Second Sunday of Ordinary Time – Using Our Spirit-Given Gifts

The Marriage at Cana, Maerten de Vos,
c. 1596, O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal
(About this Image)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 12:4–11
January 16, 2022

TV Westerns of the 50s and 60s were a wonderful introduction to sociology. Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel, and countless others showed how towns and the social structures that maintained them developed. They mostly unconsciously revealed the importance of class and caste. Despite the almost official American ideology of rugged individualism, we saw how people worked together to build towns along rivers, between mountains, and eventually along train routes. Although most people farmed crops or herded animals, others were drawn to support roles of merchandising and transportation. There was almost always at least one church, school, and saloon in any town and perhaps to appeal to a wider audience, the contributions of white ethics were shown from the beginning. Black, Brown, and Asian people were added in the later sixties. Some programs were very honest about racial tensions but almost all about the conflicts between the very small elite and the workers and farmers. The realities both positive and negative of the power structures were clearly seen.

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Hearing the Spirit’s Renewal Today

Baptism of Christ, Paolo Caliari (Veronese),
c. 1580, Palazzo Pitti (Florence)
(About this Image)


Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Baptism of the Lord
Titus 2:11–14, 3:4–7
January 9, 2022

The first section of today’s second reading from the Letter of Paul to Titus was read two weeks ago at the Christmas masses. (Titus 2:11–14) As we noted then, the Letter to Titus was most likely written for a disciple of St. Paul, Titus the leader of the Church in Crete, by a successor of St. Paul. It was a pastoral letter which meant that it addressed practical issues in the church at the time. It was written in Paul’s name, although everyone knew he was dead, to show that his successors understood that they were applying Paul’s teachings in an authentic manner and should be obeyed. This reflects our situation today in an uncanny manner.

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Epiphany – Joining Together To Be His Presence in the World

Virgin and Child mosaic, 9th century, Hagia Sophia
(About this Image)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Feast of the Epiphany
Letter to the Ephesians 3:2–6
January 2, 2022

The second reading for the feast of the Epiphany is from the “Letter to the Ephesians.” (Ep 3:2-3a, 5-6). We examined this letter last summer in these commentaries. Those who read them will see that many passages from the letter would be very appropriate for the feast of the Epiphany but this one is particularly well suited.

We must remember a few things to start. Most scholars would agree that it was written by a disciple of St. Paul after his death. As we have many times noted, this would not be deceitful as his readers would have known that Paul was dead. As we saw last week with the reading of the letter to Titus, this allowed the author and indeed the leaders who followed Paul to show that they were in continuity with him. Who would follow the original apostles as leaders was a real problem and Ephesians is one of the clearest statements on how and why the Catholic Church developed. Continue reading “Epiphany – Joining Together To Be His Presence in the World”

Christmas – Participating in Our Redeemer’s Birth

Adoration of the Child, Gerrit Van Honthorst,
c. 1619–1620, Uffizi Gallery (Florence)
(About this Image)

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2:8–12 )

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Titus 2:11–14
December 25, 2021

The second reading for Christmas midnight Mass, which we will celebrate here at 5 PM on Christmas Eve, is from the letter to Titus (2:11–14). This is one of the pastoral letters written in the name of St. Paul but most likely composed years after his death by a disciple. They reflect the situation of the church which the apostles left behind. The first generation of witnesses had died and the leaders who were left needed to establish not only how they would govern, but why they could govern. This did not arise abstractly but in concrete situations. These letters addressed them and are thus “pastoral” in that the new leaders prove their worth by the wisdom of their responses. Their use of Paul’s name would not have been seen as dishonest: everyone knew he was dead. They allowed the readers to look at what Paul had said and done in other situations and see if what his successors wrote “fits.” Titus’ letter fits very well not in the original situation but also for our Christmas.

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4th Sunday of Advent – Preparing for the Lord’s Birth

Mary and Elizabeth Meet, Moretto da Brescia,
early 16th century, Nationalmuseum (Sweden)

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
(Luke 1:41–43)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Hebrews 10:5–10
December 19, 2021

We are now in “late Advent” when the focus is clearly on the birth of Jesus. The first line of our opening prayer reminds us that through God’s grace an angel had made known to us “the incarnation of Christ your Son”. The preface of the Mass says that:

all the oracles of the prophets foretold him,
the Virgin Mother longed for him
with love beyond all telling,
John the Baptist sang of his coming
and proclaimed his presence when he came.

Our first reading from the prophet Micah tells us that Bethlehem is more than just a small insignificant village:

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.

(Mic 5:2)

Our gospel relates the story of Mary’s Visit to her elderly cousin Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39–45) Yet I find the second reading today from the letter to the Hebrews more interesting as it urges us to contemplate the meaning of the second part of today’s opening prayer that in the Eucharist we are “brought to the glory of his Resurrection.”

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3rd Sunday of Advent – The Joy of God’s Presence

Juan Diego and His Tilma Showing Our Lady of Guadeloupe
Lawrence OP | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Third Sunday of Advent
St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:4–7
December 12, 2021

Today is Gaudete Sunday. This means rejoice and is reflected in the prayers and readings of the day. To name just a few. The opening prayer encourages us to await the Lord’s birth:

to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.

The first line of the first reading in today’s Mass from Zephaniah reads:

Shout for Joy, O daughter Zion;
Sing joyfully O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!

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1st Sunday of Advent – Bringing the Kingdom to Fulfillment

Fr. Smith’s Commentary of the Second Reading
1 Thessalonians 3:12–4:2
First Sunday of Advent
November 27, 2021

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the Church Year. The most obvious change is that the priest will be wearing purple vestments. A more subtle difference is how the readings for Mass will be chosen. In Ordinary Time, when the liturgical color is green, the Gospel for the year is read somewhat continuously and the first reading is chosen from the Old Testament to complement it. The second reading most often taken from St. Paul is read also semi-contiguously for a few weeks at a time. We have recently examined Romans, 1st Peter, and Hebrews among other writings. In Advent all the readings are chosen to develop the theme of the season. We might better say variations on a theme. Advent means “coming” and we are certainly aware that Christmas is coming. Yet there is another coming that is commemorated as well.

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