2nd Sunday Ordinary Time – Lord of Time; King of Now

Food Pantry
As a result of the Government Shutdown, many federal employees (including our own parishioners) have had to resort to food pantries and other meal support. If the shutdown continues through February, SNAP/Food Stamps will not be distributed in March, which will place even more people in need. 

Catholic Charities’s food supplies have been particularly depleted over the past week. Msgr. LoPinto has asked us to make an emergency appeal for canned food donations. Please bring your donations to the back of the church after Mass or you may bring them to the Rectory during the week. Alternatively, you can donate online at https://stcharlesbklyn.weshareonline.org/CatholicCharitiesFoodPantry . 100% of your donation will be used for Catholic Charities’ Food Pantry.

If you are in need of food, visit the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in our parish at 191 Joralemon Street, 1st Floor (around the corner from the Church) on Thursdays from 9:30 AM – 3 PM. A list of other Catholic Charities’ sites and times of operation are at https://www.ccbq.org/what-we-do/taxonomy/term/13/food-pantry-services.

Sergio Sandi – Beethoven Sonatas Recital – Saturday, January 19th, 7:30 PM at the church.
Suggested donation $10. See here for more information.

Meet & Greets – Sunday, January 27 after each Mass
Our next Meet & Greets will be next Sunday, January 27. We will be offering coffee and breakfast after the 9 and 11:15 AM Masses, and wine and cheese after the 7 PM Mass. Please join us for hospitality and fellowship!

Bishop’s Visit – Sunday, February 3, 9 AM
Bishop DiMarzio will be visiting St. Charles on Sunday, February 3rd, and will be celebrating the 9 AM Mass that day. Please join us to welcome him together as a parish community that morning. While we will still have the 11:15 AM and 7 PM Masses as usual, it’s also Super Bowl Sunday, so perhaps the 9 AM Mass will best fit your schedule that day.

Winter Storm Warning
Snow, ice, and high winds are forecast for Saturday night and Sunday. We anticipate all Masses and activities to be held as scheduled, but please take into account your personal safety in your travel decisions.


First Reading

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 62:1-5


Today’s reading from Isaiah is remarkably uplifting poetry, all the more amazing in that it is essentially a motivational talk to encourage the Judeans to plant crops and pay taxes. It is, though, more powerful than that.

We have read Isaiah many times in Advent and Christmastide and have discovered that several people used the name, and the one we read today wrote around 500 BC from Jerusalem. He was among the Jewish leaders who accepted the invitation of King Cyrus of Persia to leave Babylon and return to a devastated Jerusalem. When there, they could rebuild their temple and nation. Whatever romantic illusions they may have had were set to rest by the realities. Funding was never as great as they desired, those who took over the land in their absence –the Samaritans – were first suspicious and then hostile and the sheer extent of the task proved very discouraging. They were also reminded that they were a very small part of a very large empire which demanded taxes for its treasury and food for its soldiers.

In the section immediately after what we read today, we hear:

8 The LORD has sworn by his right hand

and by his mighty arm:

No more will I give your grain

as food to your enemies;

Nor shall foreigners drink your wine,

for which you toiled.

9 But you who harvest the grain shall eat it,

and you shall praise the LORD;

You who gather the grapes shall drink the wine

in the courts of my sanctuary. Isaiah 62:8–9


From this we may infer that the food grown by the newly restored Judeans was taken by the Persian authorities, and Isaiah is assuring them that God will help them.

Today, we hear Isaiah call to his people.

 For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,

 and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

 until her vindication emerges in brightness,

 and her salvation as a flaming torch


He is repeating the familiar idea of reversal.  The Jews were once captive but will now be so changed that they will need a new name:

Nations shall behold your vindication,

and all kings your glory;

You shall be called by a new name

pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.

3 You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,

a royal diadem held by your God.

4 No more shall men call you “Forsaken,”

or your land “Desolate,” Isaiah 62:2–4


Yet not any new name, Jerusalem will become the “wife” of God himself:


But you shall be called “My Delight,”

and your land “Espoused.”

For the LORD delights in you,

and makes your land his spouse.

5 As a young man marries a virgin,

your Builder shall marry you;

And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride

so shall your God rejoice in you. Isaiah 62:5

Isaiah is telling his people that that they must deepen their understanding of their relationship with God. It is not a contract or an arrangement. It is a covenant in the deepest sense: God and his people will share a common life. This is the motivation to continue to rebuild the temple and reestablish the people: a call to the deepest intimacy,

This has taken on a very contemporary resonance. The (ongoing) shutdown of government has many people, including some of our own parishioners, working at very critical jobs without pay. As these are people with options – indeed may have taken a reduction in salary to serve the public sector – we should thank them for their service, but still might wonder – why they are doing this? Some I would assume are responding to a vision that motivates them to do more than what makes common sense. There are, thank God, people in every age who do.

This week we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Every biography of Dr King notes the shear amount of detail work he had to do to accomplish his goals. By any purely rational calculus he and those who followed him were squandering their lives. Yet, he articulated a vision that made it seem not only a reasonable, but a natural course of action.

