Wednesday, 30 September 2020 : 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, on this day we heard of the words of Job, the suffering servant of God, as he described the vastness of God’s majesty and power, His infinite greatness and the absoluteness of His will. And we heard how Job lamented and stated just how small and insignificant he was amidst all those things. In the grander scheme of things, whatever Job had experienced, was nothing but a tiny drop in the vast ocean.

To understand all these, we must see it in the context of Job’s great suffering. Job had lost everything that was dear to him, all his possessions and even his beloved family, all in one fell swoop as Satan struck at him to try to make him abandon his faith. Job however remained faithful even when Satan tried harder and struck at his health, making itchy and painful boils to appear all over his body.

Job remained faithful to God despite all of that, and he remained firm in his conviction that God was not the One Who made him to suffer, and even his personal afflictions could not sway him to think otherwise. Nonetheless, all these, coupled with the fact that some of his companions argued that Job must have committed serious sin to have deserved such punishment, as at the time, afflictions as suffered by Job were often seen as the sign of divine punishment and displeasure.

That was why Job despaired and uttered such words, as he desired to be helped by God and to be freed from his sufferings, but he thought that it was by his own fault that he has deserved all of those, and thus, with lamentation, he accepted his fate humbly, to suffer and remain obedient to God. Contextually we also need to realise that this was from a time when the fullness of truth of God’s providence has not been revealed yet.

Most importantly, we see how Job, although he was suffering and beset by many troubles, friends who abandoned him and even accused him of wrongdoing, he remained committed to God and to righteousness. And he blamed neither God nor the others for his misfortunes. And this is what each and every one of us need to take note of as we respond to God’s call highlighted to us in the Gospel today.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to those who followed Him and desired to follow Him what it means for all of them to follow Him and being His disciples. While it might seem that the Lord was very harsh when He said that those who have chosen to follow Him and looked back were not fit for the kingdom of God, and how He said that those who died ought to be left on their own to be buried, the Lord in fact wanted to emphasise and highlight that to be His follower is something that requires commitment from us, and that we may even have to make sacrifices at times.

Like Job, we must have faith and trust in God even when we have nothing left with us. If we still put our trust and depend on worldly attachments, then it will be difficult for us to endure in the path as Christians. It does not mean that we must literally abandon everything and leave all behind as those who followed the Lord had done. Rather, it is the attachment, excessive and unhealthy desires and temptations for worldliness that we must rid ourselves from.

Today, we should also look upon the inspiration and example showed by St. Jerome, one of the great Church fathers and one of the original Doctors of the Church. This year is also significant as this feast day today celebrating St. Jerome marked the sixteen centuries that had passed from his passing, and his contributions to the Church and the Christian faithful cannot be underestimated.

St. Jerome was particularly remembered for his compilation of the Latin translation of the Greek Septuagint Bible, which at that time had been the canon of the Scriptures of the Church. This Latin translation is known as the Latin Vulgate Bible, written in the contemporary or Vulgar Latin, and became the basis for many future versions of the Sacred Scriptures.

However, what was not often known was how St. Jerome was quite promiscuous and hedonistic in his youth, experiencing all sorts of worldly pleasures when he was still a pagan student of philosophy. But after years of discovery and journey, his conscience eventually led him to convert to the Christian faith and renounce all of us his past sinful ways of life. And St. Jerome devoted himself deeply into the study of the Scriptures, from which eventually would stem his works in the Latin Vulgate among many other writings.

St. Jerome also became an ascetic, spending his life in secluded cave where the Lord and Saviour Himself was born, in Bethlehem, for the rest of his life in the intellectual pursuit of faith, writing many treatises and writings on the matter of the faith that still influenced many even to this day. The life and works of St. Jerome is an inspiration for us, that as Christians we should leave behind our past life of attachments to worldly pleasures and instead seek to follow God with a new heart filled with faith.

