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LETTER FROM THE PASTOR

Part One: Scripture


The ancient tale of Naboth’s vineyard reads like a current story (1 Kings 21). The tale portrays a timeless warning about the danger of political power gone awry and the resulting poison that saturates society. To be clear the villain in the narrative is King Ahab of Israel, but there’s no mistaking how the biblical writers feel about Jezebel. The hero is Naboth, a commoner who tries unsuccessfully to protect his ancestral inheritance from the king.

Jezebel is a foreign woman from the north (modern Lebanon), the wife of King Ahab and a worshiper of the god Baal. Her name translates to something like “un-exalted” (an intentional alteration of her real name, which likely meant “Baal exalts”). Under her influence, King Ahab turns away from the God of Israel to worship Baal, and he allows Jezebel to persecute God’s prophets. Jezebel becomes a rival to the prophet Elijah, who serves as the ancient form of checks-and-balances to Israel’s government.

Ahab requests Naboth’s vineyard in exchange for better land or money. Naboth responds correctly that God “forbids” that he bargain away his ancestral inheritance. Afterward Jezebel finds her husband sulking and with his consent, hatches a plan to get the vineyard. She has Naboth falsely accused locally. Political corruption oozes down into local politics and society. Naboth loses his reputation and is stoned to death. Then, Ahab takes the vineyard.

Was Jezebel really so bad? “Well, likely not,” writes Professor Mahri Leonard-Fleckman. “She is a subplot, a foil for the real storyline about the corruption of Israel’s leadership…Given the Bibles denigration of her, we’ll never know her true character. Eventually, she is devoured by dogs in a field” and her remains left to rot.

Though quite different texts, the tale of Ahab and Jezebel communicates provocatively with the Teaching about Retaliation (a part of the Sermon on the Mount) in the Gospel of Matthew. Here Jesus speaks of offering no resistance to evil, loving one’s enemies, and giving to those who ask. Is one supposed to love Jezebel and Ahab? Naboth refuses to give his metaphoric “cloak” (the vineyard) to Ahab. Of course, according to the law, it really isn’t Naboth to give.

Professor Mahri Leonard-Fleckman reaches the conclusion: “Underlying both Matthew and 1 King 21 is a reminder about integrity at all costs. Things like greed, jealousy, and dishonesty are slippery, poisonous slopes. Better to stay above the fray. In 1 Kings, the one who does so is Naboth. And he is the one forever inscribed in the Bible as the righteous one who acts with honor.”*

*Adapted from the writing of Mahri Leonard-Fleckman.

Assistant Professor, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.


Part Two: Re-Opening Churches

Cardinal Tobin dispenses the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days. Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issues or who are 60 years old or older are strongly encouraged to avoid attending a public celebrations of Mass, because it carries the risk of contagion. We will continue to live-stream the Sunday Mass in Spanish at 9:00 a.m. and in English at 11:00 a.m. The parish has a YouTube channel: Saint Lucy. Please subscribe. It is free to subscribe. Subscribers can view the live-stream Mass on their smart phones.

Phase 2—On Monday, 15 June 2020, St. Lucy entered phase 2. This means that public weekday Masses, funerals, weddings, and baptism will be celebrated. Attendants will be limited to 50 (Fifty) persons, including the minister. Participants with masks and pass temperature checks may enter, provided the number does not exceed 50.

The door on Amity Place and the side door opening to the garages and Rectory parking lot are designated as the ENTRANCE doors to church. The EXIT door will be the door of the St. Gerard Shrine leading to the plaza through the Ruggiero garden. Leaving the church, participants will have to practice social distancing and to wear facial masks.

For the reception of Holy Communion, participants are asked to approach the Eucharistic minister with facial mask in a single file line, maintaining six feet of social distancing and return by the side aisle. Holy Communion is received only on the hands.

Phrase 3—On Saturday evening, 20 June 2020, St. Lucy will enter phase 3. This means that St. Lucy will celebrate publicly Sunday Mass with the practices of social distancing, use of masks and limited number of people present. Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issue or who are 60 years old or older are strongly encouraged to avoid attending a public celebrations of Mass, which carries the risk of contagion. Moreover, we will continue to live-stream the Sunday Mass at 9:00 a.m. and in English at 11:00 a.m. All other sacraments will resume according to directives.

The door on Amity Place and the side door opening to the garages and Rectory parking lot are designated as the ENTRANCE doors to church. The EXIT door will be the door of the St. Gerard Shrine leading to the plaza through the Ruggiero garden. Leaving the church, participants will have to practice social distancing and to wear facial masks.

In phase 3, please pre-register online or by phone on Thursday and Friday between the hours of 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. if you intend to attend the Mass in person. Registration enables us to maintain “social distancing.” The capacity of the church is 50. This number may be raised later.

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St. Lucy's Church

973-803-4200

www.saintlucy.net

118 Seventh Ave

Newark, NJ 07104

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St. Lucy's Church 118 7th Ave, Newark NJ 07104 973-803-4200