I reread Dr King’s “Letter form a Birmingham Jail” every year at this time. It is addressed to well-meaning white clergymen who felt that Dr King was impatient and that as he was on the right side of history, he only had to wait. One favorite section below is a reminder to all of us in a difficult time about inevitably:

“… The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

When we hear a prophet like Isaiah or MLK, we need to ask about our own vision both as individuals and as a Parish. Both knew that God was on their side, but that if He was kind and merciful, they must be just and wise. Scripture says: “Where there is not vision the people die”. (Proverbs 29:18) This is a diagnosis, but also a prescription. It requires us to look at what we believe, but for the prophets emerging from the Hebrew bible, it requires us to examine how closely our vision compares to the Word of God. If the vision is ours alone, we shall be both desolate and forsaken; if it is God’s, we shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by our God.

Baptism of the Lord – The Other Epiphanies We Need

The Epiphanies 

Epiphany derives from a Greek word for “making manifest or shining forth”. We celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany last Sunday with the commemoration of the Three Kings. Here, Jesus is revealed, “made manifest’, to the world. Yet, there are other events in which He also shines forth. The Church has recognized this by celebrating two other “Epiphanies”. In the “Baptism of the Lord” which we celebrate this weekend, the voice of the Father comes from heaven and says: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”. Here, Jesus is acknowledged as a member of the Trinity. The third is the first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana. Here, the power of Jesus to heal is proclaimed, but also the realization that the clearest manifestation of his reality will not be seen until his death and resurrection. We will read this next week. In the present selection of readings, this order is maintained only in Year C and so we will not celebrate the three Epiphanies again for another three years. I ask you to think about these manifestations, and ask yourselves when Jesus has shined in your own lives. To recognize this in Church, a few Christmas trees will be left in the Sanctuary, and the recessional hymn at Mass next week will be “Joy to the World”.

First Reading:

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

Jan 13, 2019


The return of the Jewish leaders to Jerusalem was obviously an important event for the Jews. Isaiah, who has a wider view of history, shows us in today’s reading that we must also see it from the perspective of “world” history, God cannot move without disruption. To understand this, we must begin with Chapter 41.

Isaiah is creating a trial scene in which God is the prosecuting attorney and judge. The first case is “who liberated the Jewish People?” As we proceed, note that the proper scriptural passages are placed on the side but only a small section is written out. Hebrew poetry is a bit repetitive to our ears.

Summons to trail 1 41:1

Keep silence before me, O coastlands;

you peoples, wait for my words!

Let them draw near and speak;

let us come together for judgment. Isaiah 41:1


“Coastlands” refer to the trading peoples of the Mediterranean world – they are not Jewish.


Legal questioning 1 – 41:2-4

2 Who has stirred up from the East the champion of justice,

and summoned him to be his attendant?

To him he delivers the nations

and subdues the kings;

With his sword he reduces them to dust,

with his bow, to driven straw. Isaiah 41:2

This is Cyrus, the king of Persia who conquered Babylon and will offer the Jewish leaders an opportunity to return. Yet, it is the God of the Jews who is in control.


4 Who has performed these deeds?

He who has called forth the generations since the beginning.

I, the LORD, am the first,

and with the last I will also be. Isaiah 41:4 (NAB)


Election and reassurance of Israel 41:5-20

8 But you, Israel, my servant,

Jacob, whom I have chosen,

offspring of Abraham my friend—

9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth

and summoned from its far-off places,

You whom I have called my servant,

whom I have chosen and will not cast off— Isaiah 41:8–9 (NAB)

Cyrus has been obedient to God’s will and has been rewarded with victory, but the Persians are not the chosen people. It is the people of Abraham who God has recalled from the ends of the earth and have his special favor. Note also that he refers to them as servants. They are chosen and important, but because they have a role.

Many beautiful lines follow but they reinforce the idea that the God of Israel is the Lord of History but as we have seen many times before He demands justice from his people.

Summons to trail 2 41:21

Having established that Israel’s God has worked his will, we begin the second trial, “Are there other Gods?”

21 Present your case, says the LORD;

bring forward your reasons, says the King of Jacob Isaiah 41:2


Legal Questioning 2 41:22-29


Now the “other” gods are on trial, or more specifically their idols:


23 Foretell the things that shall come afterward,

that we may know that you are gods!

Do something, good or evil,

that will put us in awe and in fear. Isaiah 41:23


They cannot, therefore:


24 Why, you are nothing and your work is nought!

To choose you is an abomination. Isaiah 41:24 (NAB)


He uses Cyrus as an example. He called him and the “other gods” did not even know it:


26 Who announced this from the beginning, that we might know;

beforehand, that we might say it is true?

Not one of you foretold it, not one spoke;

no one heard you say, Isaiah 41:26 (NAB)


From this He concludes that they do not exist. This is the earliest clear statement that there are no other gods


29 Ah, all of them are nothing,

their works are nought,

their idols are empty wind! Isaiah 41:29 (NAB)


Election and reassurance of Israel 2 42:1-9

We now come to the section for Sunday’s reading.

We have seen in 41:8 that God has called His servant. He returns to this when explains to the people what accepting Him as the only deity really means.

1 Here is my servant whom I uphold,

my chosen one with whom I am pleased,

Upon whom I have put my spirit;

he shall bring forth justice to the nations. Isaiah 42:1 (NAB)


He is speaking to the Jews who returned to Jerusalem not to a king, or indeed a prophet. As we saw last week the Kings and the traditional leaders failed. They failed to be just to their own people and thus could not fulfill their calling to bring justice to the nations. If the God of the Jews is truly the only God, then he is truly the ultimate course of Justice and peace.