Let us all discern our lives’ path going forward as we remember the story of Job, his sufferings and despite of all those, continuing to be faithful to God. And let us all be inspired by the story of the life and faith, the conversion and the dedication of St. Jerome, and strive to be holy and dedicated to God as he had done. May the Lord bless us always, and be with us, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 57-62

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples went on their way, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

To another, Jesus said, “Follow Me!” But he answered, “Let me go back now, for, first, I want to bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, leave them, and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Another said to Him, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” And Jesus said to him, “Whoever has put his hand to the plow, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Wednesday, 30 September 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 87 : 10bc-11, 12-13, 14-15

I spread out my hands to You, I call upon You every day, o YHVH. Are Your wonders meant for the dead? Will ghosts rise to give You thanks?

Is Your love and faithfulness remembered among those gone to the netherworld? Are Your wonders known in the dark; Your salvation, in the land of oblivion?

But to You, o YHVH, I cry for help; every morning I pray to You. O YHVH, why do You reject me; why do You hide Your face?

Wednesday, 30 September 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Job 9 : 1-12, 14-16

Then Job answered : “Very well I know that it is so. But how can a mortal be just before God? If one were to contend with Him, not once in a thousand times would He answer. His power is vast, His wisdom profound. Who has resisted Him and come out unharmed?”

“He moves mountains before they are aware; He overturns them in His rage. He makes the earth tremble and its pillars quake. He commands the sun, and it does not shine; He seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the skies and treads on the waves of the seas. He made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and every constellation. His wonders are past all reckoning, His miracles beyond all counting.”

“He passes by, but I do not see Him; He moves on, but I do not notice Him. If He snatches away, who can stop Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’ How then can I answer Him and find words to argue with Him? If He does not answer when I am right, shall I plead with my Judge for mercy? Even if I appealed and He answered, I do not believe that He would have heard.”

Monday, 30 September 2019 : 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, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding us about the matter of welcoming God into our midst, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, of the Lord speaking to His disciples on how they should welcome Him like that of a little child. And He made this comparison because a young child’s faith, unlike that of adults, is truly pure and genuine and not masked by other worldly desires.

That is why He reminded His disciples that they should welcome Him in the manner that those little children have welcomed Him. In that occasion, when the people brought little children to the Lord, His disciples wanted to prevent them and push the children away from Him, but the Lord rebuked them for doing something like that. For He wanted them to know that the Lord truly loves everyone without exceptions and His love for them is such that no one should ever be prevented from coming to Him.

And in the same way, we should not let ourselves to be prevented from coming towards God and loving Him, although the reality is such that we often keep God away from us and this is caused by our own preoccupations and attachments to the many temptations and desires present in this world. We are often too busy thinking about other things to be able to think about God or to love Him, because we love ourselves and the world so much more than we love Him.

That is why many of us are struggling in our faith, and we are unable to love God as we should have loved Him. We are unable to reach out to God with the fullness of sincerity and genuine love, as long as we allow ourselves to be tempted and pulled away from God’s loving and tender care. But God has always continued to love us all regardless, and He has always been faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us all.

In what He revealed to us all through His prophet Zechariah in our first reading today, we have heard just how much He loves each and every one of us, His beloved people, and how He wants to restore us and to bless us tremendously once again. God has always thought about us and committed Himself to us all by giving us again and again the wonders of His love, and there is no greater gift than the gift of His own beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

For through Christ, God has given us all the surety of salvation and new life in Him. Through Christ, God has showed us all what it truly means to love, and to love generously and tenderly, giving us His all in love, even if it means for Him to take up the unimaginably heavy burden of the Cross and enduring all those sufferings just so that He can save us from certain destruction because of our sins.

Are we able to love God in the same way that He has loved us all? Perhaps we should look at the examples set by His saints, those who have lived and gone before us, leading the path for us in holiness. And today we celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, a great saint and a very important Church father, one of the very influential leaders of the early Church, as one of the original Doctors of the Church.

