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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 1-12

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim : ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know for a certainty that the kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

“I tell you, that on the Day of Judgment it will be better for Sodom than for this town.”

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

The Law of YHVH is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Nehemiah 8 : 1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12

In the seventh month, all the people gathered as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra to bring the book of the Law of Moses, which YHVH had given to Israel. Ezra brought the Law before the assembly, both men, women and all the children who could understand what was being read.

It was the first day of the seventh month. So he read it before the plaza in front of the Water Gate from dawn till noon, before the men, women and those children who could understand. All the people were eager to hear the book of the Law. Ezra, the teacher of the Law, stood on a wooden platform built for that occasion.

Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was in a higher place; and when he opened it, all the people stood. Ezra praised YHVH the great God; and all the people lifted up their hands and answered, “Amen! Amen!” And they bowed their heads to the ground.

The Levites explained the Law to the people who were standing. They read from the book of the Law of God, clarifying and interpreting the meaning, so that everyone might understand what they were hearing. Then Ezra, the teacher of the Law, said to the people, “This day is dedicated to YHVH, your God, so do not be sad or weep.”

He said this because all wept when they heard the reading of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go and eat rich foods, drink sweet wine and share with him who has nothing prepared. This day is dedicated to the Lord, so do not be sad. The joy of YHVH is our strength.”

The Levites also calmed the people down, saying, “Do not weep. This day is a festival day. Do not be sad.” And the people went their way to eat, drink and share, and they had a great feast, because they had understood the words that had been proclaimed to them.

Monday, 30 September 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to a lesson on humility, and its importance, when we become the disciples of Christ, not to boast of our own glory, but rather boast of the glory of God, made evident in Jesus the Christ. That is because it is indeed the Lord who is worthy of all praise and glory, for His might, and even more importantly for the extent of the love that He had shown us through Christ.

The Lord wanted to teach His disciples, and through them, all of us, on the value and importance on humility and being humble, as the way to be a good and upright person, a good child of God. And Christ did not just preach and do nothing about what He taught, because in fact He truly practiced what He had preached.

How so? Jesus is truly humble and unassuming, although He is truly great, as the King of all kings. He is divine and omnipotent, and all creation is under His power and authority, as the Lord of all the universe, and yet, for our sake and our salvation from death, He is willing to make Himself small and insignificant, as small and unworthy as we are, to be man like one of us, although without sin.

In His humility too, He was born in a small stable, rejected by others, from inns and houses, that He had to be born among the animals and shepherds. He lived as a carpenter’s son and was ridiculed by His own people, the people of Nazareth, when He revealed the truth about Himself to them. He was humble in all of His ways and loving in all of His actions.

There is nothing that exemplifies His humility better than that of His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. That He lowered Himself to die a death of a slave, the death on the cross, condemned to death despite His innocence, for the sake of all of us. But that is also where the Lord’s words came true even more. That is because the symbol of the cross was transformed forever, from the symbol of shame to be a symbol of hope and victory.

Christ rose up from the dead in glory on the third day after His death, and He took His rightful place as the Lord of all things, having saved mankind through His death, that they will not die but live. On the other hand, the prideful and arrogant Satan was cast down in great shame, and forever he is condemned to the punishment prepared for him, for his prideful rebellion against the Lord.

With humility, we will go a long way, because with humility in our heart, we will be more ready to open it to the love of God, to the wisdom of God, and to His saving power. We will be more ready to listen to Him and take in all the teachings that He had told us, the commandments that He had given us to follow, that we become truly faithful and obedient to He who created us.

Humility allows one to understand one’s faults and weaknesses more readily, and also the understanding, that one’s sins had prevented one from reaching the Lord and eternal joy in heaven. That this will likely make one to atone for one’s own sins and do things that help to overcome those sins as well as doing good for others. That is how important humility truly is.

Without humility, we tend to be prone to fall into our own pride, and end up shutting the Lord and even our other beloved ones from our heart. We will tend to build up our ego, to the point that we think only about ourselves, and not for others, at all. We tend to do things for our own glory, and praising ourselves for our own greatness, without realising that, without God we are really nothing.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, a great writer of the early Church, and one of the greatest Doctors of the Church, as one of the original Four, together with St. Augustine, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. as strong pillars of the Church. St. Jerome lived at a time when the faith has begun to take hold over the entire Roman Empire after it was no longer persecuted.

St. Jerome’s contribution to the Church is truly great, especially to the Church in the western parts of the Empire. The Roman Empire was a vast Empire spanning from Britain and the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Middle East and Egypt, encompassing the entire Mediterranean Sea basin. The western part of that Empire spoke primarily Latin and its dialectic derivatives, the official language of the Empire.

The eastern part however, spoke primarily Greek and a variety of other ancient languages, and because the faith came and arose from that region, much of the Scripture that we know today was written in Greek or in the other eastern languages. It is St. Jerome who opened the doorway to the Scripture in the west, and therefore to us, by being the first to translate the Septuagint, that is the Greek Scripture, into the Vulgate, the Latin Scripture, written by St. Jerome himself.

St. Jerome also courageously defended the true and orthodox faith, defending it against every kind of aberrations and heresies that threatened to split the Church apart at that time. Through his writings and other works, St. Jerome kept the Apostolic faith alive and strong even in difficult times.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we celebrate the feast of this great saint, St. Jerome, let us also strive to be more like him. St. Jerome is an ascetic, one who withdrew from the pleasures of the world and reject worldly glories, putting the Lord above everything else. He is also humble, and he did his work with great humility, and yet he bore much fruits.

That is why, brethren, we too should emulate him, in doing good works in our own ways, even in small little ways. Because even in little things, good can eventually come in abundance. In humility too, we can become great, not in the way that the world sees it, but instead in the eyes of the Lord. Humility bears love, and that love will bear much good. Even in his ‘humble’ work as a writer, St. Jerome’s good works still affect us even until this day. All the Bibles that we read today eventually had their roots from the works of St. Jerome.

May St. Jerome intercede for us and pray always for us sinners, that we can remain in the grace of God, and receive His heavenly blessings. May God be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

Monday, 30 September 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 46-50

One day the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side.

Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 30 September 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 101 : 16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23

O Lord, the nations will revere Your Name, and the kings of the earth Your glory, when the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in all His splendour. For He will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for future ages, “the Lord will be praised by a people He will form.” From His holy height in heaven, the Lord has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death.”

Your servants’ children will dwell secure; their posterity will endure without fail. Then the Name of the Lord will be declared in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship Him.

Monday, 30 September 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Zechariah 8 : 1-8

The word of YHVH, the God of hosts was directed to me in this way, “I am intensely jealous for Zion, stirred by a burning anger for her sake. YHVH says : I will return to Zion and live in her midst. Jerusalem shall be called City of faithfulness and the Mountain of YHVH of hosts, the Mountain of holiness.”

YHVH, God of hosts speaks, “Old men and women will again sit in the squares, each with a stick in hand on account of their great age. The squares of the city will be filled with girls and boys playing.”

YHVH, God of hosts declares, “If that seems impossible in the eyes of those who have returned from exile, will it be impossible for Me as well?” – word of YHVH.

YHVH, God of hosts says, “See, I am going to save My people, bringing them from the east and from the west, and they will live in Jerusalem. They will be My people and I shall be their God in truth and in justice.”