Receiving the Lord, His Word and His Missionaries, 26th Friday (II), September 30, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of St. Jerome, Doctor
September 30, 2016
Job 38:1.12-21;40:3-5, Ps 139, Lk 10:13-16

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • “Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.” Today the Lord responds to that petition we repeated several times in the Responsorial Psalm, indicating to us not only the beginning of that path but how to persevere in following the Lord to eternity. It begins by recognizing who God is and how he acts, receiving his work, words and will, and responding to it with reverence, faith and perseverance. Today’s reading and feast drive home that point.
  • In the Gospel, Jesus reproves Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum for their failure to respond profoundly to all that he did among them, saying that if what he did in those cities had been done in the debauched pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon — and, according to a similar passage in St. Matthew — in Sodom and Gomorrah, the inhabitants would all have repented, but he didn’t find profound conversion in the three cities of Galilee and threatened that they would go to Hell rather than be exalted. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, which is either a more detailed account of the same words or the description of a similar scene, Jesus said that the Queen of Sheba had come to hear Solomon’s wisdom, and the Ninevites had repented at the preaching of Jonah, but there was a greater than Solomon and Jonah among them, and they hadn’t received the wisdom and repented. They didn’t recognize who was among them.
  • This is something God taught Job in today’s first reading. After Job finally succumbed to his grief and to his physical suffering and began to question God’s wisdom and goodness, God spoke to him reminding him that he was the commander of the morning, who holds the ends of the earth, who has entered the sources of the sea and knows the breadth of the earth. God almost seems to joke with Job asking how old he is compared to God. Job, having heard God speak, responded with humility, putting his hand over his mouth and listening to what God had said verbally and through his works, rather than seeking to lecture God.
  • This brings us to the Alleluia verse and the end of today’s Gospel. “If today you hear [God’s] voice,” we sang, “harden not your hearts” (Ps 95). Jesus described the spiritual hardening of the arteries at the end of today’s Gospel in terms of what happens to him and what will likewise happen to us. Either God’s word will be received or rejected.  “Whoever listens to you listens to me,” Jesus says. “Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” Jesus is calling all of us to ponder whether we really listen to him or reject him, especially as he speaks to us through his emissaries, the apostles, their successors and others, and as he speaks to us through the evangelists and apostles who have been the Holy Spirit’s instruments to give us God’s word.
  • It’s very fitting today to be celebrating the Feast of St. Jerome with that in mind. St. Jerome was a brilliant student born in Dalmatia (modern day Croatia/Bosnia) who went to study under a famous pagan orator in Rome. There his childhood faith became lukewarm as he continued to read the Greco-Roman classics. He traveled with close friends to learn. Both of the friends died and he was very ill. During his sickness he had a dream in which he was at his judgment and when he said he was a Christian, Jesus replied that he was, rather, a Ciceronian, because he knew far more about Cicero and his writings than he did about Christ and what he said. It struck Jerome to the core. He recognized that he wasn’t opening his ears and heart to the Lord and that he needed to change. So he began to study the Scriptures, learning Hebrew at first as a penance to gain self-mastery in his fight to have a pure heart. Eventually coming to Rome, Pope St. Damasus made him his secretary and asked him to translate the Bible from its original languages into the common language of the people, which he did. After St. Damasus’ death, because by his pungent personality and writing he had alienated many, he went to Bethlehem to pray, translate and write, surrounded by a bunch of women who were in essence proto-religious women, who built a monastery for men and two for women next to the place where Christ was born. In all of his work, St. Jerome recognized an essential point, one that has become a key Christian teaching: Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. If we’re not paying assiduous attention to what Christ has said in the Gospels, what the Prophets foretold about him and he fulfilled, what the Apostles announced about him, his words and his calling, then we don’t really know him. And worse, if we don’t know him, what will he say about us in comparison to Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. To whom more is given, more is to be expected, and we have the Word of God in its fullness and the Word-Made-Flesh and the other sacraments. Are we availing ourselves of these gifts or neglecting them? Today’s feast day is an opportunity for us precisely to focus on the role of Sacred Scripture in our life and whether we recognize that we have God speaking to us from those holy pages. Do we pay more attention to God and his word than all other sources?
  • At the beginning of Mass today we turned to God and asked Him that as he “gave the priest St. Jerome a living and tender love for Sacred Scripture,” he would likewise grant that we “be ever more fruitfully nourished by your Word and find in it the fount of life.” We need a living and tender love, not a dead and cold one; we also need to grasp that Jesus has the words of eternal life and to know him through Sacred Scripture is the source of eternity. And in terms of answering our prayer to “guide us along the everlasting way,” God seeks to do so in a special way through Sacred Scripture, something we’ll mention at the end of Mass today, as we’ll pray, “May these holy gifts we have received, O Lord, as we rejoice in celebrating Saint Jerome, stir up the hearts of your faithful so that, attentive to sacred teachings, they may understand the path they are to follow and, by following it, obtain life everlasting!”

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 JB 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5

The LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said:

Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning
and shown the dawn its place
For taking hold of the ends of the earth,
till the wicked are shaken from its surface?
The earth is changed as is clay by the seal,
and dyed as though it were a garment;
But from the wicked the light is withheld,
and the arm of pride is shattered.

Have you entered into the sources of the sea,
or walked about in the depths of the abyss?
Have the gates of death been shown to you,
or have you seen the gates of darkness?
Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all:
Which is the way to the dwelling place of light,
and where is the abode of darkness,
That you may take them to their boundaries
and set them on their homeward paths?
You know, because you were born before them,
and the number of your years is great!

Then Job answered the LORD and said:

Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
Though I have spoken once, I will not do so again;
though twice, I will do so no more.

Responsorial Psalm PS 139:1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14AB

R. (24b) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Alleluia PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 10:13-16

Jesus said to them,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
at the judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.’
Whoever listens to you listens to me.
Whoever rejects you rejects me.
And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

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