St. Jerome was renowned for his great dedication to God, spending many years and decades in solitary isolation, loving God and devoting himself in prayer to God through an ascetic lifestyle. And it was also then that St. Jerome completed the Latin translation of the Scriptures, from the Greek Septuagint Scriptures into what would eventually be known as the Latin Vulgate Bible.

Through his many years of dedication to the Lord, St. Jerome showed us all what it truly means to love God with all of his heart and strength, and it was indeed certainly not easy, as he had to endure so many challenges, temptations and difficulties throughout his life. Yet, he made the effort to resist those temptations and strive to love God as best as he could. Are we able to do the same in our own lives, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all draw closer to God and let us love Him sincerely from our hearts, doing our very best to serve Him and to be His beloved children once again. May the Lord continue to bless us in all of our endeavours and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith. Amen.

Monday, 30 September 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, 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 2019 : 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 2019 : 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 the city of faithfulness and 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 declared, “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.”

Saturday, 30 September 2017 : 25th 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, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures speaking to us first of all from the prophet Zechariah who spoke about God’s dwelling amongst His people, for they are His people and He is their God. Many people would come to seek God and to be His people, and He would be their God.

Then in the Gospel today we heard Jesus our Lord speaking about the betrayal that would happen to Him, as His own disciple would betray Him to the chief priests, namely Judas Iscariot. Yet the disciples failed to understand this, even after Jesus had repeated the same prediction a few times. That is because they were not able to open their hearts and minds to welcome God’s truth into them.

In our world today there are still a lot of people who have not yet known God or understood His truths and teachings. And in fact, within the Church itself, for various reasons, there are still many of the faithful who have not possessed an adequate understanding of the faith, who do not live the faith as how it should have been lived.

That is why, there is a need for all of us Christians to be closely attached to the Word of God, through which we gained the knowledge of our faith, by the guidance from the Church, that we may better appreciate and understand what our faith is really about, and what is required from us all as Christians. And this Word of God, is the Holy Scriptures, God’s very own words as passed down to us through His prophets and messengers.

It is through the Scriptures that all of us read about the history of our salvation, beginning from the time when mankind first fell into sin and darkness, and then how God had, in numerous occasions, intervened for the sake of humanity, saving them from their distress, among them include the saving of Noah from the Great Flood that destroyed all the wicked men, and His salvation of the Israelites from the slavery in Egypt.

And we can know all these because of our exposure and regular immersion with the texts from the Holy Scriptures. It is apt and fitting today that we also celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, one of the great Church fathers, an ascetic and pious man, who was remembered especially for his translation of the Greek Septuagint Bible into the Latin Vulgate Bible, giving more people access to the wealth of messages and knowledge contained within the Book of the Word of God.

All of us need to ask ourselves, and reflect on how much effort we have put into ensuring that we constantly and regularly make the effort to read and understand the Holy Scriptures. Certainly, many of us had not done what we should have done, and as expected from us, because many of us would have found it even a waste of time and meaningless for us to read the Bible, less so to understand its passages.

Yet, without understanding the Scriptures, it will be difficult for us as Christians to understand what it is that God wants us to do in our lives. Consequently, we will end up getting more and more distant and separated from God, and then lose our way in this journey of life, easily falling into the traps that Satan and his allies have prepared for us, that we may end up facing our downfall through sin.

Let us all therefore follow the examples of St. Jerome, who devoted himself thoroughly to the Lord, in studying His will and commandments, and even unto translating the entire Scriptures for the benefit for the people of God. Let us all spend more and more time dedicating ourselves to read the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, with the guidance of the Church and adhering to the teachings of the Church, that we may draw ever closer to the Lord.

May God be with us all, and may He continue to allow the faith in us to grow and deepen as we spend more and more time in dedication to Him. May the Word of God be our guide and inspiration in life. Amen.

Saturday, 30 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.