1st Sunday of Advent – Entering the Light

Photo by Ethan Milrad on Unsplash

In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
(Isaiah 2:2–3)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
First Sunday of Advent
Romans 13:11–14
November 27, 2022

For three of the four Sundays of Advent, our second reading will be from St. Paul’s “Letter to the Romans.” We have read this letter together many times and indeed spent an entire summer on one section. You may find our introduction to the Letter to the Romans helpful. We need only note now that Paul as a Roman citizen could not be executed as cavalierly as a non-citizen. He was being sent to Rome as a prisoner to be tried by the Emperor. The Roman prison system was somewhat haphazard, and a well-connected detainee could arrange for what would amount to house arrest. Paul needed the help of the Roman Church to do this, but he had become very controversial. This letter was at least in part his attempt to show that he was, in our terms, an orthodox believer and a stable person. It is a great gift to us because it provides Paul’s clearest attempt to present his teachings in an orderly manner.

The passages that we will read for the next two weeks are Paul’s comments on the return of Jesus and the establishment of the kingdom. This is fitting for the Advent season. Advent means “arrival or coming” We immediately think of Christmas, but the liturgy of the church focuses on this for only the last week of Advent. Until December 16, the readings and prayers look at the consequences of the return of the Lord.

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Homily – Christ the King (Fr. Smith)

Let’s take a quiz, who said:

It is obvious that in our days not only is wealth accumulated, but immense power and despotic economic domination are concentrated in the hands of a few, and that those few are frequently not the owners, but only the trustees and directors of invested funds, who administer them at their good pleasure

(Quadragesimo anno 105)

Obviously, no one who wished to be elected to any office in America would allow this to be published under his or her own name. It seems written by Karl Marx, another Communist, or some species of socialist. It was in fact Pope Pius XI in 1931. It was not an isolated statement. He wrote in the same letter (encyclical): Continue reading “Homily – Christ the King (Fr. Smith)”

Christ the King – Accepting No Substitutes

Cristo Rey (Christ the King), 1953, Cali, Colombia
(About this Image)

Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”
(Luke 23:42–43)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Solemnity of Christ the King
Colossians 1:12–20
November 20, 2022

We examined selections from the Letter to the Colossians earlier this year. Indeed, we read Colossians 1:15–20. Today we add verses 12–14 and do so on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Our emphasis previously was on the healing of the cosmos with ecological considerations. Today it will how and where Jesus leads us.
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Homily – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Smith)

I think I am going to have a productive Advent. Painful but productive and productive precisely because it will be painful. It may seem premature to speak of Advent. Although the season officially is the 4 weeks before Christmas the church prepares us with prayers and readings for the two weeks before the first Sunday of Advent. Next week we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, acknowledging that God alone can bring the kingdom. This week, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time is often called “little apocalypse” Sunday. This year we read it from Luke. It tells us why Jesus must return and the signs of his coming. This week’s election should set our minds on these matters. It will take some time to get over the ugliness of the campaign but also the increasing difficulty of finding candidates we can support without violating our consciences. This may seem apocalyptic in the way we usually use the word, dreadful and hopeless, but it is also apocalyptic in the biblical sense.

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Working Well in Preparation of the Lord’s Return

Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell there.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy,
Before the LORD who comes,
who comes to govern the earth,
To govern the world with justice
and the peoples with fairness.
(Psalms 98:7–9)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Thessalonians 3:7–12
November 13, 2022

Today, we conclude our examination of 2nd Thessalonians. As we have noted previously much of it is a mystery. We are uncertain who wrote it, to whom or when. We are certain only that the author, who may very well have been St. Paul himself, had read Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians and was very familiar with the other writings of St. Paul. He also had a distinct message or, to be more precise, two messages. Today we will examine the second message and again seek not to lose the forest for the trees.

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Homily – Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo (obs.) (Fr. Smith)

Charles Borromeo was born to be a footnote. He had all the signs of being a very important person of his time and place who would do the expected and conventional things well, be praised at his death, and then quickly forgotten. God however gave him a way to greatness.

Charles was born in 1538, the third son of the count of Arona on the southern bank of Lake Maggiore. He was destined for the church and by the age of 12 received a substantial income from church properties. As a young man, he excelled in both civil and canon law and received a doctorate at 21. Several weeks later, his uncle Cardinal Giovanni Medici, was elected Pope Pius IV and was summoned to Rome. He was made a cardinal almost immediately. This was not uncommon. Renaissance Italy was a treacherous place and only family, and not always them, could be trusted. The Pope would find his most talented nephew and bring him immediately into the papal government. As “Cardinal-Nephew” Charles was given many important duties including governing the Papal States. He also organized the third and last session of the Council of Trent which sought to reform the church. These were all signs of a safe future in every sense of the word.

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Guided by Jesus

Center stained-glass window of St. Charles Borromeo parish
(About this Image)

The Church asks us to understand that Christ,
who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again.
When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come,
at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts,
bringing with him the riches of his grace.
(Pastoral Letter of St. Charles Borromeo )

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Thessalonians 2:16–3:5
November 6, 2022

Last week, we began reading the “Second Letter to the Thessalonians” at Mass. This letter presents many complicated technical issues that may obscure a remarkably simple message about the afterlife, indeed, a very traditional one. Many Jews, most noticeably the Pharisees, believed that the Messiah would come, all the dead would rise from their graves and be divided between the good and bad. The 12 tribes of Israel would be restored and there would be an earthy reign of Justice. The early Church, most brilliantly but not exclusively St. Paul, adapted but did not fundamentally change this schema. Jesus would return, the dead would rise and be judged, but as he is more than the Messiah, all humanity would be brought into the kingdom which he would rule. Those who read this letter would have agreed with this. The problem was as Jesus has already been with us, why is he waiting so long to return and begin the kingdom and what are the consequences? A fuller account of this may be found in last week’s commentary.

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