3 A bruised reed he shall not break,

and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,

4 Until he establishes justice on the earth;

the coastlands will wait for his teaching. Isaiah 42:3–4 (NAB)


It shall not be by their own power; certainly not by traditional military might. A plant shall not be crushed by their own efforts, but the power of God will transform the pagans of the Coastlands who, in the quiet of their hearts, await the message that will set them free as well.

6 I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,

I have grasped you by the hand;

I formed you, and set you

as a covenant of the people,

a light for the nations, Isaiah 42:6 (NAB)


By His covenant, sharing of life with His people, He will make them into a light for the nations: the way His name will be known.

Through them he will do for the world what he did for Israel

7 To open the eyes of the blind,

to bring out prisoners from confinement,

and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. Isaiah 42:7 (NAB


Through our covenant with Jesus, we have joined the Jews in the responsibility of being the light to the nations. As Pope Francis reminded the U.S. bishops on their retreat which concluded last Tuesday, this will be done with a firm commitment to justice. In its clearest form, this means our care for those who are poor and whose needs are not even seen. As of this writing, the “Partial” government shutdown is still in effect. There are contract workers who will never be paid and who are in desperate straits as it is. I  wonder how many congresspeople and bureaucrats, as well as the President and Cabinet members, know the names of the people who clean their offices? Do they know if they have children and can they pay their bills? Or are they as interchangeable as the desks and chairs? The people of Abraham will be visible and will be a light to the nations, but only if we care for those who invisible.

Epiphany – We the People, the Kings

Meet & Greets – Sunday, January 27
Our next Meet & Greets will be on Sunday, January 27. We will be offering coffee and breakfast after the 9 and 11:15 AM Masses, and wine and cheese after the 7 PM Mass. Please join us for hospitality and fellowship!

Bishop’s Visit – Sunday, February 2 3
Bishop DiMarzio will be visiting St. Charles on Sunday, February 2nd 3rd, and will be celebrating the 9 AM Mass that day. Please join us to welcome him that morning.

The Pope and the Bishops:

This week the Bishops of the United States are on a religious retreat suggested by Pope Francis. Their Retreat Master is Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher to the Papal Household  and thus preacher to the Pope. Pope Francis has also written to them a most bracing letter. You may find the letter in full at: http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/francis/upload/francis-lettera-washington-traduzione-inglese-20190103.pdf

We would all benefit from reading this part as a parish:

[What we need as a Church] requires not only a new approach to management, but also a change in our mind-set (metanoia), our way of praying, our handling of power and money, our exercise of authority and our way of relating to one another and to the world around us. Changes in the Church are always aimed at encouraging a constant state of missionary and pastoral conversion capable of opening up new ecclesial paths ever more in keeping with the Gospel and, as such, respectful of human dignity. … [The Church] needs bishops who can teach others how to discern God’s presence in the history of his people, not mere administrators.”

All who wish to have a place in Church leadership should listen to these words. I certainly will.

Fr Smith



First Reading

The Epiphany

Jan 6, 2019


Last week we saw the Jewish people move from clan and chieftain leadership to a monarchy. Although this occurred around the year 1000 BC, the book of Samuel revealed a rather sophisticated understanding of the strengths and weakness of each system. This week, we see how the Jews adapted to knowing that they would not have a king in the foreseeable future and an even more sophisticated analysis of the consequences.

This section of the book of Isaiah was written about 500 BC in Jerusalem. It is a difficult time. The Persians invited the leaders of the Jews to return after a generation in exile, but as their subjects. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah give the background to this and it is obvious that many of those who returned were not happy. They were uncertain why they were there and what they were supposed to do.

The author instructed them very shrewdly. The residents of Jerusalem would have prayed the Psalms probably from memory. They would have known Psalm 72, part of which reads:

O God, give your judgment to the king; 

your justice to the son of kings;

That he may govern your people with justice,

your oppressed with right judgment,

3 That the mountains may yield their bounty for the people,

and the hills great abundance,

4 That he may defend the oppressed among the people,

save the poor and crush the oppressor.  Psalm 72:2–4


What does this mean when there is no king? Simply that the entire people, or at least those residing in Jerusalem, have taken on the role of King. As usual with the Old Testament, we first see this negatively. In the chapter immediately before what we read this week:


1 Lo, the hand of the LORD is not too short to save,

nor his ear too dull to hear.

2 Rather, it is your crimes

that separate you from your God,

It is your sins that make him hide his face

so that he will not hear you. (Isaiah 59:1-2)


These sins are from injustice:


No one brings suit justly,

no one pleads truthfully;

They trust in emptiness and tell lies;

they conceive mischief and bring forth malice. Isaiah 59:4


The verdict of Deuteronomy is always present. When the people act justly, they prosper; when they do not, they falter. It is easy to blame a corrupt political or moral system, but the prophets will not have it. This is partly true, but nothing can exempt anyone from acting justly.


Also, common however in the Old Testament is the promise of reversal – that the reward for justice is prosperity and respect among the nations. We see that in the opening verses today:


1 Rise up in splendor! Your light has come,

the glory of the Lord shines upon you.

2 See, darkness covers the earth,

and thick clouds cover the peoples;

But upon you the LORD shines,

and over you appears his glory. Isaiah 60:1–2


The light is the presence of God which accomplishes all things, including the gathering of all the tribes – traditionally the task of kings.


4 Raise your eyes and look about;

they all gather and come to you:

Your sons come from afar,

and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Isaiah 60:4

The respect of the nations is more than just words, these are physical people, and everything must be in physical terms.

