14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Crucifying the Petty in Us

Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
(Luke 10:2)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Galatians 6:14–18
July 3, 2022

This week, we read the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul is writing with great emotion and has let his guard down. As with 2nd Corinthians, which we read earlier in the year, he will reveal much about himself. Some of this is admittedly unseemly, but they also show a man who loves God and is fiercely protective of the churches he founded.

He was protecting them from what we now call “Judaizing Christians.” These were people who came from Jerusalem and taught that the communities baptized by Paul needed to become more Jewish. The men should be circumcised, and all adopt Torah laws. They had many reasons for this, and Paul answered them throughout the letter. As he concludes, he brings to the fore a disease which would have been in the back of his readers’ minds: Jews were a protected class in the Empire. They alone did not have to offer sacrifice to the emperor. For others failure to do so was a capital crime.

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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Leading Us into the World

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
(Luke 9:58)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Galatians 5:1, 13–18
June 26, 2022

This Wednesday, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. As we read today from the letter of Paul to the Galatians, we should take to heart Peter’s comment about Paul’s writings: “There are some things in them that are hard to understand.” We need however also remember that Paul was the first intellect of genius to explore the consequences of Jesus’s death and resurrection for himself and for his congregations. These were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles who lived in many places with many cultures. He can, as we have seen repeatedly, become somewhat convoluted so it is refreshing when he is moved by emotion and speaks more clearly. We may lose some precision, but we see more of the forest for the trees. That occurred when we read a sad, indeed depressed, Paul in 2 Corinthians and we will see it today with a very angry Paul in Galatians.

The sections that we will read this and next week, however, are quite gentle and encouraging but we must look at what came before.

Galatia is not a city but an area in Asia Minor (near Ankura in modern Turkey) Paul had lived there and was treated quite well. He taught the people and thought they were well prepared when he left. He discovered however afterwards that other missionaries, perhaps claiming to have been sent by the apostles in Jerusalem, had come to Galatia and told the people that Paul’s teaching was incomplete because he did not require circumcision and other signs of being fully Jewish. Paul feels betrayed and hurt for himself but more concerned for the salvation of his flock and in this letter blasts his opponents personally and demolishes their arguments intellectually.

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Corpus Christi – Acting Like Jesus Every Day

The  Last Supper, Fritz von Uhde,
1886, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
(About this Image)

In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
(1 Corinthians 11:25)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Corpus Christi
1 Cor 11:23–26
June 19, 2022

This week, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus. Our second reading is from the 1st letter of St Paul to the Corinthians. We read this letter earlier this year and a general overview can be found in the commentary for January 16, 2022.

This section is especially important for our time but not perhaps for the reasons we may think.

We will first examine the kind of gathering that forms the basis of this meal, then how Jesus changed it and finally how it was abused. We can then see the power and eternal value of Paul’s message.

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Holy Trinity Sunday – Ministry of Service

The Trinity, Andrei Rublev
1411 or 1425–27, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
(About this Image)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Most Holy Trinity
Romans 5:1–5
June 12, 2022

This week, we celebrate the solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, and the church has chosen a selection from the letter of Paul to the Romans as our second reading. We looked at Romans in some detail two years ago and will not review the background again for this passage. (You may find the earlier commentary at Introduction to the Letter to the Romans.) Paul’s style may be somewhat convoluted for our taste, but this passage is well worth following to a most satisfactory indeed inspiring conclusion.

Besides decidedly Pauline themes, we will find some areas of connection with the Gospel readings from St. John of last few weeks. We begin with “Therefore” and can be relatively certain that a conclusion follows. In this case, Paul has developed the concept of justification for four chapters and in chapter five, which we read today, he will tell us the benefits of being justified. Briefly and superficially justified means that a person has a relationship with God. The Greek word from which it derives, dikaiosunē, means righteousness. We are made righteous by the death and resurrection of Jesus. For Catholics, this is a process that requires being led by the Spirit and thus is a this worldly and in that sense very practical experience.

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Pentecost – Filled with the Holy Spirit

Detail of Holy Spirit Hole,
Saints Peter and Paul, Söll, Austria
(About this Image)

And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
(Acts 2:2–4)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the First Reading
Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1–11
June 5, 2022

We celebrate this week the feast of Pentecost. It is a Jewish feast indeed one of the great pilgrimage feasts when Jews were encouraged to go to Jerusalem and offer sacrifice. It was originally a harvest celebration but quickly became connected with the Exodus and the giving of the Law. Pentecost means 50 and it is celebrated by Jews 50 days after the Passover and commemorates Moses bringing the law to the people.

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Seventh Sunday of Easter – Showing Our Understanding of Revelations

Revelations, Bible Story Windows at Table View Methodist Church,
Rev. Angus Kelly and Anika Van de Merwe, 2018–2019
(About this Image)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Revelations 22:12–21
May 29, 2022

Today, we read the closing section of “The Book of Revelation.” It reprises its key themes:

  • we should heed the revelation;
  • the end is near;
  • and the righteous will be rewarded.

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Sixth Sunday of Easter – The Reality of a God-Centered Existence

Utopien 04, Makis E. Warlamis,
2007, Daskunstmuseum (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
(Revelations 21:10–11)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Rev. 21:10–14, 22–23
May 22, 2022

Last week, John the Seer told us that the effect of the resurrection of Jesus would be not only individual transformation but also that of our entire world. Everything and everyone would be new. Today, he will show us what this means and will once more demand that we pay great attention to the Old Testament. This week, our attention will be drawn to Ezekiel and to Isaiah.

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