Third Sunday of Advent – Loving in Our Communities

Saint John the Baptist preaching in the Wilderness, Pier Francesco Mola, c1640, National Gallery (UK)

Isaiah: 35:1–6a, 10
Dec 15, 2019

We read a section of this passage last year, and we can review the key parts quickly. Although chapters 1–39, were generally written by first Isaiah in the 8th century BC, chapters 34 and 35 were composed by second Isaiah around 520 BC. Chapter 34 describes the destruction of the Edomites. This was a tribe which had land issues with the returning Jews. The imagery is very brutal:

their slain shall be cast out,
their corpses shall send up a stench;
The mountains shall run with their blood,
and all the hills shall rot;
The heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll,
and all their host shall wither away,
As the leaf wilts on the vine,
or as the fig withers on the tree.

(Isaiah 34:3–4)

It is so strongly written to emphasize the fairness and justice of the LORD. He has punished the Jews with exile and the destruction of the temple for their disobedience and he will do the same to their enemies for unjust aggression. He is LORD of all.

The imagery that we find in today’s reading from chapter 35 is intentionally similar and in some cases almost identical with sections of Isaiah 40–55. As we have seen repeatedly, the Jewish leaders in exile in Babylon were given the opportunity to return to the devastated Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. In exchange, they were to administer the area for the Assyrians. Enough went to make it worthwhile. Let us first look at how close the language is in these passages, then why it is placed where it is and finally what this can teach us: Continue reading “Third Sunday of Advent – Loving in Our Communities”

St. Saviour’s Academy

St. Charles is linked to St. Saviour’s School in Park Slope. I will be attending an open house this Tuesday, December 17 at 9 AM. St. Saviour’s was my first assignment as a Priest 40 years ago. I revisit older assignments rarely and I think this is my first time back in over 20 years. I hope that some of you may be able to join me. If you cannot, I will ask any questions you may have. So far, I have been asked to discover:

  1. How much is Prospect Park used, especially for athletic events?
  2. To what museums and other cultural activities are the students brought? Are they involved with any of the programs in the Brooklyn Museum?
  3. What kind of transportation can be arranged?
  4. How is it Catholic?
  5. What is the process for entering in middle school?
  6. What competitive high schools have the graduates attended?

Christmas Gift Appeal – Gift Cards for St. Vincent Scholars

This Christmas once again, our parish is partnering with HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services College Program to provide gift cards for 75 to 100 young people who are cycling out of foster care and will very likely not receive any gifts for Christmas this year.

We will be hosting a group of the young folks from St. Vincent’s at the Nativity Pageant Mass this Sunday when we will present them with gift cards for the group.

You can donate to this very worthy parish effort and help to bring Christmas joy to our young friends online at Please note that we only have a few days left to collect for the cards, so if you would like to contribute, don’t delay! We would be very grateful for contributions of any amount.

Thank you for your generosity and thoughtfulness.

2nd Sunday of Advent – Fr. Smith homily

This week we will take up the collection for the retired religious who served in our diocese. It is one of the many second collections mandated during the year. As some people have noted, it is one of very few that we advertise extensively and, along with the collection for the Holy Land on Good Friday, the only one for which I write a letter to the parish requesting generosity. There is, not unsurprisingly, a story here.

Like all the collections it is for a good cause. The proceeds support the orders of sisters, brothers and priests who are not part of a diocese. It is a national collection taken in every diocese for the entire country. We must remember that these people took a vow of poverty but with the assumption that their basic needs would be taken care of by the Catholic community. If there was any retirement plan, it would have been that the orders would keep growing: creating a built-in support system. This did not occur and they need our help.

I have a more personal reason and one that illuminates today’s reading indeed the very presence and purpose of St. John the Baptist.

Continue reading “2nd Sunday of Advent – Fr. Smith homily”