sinai to obtain new ones.
5 Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with him there and proclaimed his name, “LORD.” 6 Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out, “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, 7 continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, Exodus 34:5–6 (NAB)
Whatever we come to believe about God and our relationship to Him, the key must always be that he is faithful to His Covenant, and in that faithfulness, we will experience mercy for a thousand generations.