4th Sunday Lent – Fr. Gribowich Homily

Good morning, once again. I know this is so unusual for many of us to have to be experiencing that this way, so thank you for being patient with us and we’re learning as we go here, as well.

And of course I haven’t seen you in a long time – and I still don’t see you now –  so I can kind of empathize with the blind man that we hear in our gospel today. So to be back in Brooklyn, to be able to be part of the St. Charles community is always a very great blessing for me ,and to not actually have you in the same physical spaces, of course a very trying thing for me, and I’m sure it is for you, too.

So we are together, united through what may take place here at this Mass through the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ comes to us in three ways: of course, we experience the Body of Christ by meditating upon the body that was nailed to the cross and rose from the dead. Continue reading “4th Sunday Lent – Fr. Gribowich Homily”

4th Sunday of Lent – Addressing the Real Needs of Our Time

Samuel Anoints David, François Victor Eloi Biennourry, 1841, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

Fourth Sunday of Lent
1 Samuel 16:1B, 6–7, 10–13a
March 22, 2020

The relationship between King Saul and the Prophet Samuel is one of the most interesting in the Old Testament. The tensions are always there, but the reasons are hidden under a veneer of piety. Its relevance to our present situation as a church may indeed be obscured for the same reason.

Our opening line this week says:

The LORD said to Samuel: “How long will you grieve for Saul,
whom I have rejected as king of Israel?
Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
(1 Samuel 16:1)

It may seem that Samuel was fond of Saul as the LORD asks him how long will he grieve for him. Yet in the next verse (Sa. 2a), Samuel tells the Lord: “How can I go? Saul will hear of it and kill me. With friends like this who needs enemies?” Continue reading “4th Sunday of Lent – Addressing the Real Needs of Our Time”

3rd Sunday of Lent – Fr. Smith’s Homily

Christ and the Woman of Samaria, Rembrandt and student, c. 1655 (Met. Museum of Art, New York)

(The text of today’s Gospel, John 4:5–26, 39–42, can be found online).

The disciples were no doubt asking why they were in Samaria. Geographically Samaria is between Galilee to the north and Judea (Jerusalem) to the south. Obviously, it was easier to travel directly through it to get from Galilee to Judea but the Judeans (Jews of Judea and Galilee) and the Samaritans hated each other so much that it was a dangerous journey. This was a consequence of a centuries-old Assyrian colonization plan. After the death of King Solomon, the Kingdom of David split into the Kingdom of  Israel in the North and Judea to the South. The Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC. Their policy was to replace a significant percentage of native people with immigrants from other nations. They would intermarry and be more dependent on Assyria than the memory of what was there before. These foreigners adopted many Israelite customs but were never accepted by the Judeans (Jews) and there was always conflict between them. Although their religious practices were quite similar, the major issue was where sacrifice was to occur: for the Samaritans: Mt Gerizim; for the Jews: Mt Zion. To inflame things even further, the Jewish King John Hyrcanus destroyed the Samaritan temple in 129B C. So now the disciples find themselves in enemy territory in the heat of the day with no food. Continue reading “3rd Sunday of Lent – Fr. Smith’s Homily”

2nd Sunday Lent – Fr. Smith Homily

The scripture readings for Lenten Masses are well chosen and effective. They are listed in the parish bulletin and I suggest that you read them beforehand. This is a wonderful way to enrich your experience of MassThe prayers, however, are also beautiful and can teach us a great deal. Today in the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer, that is the prayer said immediately before the Holy, Holy, Holy, we will hear: ‘for after he had told his disciples of his coming death, on the holy mountain he manifested himself to them in his glory… to show that the Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection”. This refers to the passage before todays selection. They are connected by a common theme, the same characters but also by the experience of fear. Let us look at the last item. 

