22nd Sunday Ordinary Time – Fr. Smith homily

At the beginning of the summer the priests of the diocese held a dinner for Bishop Di Marzio’s  75th birthday. The committee that organized it sat the priests according to year of ordination with the most newly ordained priests and the most senior sitting with the Bishop. Truly an elegant solution to a potentially difficult situation. Yet isn’t it interesting that it is a persistent problem. Eating together is such a sign of intimacy and harmony that the Bible uses it as an image of the kingdom of God yet so often it reflects people’s attempts to assert power and position. Luke today is showing us what is at stake and what we can do 

This is the third time that Jesus has accepted an invitation to eat with Pharisees on the Sabbath in Luke’s gospel. (See Luke 7:36, 11:37) It did not go well either time and it presumably will not be particularly pleasant this time out. The passage today opens with:  

On a sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. (Lk 14:1) 

They were so carefully observing him because previously he cured people at the meal on the Sabbath. This was a violation of Jewish law. This is also the case here, but our reading today skips over it. Let us for a moment however examine this passage 

A man, presumably a guest, is suffering from dropsy. This is edema or swelling caused by excess fluid.  As this is a chronic condition and not an emergency, Jesus could have told him to come back the next day to be cured but instead he cures him immediately. Celebrating a meal with Jesus cures and frees anyone humble enough to ask. Luke may be so specific with the disease because dropsy is often occasioned by great thirst and so the victim will drink more water which only makes it worse. It was used as a metaphor for greed, in this case the insatiable desire of the Pharisees for honor and position. Would they ask to be healed or even know that they needed it?  Continue reading “22nd Sunday Ordinary Time – Fr. Smith homily”

22nd Sunday Ordinary Time – Anti-Nicomachean Ethics

Before the Banquet, Francis Chin, 2012

First Reading
September 1, 2019
Sirach 3:17-18, 28-29 

We return today to the book of Sirach. We read from this book a few months ago and called him one of the great virtually unsung heroes of Judaism. Ben Sira lived in Jerusalem in about 200BC. By this time, the Jews had been under direct foreign domination for over 300 years. First by the Assyrians and then by the descendants of the great Greek general Alexander. The beliefs of the Jews were radically different from their occupiers and, although there was little direct persecution, there was pressure to conform to Greek mores. This was particularly true of the elites. The sons of wealthy and well-placed Jewish families who associated with wealthy and important Assyrians then Greek leaders were particularly tempted to take on foreign ways.

Ben Sira, better known as Sirach, was the teacher of these aristocratic scions. He understood the teachings of the day both the traditional “Wisdom” of the East and the philosophy of the West, i.e. the Greeks. He admired some of it and assimilated where he could, but he understood very clearly that ultimately wisdom or philosophy were incompatible with authentic Judaism. Continue reading “22nd Sunday Ordinary Time – Anti-Nicomachean Ethics”

21st Sunday Ordinary Time – 11:15 am (Fr Smith homily)

 Transcript:

Luke 13:22-30 

It is said that familiarity breeds contempt, but in religion it might better be said that it breeds presumption. Although rarely stated, it is easy to believe that knowing about God is the same as really knowing Him. The prophets without exception tell us that having a mastery of laws and customs – and even being actively involved in liturgical practices – can make one look religious but does automatically connect one to God.  Today, Luke shows us what this really means.   Continue reading “21st Sunday Ordinary Time – 11:15 am (Fr Smith homily)”

20th Sunday Ordinary Time – 11:15 AM (Fr. Smith Homily)

Last week’s Gospel spoke of the Master who returned to his household at an unexpected time and will need to reward or punish his servants. His measure is simple, “Are they doing their regular tasks justly and carefully?” This story is universally relevant to all followers of Jesus. The good disciple is one who builds up Jesus’ household, the church, most dutifully. So important is this that he will serve them – hopefully us – a wonderful meal. For the Jews this would have been especially significant as they believed the time of the Messiah was best seen as a great feast. Continue reading “20th Sunday Ordinary Time – 11:15 AM (Fr. Smith Homily)”

19th Sunday Ordinary Time – 11:15 am (Fr. Smith homily)

Podcast transcript:

That young men would take up deadly force against innocent people is shocking and horrifying, but as a pattern is it all that surprising? The one common factor – other than being young and male – is that they have been loners. They are detached from society in general, but also even splinter groups of like-minded people. This is unusual in our history. Aging baby boomers like myself may remember the rash of bombings and politically motivated robberies in the 1970’s. Members of the Weather Underground or the Symbionese Liberation Army – however alienated from the general society – were at least able to join together in small groups. This seems to be no longer the case: we are dealing with people who belong to nothing. This is a more general trend in the whole society. We see attendance in churches declining, but also in civic organizations and even bowling leagues and the Boy Scouts. To rework a somewhat familiar saying, “A person who belongs to nothing will believe in anything.” As a church, we should be a home for all. St. Luke today shows us how.  Continue reading “19th Sunday Ordinary Time – 11:15 am (Fr. Smith homily)”