For the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,

the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.

6 Caravans of camels shall fill you,

dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;

All from Sheba shall come

bearing gold and frankincense,

and proclaiming the praises of the LORD. Isaiah 60:5–6

Note the reference to Sheba, and remember that the queen of Sheba brought gifts to King Solomon. This reflects the past; interesting, however are the feelings towards the foreign nations.

During the exile, Ezekiel wrote:

You have admitted foreigners, uncircumcised both in heart and flesh, to my sanctuary to profane it when you offered me food, fat, and blood; thus you have broken my covenant by all your abominations.  Ez 44:7


In the passage which follows what we read today:

7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you,

the rams of Nebaioth shall be your sacrifices;

They will be acceptable offerings on my altar,

and I will enhance the splendor of my house. Isaiah 60:7 (NAB)



13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you:

the cypress, the plane and the pine,

To bring beauty to my sanctuary,

and glory to the place where I set my feet. Isaiah 60:13

For this author, they rebuild the Temple and provide the offerings. This reflects Isaiah 49 on the vocation of the people of Israel:

6 It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,

to raise up the tribes of Jacob,

and restore the survivors of Israel;

I will make you a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6

Last week, we saw that the transition to Kingship could only be accomplished for Jews with the aid of a prophet. We see the same here. There is much conflict and contradiction, but a path is found not by administrators or soldiers or priests but by prophets.

As we begin 2019, we may feel like the Jews in Jerusalem asking: “what happened”? Who will make sense of this? In Jewish and Christian terms, “Where are our prophets?” When Pope Francis addressed Congress in 2015, one of the four Americans he mentioned was Abraham Lincoln. As the Civil War, the bloodiest and cruelest upheaval our country has ever faced, was coming to an end, Lincoln wrote in his Second Inaugural Address:

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan  to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

His interpretation of the moment that charity and generosity were needed, not violence and revenge, was an extraordinary and unwanted insight. It was prophecy in action. Like Isaiah over two millennia before, he was perhaps the only person who could see it clearly and say it eloquently. Enough who heard Isaiah followed him and Judaism has survived and prospered. We have perhaps not followed Lincoln closely enough, which is why the Pope had to include Martin Luther King in his address – enough so that we have stumbled by. Given the gravity of our situation, God will send us  prophets who will share extraordinary and unwanted insights as well.

Will we hear? Will we follow?

4th Sunday of Advent – Do Right, Love Goodness, Walk Humbly With Your God

Beatitudes for Politicians from Pope Francis

  • Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.
  • Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
  • Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
  • Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.
  • Blessed be the politician who works for unity.
  • Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.
  • Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.
  • Blessed be the politician who is without fear.

They were actually proposed by the late Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, who spent 13 years in a Communist prison, nine in solitary confinement.

Christmas Mass Schedule
Monday 12/24:
Mass at 5 PM (Nativity Pageant)
Tuesday 12/25: Mass at Midnight, 9 AM and 11:15 AM. (No 7 PM Mass).

Last Week’s Meet & Greets and Christmas Pageant

Thank you all for your support and donations last weekend for our Meet & Greets. At the 11:15 AM Mass, the Family Faith students performed the Nativity Pageant at the Gospel. Cantor Ulises Solano (photo above) led the children in song. Young adults from St. Vincent’s Services were our special guests. We will have an encore presentation of the Nativity Pageant at the 5 PM Mass on Monday, 12/24.

Fr. John giving the homily

Parishioner Lauren Pettiette and her support group from St. Vincent’s Services



First Reading

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Dec 23, 2018

Micah 5:1-4a


We read this week from the prophet Micah. He was a younger contemporary of the first Isaiah and reflected his concerns about Justice and society. (737-696BC).  Unlike Isaiah he was from a small town and was particularly enraged about the exploitation of small farmers. Although, his words were written down after his death the “book” was edited several times to show its relevance to contemporary society. Let us look at what would have been so special and pertinent about his message.

The Assyrian empire was at its most ruthless and cruel during this time, but his emphasis was on the sins of his own people:


For the crime of Jacob all this comes to pass,

and for the sins of the house of Israel.

What is the crime of Jacob? Is it not Samaria?

And what is the sin of the house of Judah?

Is it not Jerusalem? Micah 1:5


His attention is on the elite in Jerusalem.


1 Woe to those who plan iniquity,

and work out evil on their couches;

In the morning light they accomplish it

when it lies within their power.

2 They covet fields, and seize them;

houses, and they take them;

They cheat an owner of his house,

a man of his inheritance. (Micah 2:2-2)


These are people who do not work the land but own it. Micah believes that the land was obtained illegally or at least immorally.  This is not only an individual sin but against the entire community, Jews, like Catholics, believe that they are connected to God by being part of his people. They believed as well that He gave this land to Jewish families and that their connection to Him would be through this land. Speculators and others who took this land were not only guilty of theft, but of breaking God’s relationship with his people, one family at a time.


Micah saw how dangerous this was and was he first to prophesize that it would end with the destruction of Jerusalem. These lines follow immediately after the denunciation of the rich found above:


3 Therefore thus says the LORD:

Behold, I am planning against this race an evil

from which you shall not withdraw your necks;

Nor shall you walk with head high,

for it will be a time of evil.

4 On that day a satire shall be sung over you,

and there shall be a plaintive chant:

“Our ruin is complete,

our fields are portioned out among our captors,

The fields of my people are measured out,

and no one can get them back!”


