Thursday, 30 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to go forth and to do the will of God, to be converted to His path and truth and to turn away from our many sinful ways, abandoning those wicked things which we have done and committed all these while. We are reminded to look into our actions and attitudes in life thus far, whether we have done what God has taught and showed us to do, or whether we have ignored our calling in life as Christians to be committed to God at all times.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Nehemiah, the account of how the people of Israel, then very recently returned from the land of their exile in Babylon, gathered in Jerusalem to listen to the words of the Lord and the Law that He has given to them, and which had been recorded in the scrolls of the Torah or the Jewish Scriptures. The prophet and priest Ezra led the people in the session, reading to them the Law and the words of God, and explaining the meaning of what they heard with the Levites, in which many of the people wept and regretted sorrowfully over their many sins and erroneous ways.

They must have regretted the sins they had committed and the waywardness of their ancestors which had led them to lose their homeland and suffer from the long exile in the first place. They had gone through the bitter experiences of their exile and being humbled among the nations, and all these, as they were reminded of the Law and words of the Lord, of all the many things that they and their ancestors had failed to obey and keep faithfully led them to the great sorrow they expressed before God and everyone assembled.

Then Ezra and the Levites comforted and reassured the people with the words of the Lord Himself, Who wanted them all to know that it was their time to rejoice and celebrate, to commemorate their liberation and return to their homeland. They had been gathered back by the Lord, Who willed to reconciled them to Himself and Who wanted them to regain the honour, glory and inheritance that their ancestors had once enjoyed but lost through their disobedience and sins. They should not remain in sorrow and regret, but rather rejoice because they had been found and saved.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the commissioning and sending of the seventy-two disciples whom the Lord had chosen to do His works among the people, to go before Him and to prepare His way, as well as to minister to the people and deliver to them the Good News of God’s truth and salvation. He told them all that they ought to remain firm and strong in faith, to trust in the Lord even when they encounter trials and challenges throughout their ministry for God would always be with them, protecting and guiding them along the entire way.

What is the significance of all these that we have heard today, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is that we have been called by God to follow Him and to be His faithful disciples, to trust in Him and to allow Him to perform His many wonderful works through us. He has rescued us and called us all from the darkness of this world much like He has gathered His people back, those scattered among the nations and brought them back to their homeland. God has also gathered us back from the darkened paths of this world and called us to follow Him.

Yet, many of us remained idle and in self-deprecation, thinking that we cannot do great things for the sake of the Lord, much like the Israelites wallowing in their sorrow and regret over their past sins. The Lord showed us and reminded us that we have been led out of the darkness into His light and it is our calling to be the faithful witnesses of God’s light and truth. God wants us to do whatever we can, even in the simplest and smallest things to be great role models and inspirations in faith to our fellow brothers and sisters.

Today, we should look up to the great examples showed by St. Jerome, the great Doctor of the Church, who was remembered for his great piety and contributions to the Church, as well as his humility and commitment to the Lord for so many years throughout his life. We should be inspired by his life and examples so that hopefully our lives too may be inspirational to others who witness our works just as we are inspired by St. Jerome, his life and great contributions to the Lord, His Church and His beloved people.

St. Jerome was a student of philosophy who discovered the Lord and his faith in Him during his studies and search for truth. He once led a debauched and wicked lifestyle early in his life, which he would come to regret greatly later on in his life. After converted to the faith and began studying more about the Lord and His Sacred Scriptures, then written in the traditional Biblical Hebrew and translated into the Greek Septuagint. However, there had not been an authoritative Latin translation of the Scriptures that existed yet at that time, and it was St. Jerome who was renowned for his translation of the Greek Septuagint and the original texts into the Latin Vulgate.

St. Jerome also assisted the Pope in Rome in his many missions and works, as he continued his works on the Vulgate translation of the Scriptures back then. He assisted the Vicar of Christ in the many efforts that were done in order to strengthen the Church and its foundations, in reforming its practices and imposing discipline against creeping influences of corrupt worldly practices. St. Jerome devoted himself and his life to these works, and throughout his life, he wrote even more extensively, and his many writings inspired many who came after him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see from the examples set by St. Jerome, we are called to holiness and a virtuous life worthy of being inspiration for each other. St. Jerome himself had a sinful experience in his early life, but that did not prevent him from turning over a new leaf in life and became one of the Lord’s greatest servants and as a great inspiration for so many people who came after him. Are we able and willing to follow in his footsteps, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all reflect on this carefully and discern how we can be better disciples of the Lord from now on.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He guide us and give us the courage to follow Him with all of our might and with all devotion. May God bless us in our every good works and endeavours for His greater glory. Amen.

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