Celebration remembers Fr. Jim Smith

Fr. Jim Smith, pastor of St. Matthias Church in Columbus, Ohio, and a longtime contributor to Celebration, died Jan 5, 2013. He was 78.

The many homilies he preached and published over the years showed a persistent pursuit of the mystery of God. He came at this mystery from every angle, with every kind of question about the human experience of encountering God in joy, suffering, life and death, and even in our wrestling with the deep conundrums of social and personal evil, natural catastrophe, the suffering and terrible injustices that befall the innocent. Jim approached God in prayer and study, in his daily Mass, in the night watches of his own suffering. They were like old friends who could talk about anything, share everything, push the hard questions to the limit, go as deeply into the silence as was humanly possible for Jim, who would then wait, pray, and finally submit to the mystery. On his deathbed, he reportedly expressed his eagerness to meet God face to face, to “see if I have gotten it right.”

Permeating all of his homilies was the centrality of love. God was not a problem to be solved, but had to be pursued the way a lover pursues the beloved, until you realize that you are in fact being pursued — as the beloved.

Jim heard and shared the voice of Jesus during his long ministry, and now his own encounter with God, face to face, has happened, and his joy is complete.