Many scholars believe that he thought this would happen in his lifetime. As we noted the Assyrian Empire was at its most aggressive. They had already destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 and attached Judah (Jerusalem) in 701. That attack was called off by the Assyrians and Jerusalem was spared. A hundred years later when Jerusalem was being attacked by Babylon, these verses were retooled for that occasion.

This was seen as more than merely updating but a clearer revelation of God’s will.  The next section presumes exile and return:

1 In days to come

the mount of the LORD’S house

Shall be established higher than the mountains;

it shall rise high above the hills,

And peoples shall stream to it:

2 Many nations shall come, and say,

“Come, let us climb the mount of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

That he may instruct us in his ways,

that we may walk in his paths.”

For from Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Micah 4:1–2

Because of their faithfulness they will be able to share their way of life with other people including the law and worship. Also, as we have seen before this will be without the traditional leadership.

Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob … who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong!… because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins” (Mic 3:9–10, 12)

And thus


6 On that day, says the LORD,

I will gather the lame,

And I will assemble the outcasts,

and those whom I have afflicted.

7 I will make of the lame a remnant,

and of those driven far off a strong nation;

And the LORD shall be king over them on Mount Zion,

from now on forever. Micah 4:6–7 (NAB)

The section that we read today brings many of these themes together:

1 But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah

too small to be among the clans of Judah,

From you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel;

Whose origin is from of old,

from ancient times. Micah 5:1 (NAB)

Ephrathah is the ancient name for the area around Bethlehem. It is miles outside of Jerusalem, and is rural and not contaminated by the sins of the city. It is the town of King David. Micah is telling the Jews that to prosper, they must go back to the beginning of the reign of King David and start all over again.

Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time

when she who is to give birth has borne,

And the rest of his brethren shall return

to the children of Israel. Micah 5:2


It will literally require a rebirth. This resembles Isaiah’s famous lines:

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 .

Yet note the difference. The Message is the same: injustice and idolatry has forced God to begin again, but Isaiah is a man of the city talking to a king. This is court politics. Micah is a man of the provinces and speaks as an outsider.

This reminds us of the thought of Pope Francis. There is always a tension between the center and the peripheries. There must be both, but progress comes from the outside in – from those who the “system” or the establishment are not serving. We see the effects of globalization in our world and gentrification in our own community. Like Isaiah, we know that it has mixed and problematic consequences but at second hand. Micah knew the social and indeed religious effects as well as the financial of the activities of the rich and prosperous of his day and his prophesies were more powerful for it. We need the testimony of those in our own time and community who experience the negative aspects of expansion as well as the reports and analyses of those who will experience the benefits. The former may be the truly prophetic. Let us take the most famous lines of the book of Micah to ourselves:

8 You have been told, O man, what is good,

and what the LORD requires of you:

Only to do right and to love goodness,

and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NAB)





Third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete – Shout of Joy

Meet & Greets + Children’s Nativity Pageant

This Sunday, we will have our monthly Meet & Greets after each of the Masses. We will serve breakfast after the 9 and 11:15 PM mass, and wine and cheese after the 7 PM Mass. The Children’s Nativity Pageant will be held during the Gospel at the 11:15 AM Mass – this is a highlight of our Family Faith Program each year. Our special guests will be young adults from St. Vincent Services. Please join us for fellowship and good cheer in this special season!

Connecting at St Charles

Do you work insane hours? Do you travel so much you don’t know where you will be next week much less where you will attend Mass? Do you feel that you really don’t belong to any Parish and want to feel more connected to St Charles? Please join us this Monday, Dec 17th,  7:30 PM at 31 Sidney Place (The Rectory) Parlor Floor

Fr John Gribowich, a resident at St Charles who is continuing his studies in media at the University of California Berkley, will assist us in developing ways to connect with each other. He will be joined by Davd Plisky from DeSales Media.

I hope and pray that you will be able to attend.

Christmas Collections

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens was recently featured in the New York Times Neediest Cases column for its Intern and Earn program, which gets 16-24-year olds back on track in their home, school, or career lives. Read more at https://nyti.ms/2zG3cJW (free article). The second collection at Christmas will be dedicated to Catholic Charities.

We are also continuing to have the following collections:

  • Christmas Collection and Christmas Flowers for our Church – Give online at https://stcharlesbklyn.weshareonline.org/ChristmasSpecialCollection or use your mass envelope.
  • 7th Annual Toys for Tots drive at the The Custom House  – Unwrapped Toys & Gift Cards to be distributed by Catholic Charities. Drop off at The Custom House at 139 Montague Street by December 15th.
  • Family Faith Program Collection of Winter Hats, Scarves, Gloves for St. Charles Seniors – drop off unwrapped items at box at front of church by Sunday, December 16.

Thank you very much for your support!

Fr William Smith



Third Sunday of Advent

Dec. 16, 2018

Zephaniah 3:14-18a


Today we read from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah. He is rarely quoted directly but will be somewhat familiar to classical music enthusiasts for providing the opening words to the Dies Irae, a hymn which was part of the old Requiem Mass.

A day of wrath is that day

a day of anguish and distress,

A day of destruction and desolation,

a day of darkness and gloom,

A day of thick black clouds


Zephaniah 1:15


He does however have much to teach us that is particularly suited to the Advent season.

He gives us a brief autobiography at the beginning of his book.


The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah, the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah.

