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)”

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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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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Homily – 31st Sunday Ordinary Time (Fr. Smith)

The image of the Good Shepherd is universally beloved. Christians see Jesus seeking out a stray. This was the most popular statue of Jesus in the ancient world partially because Romans used the image of carrying a sheep for Apollo caring for his devotees. A Christian could go to a sculptor and ask for an Apollo with lamb without causing suspicion. Jews saw the dutiful Shepherd as a sign of divine rule and care as we know from the 23rd Psalm. Also, the prophet Ezekiel used the image of the bad shepherd as the ultimate condemnation of the leaders of Jerusalem. These are particularly powerful passages and many of Jesus’ original listeners would have thought they condemned Jesus for reaching out to Zacchaeus. Luke would have understood this feeling, used it and we can understand the power of this passage only if we do as well.

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Homily – 30th Sunday Ordinary Time (Fr. Smith)

We read so much about the Pharisees in the New Testament that it is easy to forget that during Jesus’ ministry they were not the only nor even the most powerful Jewish sect. Scholars tell us that they have such a prominent place in the New Testament because the Pharisees were the only organized group of Jews that survived the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. They were in effect our only Jewish competition. The Pharisees were serious and thoughtful people with noble aspirations. They sought to bind everything they did in the day to God. Perhaps then a more important reason the Pharisees are mentioned so often in the New Testament is that Jesus, the gospel writers, and Paul saw them not only as competition but as a warning. The corruption of the best is the worst and Christians who also sought to give their entire lives to God could fall into the same trap.

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Homily – 29th Sunday Ordinary Time (Fr. Smith)

On first reading, today’s parable may seem uneventful. The widow does not strike the judge nor does the judge change and become just. He is more like the rich man in the story of Lazarus (16:19-31) who goes cluelessly to hell than Zacchaeus who repents and becomes a disciple (19:1-10). There is no movement either externally or internally. That indeed is the point and gives the parable its weight and power. 

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Homily – 27th Sunday Ordinary Time (Fr. Smith)

The stories of Jesus revealed his world with great, if painful, clarity. His world is unlike our world. In his world fathers love prodigally, in our world love is more transactional. In his world energy and creativity are directed towards evangelization, in our world financial success is supreme. In His world, the marginalized are rewarded, in ours ignored. To accept his world is not to alter but to overturn our lives. Today’s gospel on first reading may seem to confirm our general worldview and be oddly comforting.” Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink”. Luke is, however, a devious writer and there is a typically disconcerting message in this reading.

 

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