14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Crucifying the Petty in Us

Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
(Luke 10:2)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Galatians 6:14–18
July 3, 2022

This week, we read the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul is writing with great emotion and has let his guard down. As with 2nd Corinthians, which we read earlier in the year, he will reveal much about himself. Some of this is admittedly unseemly, but they also show a man who loves God and is fiercely protective of the churches he founded.

He was protecting them from what we now call “Judaizing Christians.” These were people who came from Jerusalem and taught that the communities baptized by Paul needed to become more Jewish. The men should be circumcised, and all adopt Torah laws. They had many reasons for this, and Paul answered them throughout the letter. As he concludes, he brings to the fore a disease which would have been in the back of his readers’ minds: Jews were a protected class in the Empire. They alone did not have to offer sacrifice to the emperor. For others failure to do so was a capital crime.

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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Leading Us into the World

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
(Luke 9:58)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Galatians 5:1, 13–18
June 26, 2022

This Wednesday, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. As we read today from the letter of Paul to the Galatians, we should take to heart Peter’s comment about Paul’s writings: “There are some things in them that are hard to understand.” We need however also remember that Paul was the first intellect of genius to explore the consequences of Jesus’s death and resurrection for himself and for his congregations. These were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles who lived in many places with many cultures. He can, as we have seen repeatedly, become somewhat convoluted so it is refreshing when he is moved by emotion and speaks more clearly. We may lose some precision, but we see more of the forest for the trees. That occurred when we read a sad, indeed depressed, Paul in 2 Corinthians and we will see it today with a very angry Paul in Galatians.

The sections that we will read this and next week, however, are quite gentle and encouraging but we must look at what came before.

Galatia is not a city but an area in Asia Minor (near Ankura in modern Turkey) Paul had lived there and was treated quite well. He taught the people and thought they were well prepared when he left. He discovered however afterwards that other missionaries, perhaps claiming to have been sent by the apostles in Jerusalem, had come to Galatia and told the people that Paul’s teaching was incomplete because he did not require circumcision and other signs of being fully Jewish. Paul feels betrayed and hurt for himself but more concerned for the salvation of his flock and in this letter blasts his opponents personally and demolishes their arguments intellectually.

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Corpus Christi – Acting Like Jesus Every Day

The  Last Supper, Fritz von Uhde,
1886, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
(About this Image)

In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
(1 Corinthians 11:25)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Corpus Christi
1 Cor 11:23–26
June 19, 2022

This week, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus. Our second reading is from the 1st letter of St Paul to the Corinthians. We read this letter earlier this year and a general overview can be found in the commentary for January 16, 2022.

This section is especially important for our time but not perhaps for the reasons we may think.

We will first examine the kind of gathering that forms the basis of this meal, then how Jesus changed it and finally how it was abused. We can then see the power and eternal value of Paul’s message.

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Most Holy Trinity – Homily (Fr. Smith)

Some of the most satisfying experiences of my life have been in community organizing but I must admit that I was never a first-rate organizer.  Nonetheless I was invited to meetings for which, by most measures, I was not qualified to attend. I eventually realized that it was because I had some grounding in Catholic Social Teaching and it was thought important to have it represented, I agree and discovered that what we as Catholics have to offer is that our teachings are based on our understanding of the Trinity. The Trinity affects every aspect of our view of society, but we will only look at two: where do human rights come from and how should they be implemented? But first let us look at why we need to start with Trinity. 

The Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity tells us that all we know of God is that he exists in relationship and that those relationships are sustained by love. “To be” and “to love” are the same. (#1, see below) The Church asks us to look at our own lives, are we not formed by who we love, by our own relationships? The Catholic insight is that because of the Trinity this is not a primarily psychological or sociological insight but a theological and metaphysical one. The universe reflects its creator, and its central reality is that we exist as humans because we can form loving relationships. (#2, see below) 

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Holy Trinity Sunday – Ministry of Service

The Trinity, Andrei Rublev
1411 or 1425–27, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
(About this Image)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Most Holy Trinity
Romans 5:1–5
June 12, 2022

This week, we celebrate the solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, and the church has chosen a selection from the letter of Paul to the Romans as our second reading. We looked at Romans in some detail two years ago and will not review the background again for this passage. (You may find the earlier commentary at Introduction to the Letter to the Romans.) Paul’s style may be somewhat convoluted for our taste, but this passage is well worth following to a most satisfactory indeed inspiring conclusion.

Besides decidedly Pauline themes, we will find some areas of connection with the Gospel readings from St. John of last few weeks. We begin with “Therefore” and can be relatively certain that a conclusion follows. In this case, Paul has developed the concept of justification for four chapters and in chapter five, which we read today, he will tell us the benefits of being justified. Briefly and superficially justified means that a person has a relationship with God. The Greek word from which it derives, dikaiosunē, means righteousness. We are made righteous by the death and resurrection of Jesus. For Catholics, this is a process that requires being led by the Spirit and thus is a this worldly and in that sense very practical experience.

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Pentecost – Filled with the Holy Spirit

Detail of Holy Spirit Hole,
Saints Peter and Paul, Söll, Austria
(About this Image)

And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
(Acts 2:2–4)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the First Reading
Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1–11
June 5, 2022

We celebrate this week the feast of Pentecost. It is a Jewish feast indeed one of the great pilgrimage feasts when Jews were encouraged to go to Jerusalem and offer sacrifice. It was originally a harvest celebration but quickly became connected with the Exodus and the giving of the Law. Pentecost means 50 and it is celebrated by Jews 50 days after the Passover and commemorates Moses bringing the law to the people.

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7th Sunday of Easter – Homily (Fr. Smith)

We began this week with a senseless killing of a man on a subway many of us use, going to brunch, which many of us do. It continued with the murder of young children and their teachers in a school in Texas. This is after the racially motivated killings in Buffalo the week before and the background violence of the suicides of working-class white men and gay teens of all colors. There is a dispiritingly futile debate on why this is and what can be done. Can we as Christians add something beyond echoing the horror? 

I think we can, and St. John today shows us both what we have to offer and why we may not do it. But before we get to St. John, let us look at St. Paul and then what we mean by love.

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