Zephaniah 1:1

He is very well connected – a descendant indeed of the good king Hezekiah (716-687 BC), he also dates himself to the reign of the reforming king Josiah. (640-609) This would make him a slightly older contemporary of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. As we have seen before this was a time when the military power of Assyria was diminishing. The Jews were able to take some breathing room not only to attempt to obtain greater political autonomy but also greater religious independence. During the reigns of Manasseh and Amon (687-640) many foreign elements were added to Jewish worship and practice. This was good politics but bad religion. Zephaniah was the first prophet since Isaiah, and he encouraged King Josiah to purify religious practice. Much of the first chapter of Zephaniah is virtually incomprehensible to us because it speaks of pagan religious practices that were successfully purged from Jewish worship. For instance, “the Lord will punish all who leap over the threshold”, (Zephaniah 1:9) This refers to the worship of the pagan god Dargon. The effect however is familiar:

12 At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps;

I will punish the men …

Who say in their hearts,

“Neither good nor evil can the LORD do.”


Zephaniah 1:12 (NAB)


Once worship is adulterated and tradition weakened, ultimately belief is surrendered and God may seem irrelevant. It is Zephaniah’s message that the Lord is always a player.

For Zephaniah, the fish stinks from the head down.

1 Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted,

to the tyrannical city!

2 She hears no voice,

accepts no correction;

In the LORD she has not trusted,

to her God she has not drawn near.

3 Her princes in her midst

are roaring lions;

Her judges are wolves of the night

that have had no bones to gnaw by morning.

4 Her prophets are insolent,

treacherous men;

Her priests profane what is holy,

and do violence to the law. Zephaniah 3:1–4


A fairly comprehensive list and a realistic evaluation. Bad leaders bring bad ends. Realistic also is Zephaniah’s address to the poor:


2 Before you are driven away,

like chaff that passes on;

Before there comes upon you

the blazing anger of the LORD:

Before there comes upon you

the day of the LORD’S anger.

3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth,

who have observed his law;

Seek justice, seek humility;

perhaps you may be sheltered

on the day of the LORD’S anger.


Zephaniah 2:2–3


This reveals a unique feature of the Old Testament. The Lord is concerned about the poor and the marginalized, and calls those who are rich and prosperous to task for the means by which they obtained and maintained their prosperity and position. Characteristic as well is that – as we have seen before – the prophets will call down God’s wrath on foreign nations.


4 For Gaza shall be forsaken,

and Ashkelon shall be a waste,

Ashdod they shall drive out at midday,

and Ekron shall be uprooted.

Zephaniah 2:4

It goes on for quite a while and is very comprehensive, but is balanced by the oracles against the Jews themselves. As the history of the Jewish people clearly shows being the Chosen people is not a free pass. All are subject to the justice of God, but also his mercy. After He has shown His wrath on the nations, He will make them His own:

9 For then I will change and purify

the lips of the peoples,

That they all may call upon the name of the LORD,

to serve him with one accord;

10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia

and as far as the recesses of the North,

they shall bring me offerings.

Zephaniah 3:9–10


The Jews will be the means he will use to accomplish this:


11 On that day

You need not be ashamed

of all your deeds,

your rebellious actions against me;

For then will I remove from your midst

the proud braggarts,

And you shall no longer exalt yourself

on my holy mountain.

12 But I will leave as a remnant in your midst

a people humble and lowly,

Who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD;

13 the remnant of Israel.

They shall do no wrong

and speak no lies;

Nor shall there be found in their mouths

a deceitful tongue;

They shall pasture and couch their flocks

with none to disturb them. Zephaniah 3:11–13

Here we see an important theme in the first testament. The Jewish people are not chosen for themselves, but to be the light to the nations and the means by which all people will come to know the Lord. Thus, Zephaniah speaks of a remnant that will live in Jerusalem after the others have been removed.

This is where our reading today begins. Before examining it, we need to look at a bit of editing. As we have seen before, the final editing of many of the books in the first testament was after the exile about 500 BC. Most scholars believe that this section was added as a fitting conclusion to the book.

It is a shout of joy for the saving work of God. It is also a very realistic one. We believe that God has entered into history and reveals himself through it. It takes time to see that those who live as if God matters will be vindicated. That what may have seen immediately as disaster was a means of holiness and that the God who is in our midst will:

18 as one sings at festivals.

I will remove disaster from among you,

so that none may recount your disgrace.

Zephaniah 3:18 (NAB)

Second Sunday of Advent – Equality and Justice

Collection for retired and infirmed religious:

Sunday, Dec. 9th

All Masses.


How do we connect to each other as members of St Charles today?

Many of our parishioners travel extensively or work exhausting hours. How can we feel that we belong to a Parish if we attend sporadically? This is not a matter of fulfilling one’s religious obligation. Our parishioners attend Mass literally all over the world and have shared many good ideas and excellent bulletins and web sites with me. We need to focus on a sense of participation and belonging. What we are calling a “Media Meeting” is not for techies only. They are very important and indeed essential, but we need road warriors and people working hard to make partner to tell us where they are and explore ways of connecting us all together.

To accomplish this, we invite you to join with Fr John Grimowich and myself

 on Monday, Dec 17th

at 7:30PM

in the Rectory Parlor.

Fr John is a resident at St Charles continuing his studies in media at the University of California,  Berkeley and is uniquely qualified to assist us to the next steps whatever they will be.

I urge as many people to attend as possible.

