True Greatness in God’s Kingdom, Monday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time (I), September 30, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Monday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church
September 30, 2013
Zec 8:1-8, Ps 102, Lk 9:46-50

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click here: 


The following points were attempted in this homily:

  • Today in the Gospel, the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest. They have this-worldly ambitions to be cabinet secretaries in the Messianic administration they believe Jesus is about to inaugurate on earth. Jesus brings a child in their midst and says that the greatest is the one who receives him in the person of a child, the person who makes himself the least and the most humble to care for others.
  • God wants us all in the Church to be great in this way. In the first reading from the Prophet Zechariah, talking about the rebuilding of the City of Zion, Jerusalem, after the exile, God says that he will return to the city, he will dwell on the holy mountain and the city will be called faithful. The manifestation of his presence will be seen in the fidelity and holiness of the people. He describes that old men and old women will sit in the streets of the city with a staff in their hand and boys and girls will be playing in the streets. The old and the young will both be cared for, protected, and at peace. This morning Pope Francis said in his homily in the Vatican that for the rebuilding of the Church symbolized by the rebuilding of the Temple, for us to have God truly dwelling within us, will be shown by how we care for seniors and for children. “A people that doesn’t care for its seniors and children has no future,” he said, “because he has no memory and no promise. The old and the young are the future of a people!” This is a theme he also spoke about three times during World Youth Day, to try to help the whole world recognize the treasure we have in the young and the old, to try to bring all of society together. Greatness comes through serving the young and the old because in many cases they cannot repay in ways that the world considers valuable. The service is more selfless. It’s more Christlike. If we wish to be rebuilt as a true Temple of God, both individually and as a parish, we must be ambitious for what the Lord seeks, and receive the young and the old as we would Jesus himself.
  • The second path to greatness is shown in the Feast we celebrate today of St. Jerome, the translator of the Bible from the original languages into the common language of the people (the Vulgate) around the year 400 and the patron saint of Scripture Studies. When he was a young man, he had a dream in which he said that he was a Christian, but he was told, rather, that he was a Ciceronian, because he knew far more about Cicero’s writings than he did about God’s writings. It led to a massive change of heart. He would then dedicate the great talent God gave him to getting to know the Lord through the Bible, so that through the assimilation of God’s word, people might become great. He said, famously, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,” and urged us to adorn ourselves with Sacred Scripture more than certain young women try to adorn themselves with pearls.
  • Yesterday we had the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, which focuses on omissions. The Rich Man asked Abraham to send Lazarus from heaven to warn his brothers about the importance of charity while there was still time, but Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets. Let them listen to them!” But the Rich Man replied, basically, that they need more, because they totally were ignoring Moses and the Prophets and their insistent calls to charity. Likewise, so many of us are guilty of the same omission. We ignore Moses and the Prophets. We ignore the Evangelists. We ignore the Epistles. We ignore Sacred Scripture as a whole. Only three percent of Catholics who practice the faith each Sunday world wide have any contact with Sacred Scripture the rest of the week, according to a 2008 survey of eight countries. If we ignore Sacred Scripture, we’re really ignoring Christ, just as much as the rich man ignored Lazarus at his gate. The feast of St. Jerome is an opportunity for us to make a resolution to change. And this week we begin a 24 week Bible Study with Jeff Cavins on the Bible Timeline, which will be dedicated in large part to the Old Testament, to “Moses and the Prophets.” Let us take advantage of that opportunity to cease ignoring Christ by ignoring the words that that foretell him, proclaim what he said and did, and announce his salvation. Let us get to know him better through this means, so that we may heed his words and receive others with love in his name.

The readings for this Mass were: 

Reading 1
ZEC 8:1-8

This word of the LORD of hosts came:Thus says the LORD of hosts:I am intensely jealous for Zion,
stirred to jealous wrath for her.
Thus says the LORD:
I will return to Zion,
and I will dwell within Jerusalem;
Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city,
and the mountain of the LORD of hosts,
the holy mountain.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women,
each with staff in hand because of old age,
shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem.
The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Even if this should seem impossible
in the eyes of the remnant of this people,
shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also,
says the LORD of hosts?
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun,
and from the land of the setting sun.
I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.
They shall be my people, and I will be their God,
with faithfulness and justice.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 AND 22-23

R. (17) The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The children of your servants shall abide,
and their posterity shall continue in your presence.
That the name of the LORD may be declared in Zion;
and his praise, in Jerusalem,
When the peoples gather together,
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.

LK 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”Then John said in reply,
“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
because he does not follow in our company.”
Jesus said to him,
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”