We come upon Jesus and the disciples at a rather frustrating time for Jesus.  He has been preaching to large crowds, but they have failed to understand his message. This is understandable. I doubt I would have understood Him in their place. Jesus was self-consciously fulfilling all the requirements of the Messiah but in completely unexpected and for most people incomprehensible ways. It is therefore remarkable that when he asked the disciples who they thought He was Peter, always the spokesman, responded “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” Jesus recognized that this insight came from the Father and told his disciples that he “must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. (Mt 16: 21)   Continue reading “2nd Sunday Lent – Fr. Smith Homily”

2nd Sunday of Lent – Increasing the Depth of Abraham’s Blessing

Transfiguration (upper portion), Raphael, 1516-1520, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican.
(About This Image)

Genesis 12: 1–4a
March 8, 2020

The book of Genesis is divided into two major sections. Genesis chapters 1–11 are legendary or mythic. They may use individual people, but their stories speak to the human condition e.g. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah. Genesis chapters 12–50 chronicle the very specific rise of the clan of Abraham and the consequences for the Jewish people and indeed human history. Today’s reading is the very beginning of this section but before examining it we must first look at the transitional passage that precedes it.

After Noah and his family left the ark, they multiplied over the generations and feeling themselves powerful said:

“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky,
and so make a name for ourselves;
otherwise, we shall be scattered all over the earth.”
(Ge 11:4)

This is of course the city of Babel. For their presumption to “make a name for themselves,” the tribes were scattered. One of those tribes was that of Shem. We are given a very lengthy genealogy of the family which begins with Ge. 11:11 and ends with “Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran became the father of Lot. (Ge. 11:27). Continue reading “2nd Sunday of Lent – Increasing the Depth of Abraham’s Blessing”

1st Sunday Lent – Fr. Smith Homily

Moses is the hidden presence behind Matthew’s Gospel. His name may not be often spoken but there are passages in the Gospel which can only be fully understood by a reference to him. During the Christmas season we read about the slaughter of this innocents. (Mt 2:13-18) Understanding that and indeed the entire story of the flight into Egypt clearly depends upon knowing the details of the birth of Moses. Less obvious, but just as important, are the references to Moses in the visit of the Magi. (Mt 2:1-12) As we read the Gospel of Matthew throughout the year, we will find the presence of Moses hidden in plain sight. Nowhere is this more important than in today’s reading of the testing of Jesus. 

Let us look at the background. In the section before today’s, Jesus has emerged from the baptismal waters of the Jordan just as the Israelites had gone through the waters of the Red Sea and both find themselves in the desert. Jesus spends 40 days in the desert; the Israelites 40 years, but it is a time of testing for both. Matthew tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit and the book of Exodus (Es 13:31) relates that the Jews were led by the “pillar of cloud and fire”. The great difference is that the Israelites were in the desert because of their sins. Although they had been the beneficiary of deliverance by God from the Egyptians, they rebelled – even fashioning a golden calf for worship. Therefore, they would not receive the promised reward of possession of the land that flowed with milk and honey until they made penance for their sins. They were given a mission from the LORD and for them to be His people, they would need to embrace it. The route from Egypt to Canaan would have taken no more than a few months to complete if distance were the only issue, but it would take 40 years because of their attitude  Continue reading “1st Sunday Lent – Fr. Smith Homily”

First Sunday of Lent – What Follows from Obedience to the Will of God

The Rebuke of Adam and Eve, Domenichino, 1626, National Gallery of Art (Washington)
(About this image)

Genesis 2:7–9; 3:1–7
March 1, 2020

Our first reading today is from the book of Genesis. It is often called the story of the creation of Adam but is more accurately depicts the formation and then dissolution of the perfect community.

This creation story is one of two in Genesis and, although placed second, was written earlier. The narrative we read first was written by priests and is concerned with how the Jewish people were to connect to the Cosmos. (Ge. 1) Today’s passage however describes the relationship that God wishes to establish with us and assures us that it was forged at the very beginning of time. The first version of this text was most likely written at the beginning of the Davidic Dynasty. (c. 1,000 BC) and is a call to the king to restore the God-given order. It then became part of the expectation of the Messiah.

This section begins with a desolate world while “as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted.” (Ge. 2:5a) To be fruitful, it needed rain and someone to care for the land. First came the water “but a stream was welling up out of the earth and was watering all the surface of the ground” (Ge. 5:6) then, the point where we begin today: Continue reading “First Sunday of Lent – What Follows from Obedience to the Will of God”