Fr William Smith



Second Sunday in Advent

Baruch 5:1-9

Dec. 9, 2018

The book of Baruch is something of a misnomer. It is a collection of 5 “essays” in different forms by separate authors that use the name of Baruch – the secretary to the prophet Jeremiah. Baruch lived in the time of the exile c. 587BC but like the book of Daniel the book of Baruch,  was compiled around the time of the Maccabean revolt c. 175-142BC.  Baruch was well chosen to speak for them. He expressed the wisdom of the ancients who endured exile to those who were experiencing another exile and they hoped return.

The section that we read today is from the 4th section of the Book. It is a long hymn – a psalm – explaining why the Jewish people have suffered but how they can return to stability and happiness. Baruah’s generation saw the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem and what should have been the end of the people, but as Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesized God was not abandoning his people but purifying them. The God who led them from slavery in Egypt centuries before would give them a new exodus and return them to Jerusalem from Babylon. Against all odds this occurred. The author of today’s Song sees a parallel to both exiles. It is so astute that the words could be applied in most cases to both the exiles in Babylon and the people reestablishing a degree of independence in 1st century Palestine. He is showing that the God who expresses himself in history may not repeat himself, but He does rhyme.

This section begins with the voice of Mother Jerusalem:

Fear not, my people!

Remember, Israel,

6 You were sold to the nations

not for your destruction;

It was because you angered God

that you were handed over to your foes. Baruch 4:5–6


After recounting the history of God offering his love and the people rejecting it, mother Jerusalem says:


21 “Fear not, my children; call upon God,

who will deliver you from oppression at enemy hands.

22 I have trusted in the Eternal God for your welfare,

and joy has come to me from the Holy One Baruch 4:21–29


The situation that those to whom this is addressed were facing was the tyranny of Antiochus IV who sought to exterminate Jewish culture so thoroughly that the Jewish people would cease to exist. The people were still in the land but had to fight for control of it. The author of Baruch is asking if the leaders have control of themselves. Did they realize that this extreme oppression was not result of their political miscalculations or of the impersonal functioning of geopolitical forces but their betrayal of their relationship – covenant – with their God.


Fear not, my children; call out to God!

He who brought this upon you will remember you.

28 As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God,

turn now ten times the more to seek him;

29 For he who has brought disaster upon you

will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”



This is a sentiment that we have seen so often that it is part of the DNA of the Jewish people. It earliest form was Deuteronomic history: “Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe (the law of God) , that you may grow and prosper the more, in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers, to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.  Deuteronomy 6

When the Jewish people observed the law, they prospered; when they did not, they faltered and failed. Even with the development of international political realities like the empire of Alexander the Jews were always cautioned not to see themselves as mere pawns of external and impersonal forces. God was always in control.

Now that is was possible for the Jews to have to take political control of their own land,s this was still true. Our passage today begins:

1 Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;

put on the splendor of glory from God forever:

2 , Wrapped in the cloak of justice from God

bear on your head the mitre

that displays the glory of the eternal name.

3 For God will show all the earth your splendor:

4 you will be named by God forever

the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship. Baruch 5:1–2


Victory is at hand, but note the assumptions; It will be true victory only if it is wrapped in the cloak of justice from God and exists for the glory of God. Note also the connection of Jerusalem and worship. Only then will Jerusalem and the Jewish people be able to look for restoration:


5 Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;

look to the east and see your children

Gathered from the east and the west

at the word of the Holy One,

rejoicing that they are remembered by God. Baruch 5:5


The people are returning to Jerusalem and God is preparing the way for them


7 For God has commanded

that every lofty mountain be made low,

And that the age-old depths and gorges

be filled to level ground,

that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God. Baruch 5:7


This of course sounds very much like the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after the exile:


3 A voice cries out:

In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!

Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!

4 Every valley shall be filled in,

every mountain and hill shall be made low;

The rugged land shall be made a plain,

the rough country, a broad valley.

5 Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

and all mankind shall see it together;

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 40:3–5


As we have seen, the exiles differed: with Isaiah, the people were separated from Jerusalem physically; with Baruch, politically. The returns were also different – the Jews from Babylon  knew it was by the power of God and that they did not have the final word. The Maccabees were military victors – did they realize that to God belonged the glory or did they delude themselves?


The measuring stick is clear. We know that God is with us when we as a people show concern for equality and justice. When we do not, we have created our own exile for which there is no return. The poem ends:


 For God is leading Israel in joy

by the light of his glory,

with his mercy and justice for company.

Baruch 5:9









1st Sunday of Advent – In Those Days

Two Hints for Making a Good Advent:

Advent is not Pre-Christmas. It has its own meaning and importance. Simply:

Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.” The weekdays from December 17 up to and including December 24 are ordered in a more direct way to preparing for the Nativity of the Lord. (General Instruction: #39)

Thus: Advent is split in two parts: until Dec. 16th the emphasis is on the second coming of Jesus, from the 17th on we focus on his first coming.

Hint one: Decorate your houses accordingly. Perhaps trim the tree over a few days or use advent wreath and candles at home.

“Early Advent” differs from the other seasons of the church year in that the first reading from the Old Testament is chosen first and the other readings flow from it. “The Old Testament readings are prophecies about the Messiah and the Messianic Age, especially from Isaiah. The readings from an apostle serve as exhortations and as proclamations, in keeping with the different themes of Advent.” (Lectionary for Mass Introduction, no. 93)

Hint two: The parish bulletin includes the readings for the day. Read them even if you are unable to get to Mass.


Feast of the Immaculate Conception:
Saturday, Dec. 8th



Collection for retired and infirmed religious:

Sunday, Dec. 9th

All Masses.


Media Meeting:

An important pastoral reality is that belonging comes before believing. This is especially true for Catholics. We believe that we connect to God as members of his family, the Church, indeed through a particular Parish. Every parish has the same functions and responsibilities but will accomplish them in different ways. We at St. Charles are blessed with many young professionals. Some are part of married couples who have their children in our religious education program. We are happy to serve them with superior formation. Others however are not married or do not have children of school age. Many are road warriors who travel a great deal for work others are working through a pre-natal bucket list: doing all the things they will not be able to do post childbirth. Almost everyone works ungodly hours. Although many of them- indeed you – consider this your parish family and may even attend Mass weekly, it may not in the same place many weeks in a row. This does not develop the sense of belonging which is so necessary for spiritual growth. We do not know how to serve you and need new ways to communicate and connect. To accomplish this, there will be a meeting of anyone interested

with Fr. John Grimowich

on Monday, Dec 17th

at 7:30PM

in the Rectory Parlor.


Fr. John is a resident at St. Charles continuing his studies in media at the University of California, Berkeley and is uniquely qualified to assist us to the next steps. I am not. This will require increased use of social media, virtual learning and Skype, all things I don’t understand and really don’t want to. The creativity of the entire community will be necessary for us to create a Parish in which we can all belong.


Hoping that you will be able to attend, I remain

In Christ

Fr. Smith


First Sunday in Advent

Jeremiah 33:1-16

Dec. 2, 2018


We first read Jeremiah in July in a passage that was quite typical of him. Speaking of and to the leaders of the Jews the Lord said through Jeremiah: “You have not cared for (the sheep), but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.” (Jeremiah 23:2) Not a man noted for ambiguity. Yet todays reading is ambiguous on several levels but will reveal an important truth.

Let us first review Jeremiah’s place in history and scripture. He was an aristocrat active from 627 to 585 BC: two very important dates. A we saw previously in the 100 years following the fall of Israel in 721, the northern kingdom of the Jewish people, Judea, the southern kingdom, was subject to the Assyrians. Like all subject peoples they were looking for a chance to escape.In 627 disturbances following the death of the Assyrian King seemed to provide the opportunity. For a while they were able to carve out some space amid the warring parties but then the Babylonian’s grasped so much power that the Assyrians made an alliance with the Egyptians usually their great rivals, Josiah, he king of Judea, realized that this would effectively end any independence they could have and fought the Egyptians in 609 at Megiddo. He suffered a disastrous defeat and the Judeans needed to be rescued by the Babylonians. Things quickly fall apart. There were several kings in his period who tried both to satisfy the people’s desire for independence and the demands of their Babylonians overlords. They ultimately failed and in 597 the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem and began the first series of deportations of the leadership to Babylon. A puppet king was installed but he could not control his people and the Babylonians deciding that this was hopeless destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple in 586.

It is thought that Jeremiah escaped to Egypt where there was a flourishing Jewish community. He was however arrested and imprisoned several times and the vison which he shares today began in one of these incarcerations. The chapter begins:

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time while he was still imprisoned in the quarters of the guard: 2 Thus says the LORD who made the earth and gave it form and firmness, whose name is LORD: 3 Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell to you things great beyond reach of your knowledge. (Jeremiah 33:1-3)

The Lord begins by stating that he is the creator, but he then reveals that he is also their redeemer and savior:

6 Behold, I will treat and assuage the city’s wounds; I will heal them, and reveal to them an abundance of lasting peace. I will change the lot of Judah and the lot of Israel, and rebuild them as of old. 8 I will cleanse them of all the guilt they incurred by sinning against me; all their offenses by which they sinned and rebelled against me, I will forgive. (Jeremiah 33:6–8)

As we have seen repeatedly the Lord did not just create his people and then abandon them but entered into their lives and history.

The passage which we read today begins after the Lord detailing the good things he will do for his people.

14 The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. 16 In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.” Jeremiah 33:14–16

Jeremiah is telling the people that this restoration will be the fulfillment of his promises to the line of King David. He has said this before:

5 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.” (Je 23:5–6)

There is however a difficulty Jeremiah 33:14 to 26 is considered an addition included after the return to Jerusalem. Please note that this is still inspired and completes the idea. The next section reads:

17 For thus says the LORD: Never shall David lack a successor on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 nor shall priests of Levi ever be lacking, to offer holocausts before me, to burn cereal offerings, and to sacrifice victims.This word of the LORD also came to Jeremiah: Jeremiah 33:17–18

When the people returned to Jerusalem, they did not have a king of the line of David, but they did have a priesthood and they saw that this and the law would be the means that they would stay as a people. AS we see with Jesus the hope of a Davidic King did not die but the day to day reality required priests. Also note that Jeremiah mentions every kind of temple worship. Both palace and temple were needed.

22 Like the host of heaven which cannot be numbered, and the sands of the sea which cannot be counted, I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister to me. Jeremiah 33:22

As we have seen, the final editing of the Pentateuch (Torah) – the first five books of the First Testament – was completed about the same time and place as the final editing of Jeremiah. There was a strong influence by those who wished to recognize the necessity of the priesthood. The practical reality of their situation caused them to fill out and complete the thought of Jeremiah. There is a very powerful lesson here for all of us. We can only follow God if we worship Him.