Friday, 30 September 2022 : 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 Lord contained within the Scriptures, let us all be reminded of the need for each and every one of us to believe in the Lord and His words, and entrust ourselves to Him, with ever greater fidelity and commitment each day. All of us are reminded through what we have heard today, of the limitations of our human selves and existences, and how we have to open ourselves and listen to the Lord speaking to us and revealing His truth to us. We have to believe in Him and entrust ourselves in His hands.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of Job of what God spoke to Job towards the end of his tale, after he had gone through great sufferings and troubles, humiliations and attacks against him by even those who were close to him, because he was attacked by Satan, who took away all of his possessions, material wealth and even those who were dear to him like his own children. In the end, Job himself had to suffer from painful and itchy boils when Satan continued to strike against him in trying to make him to betray and abandon God. Yet, Job remained faithful to God and did not leave the Lord. Not even his sufferings and trials could dissuade him or tempt him away from the path towards God.

Job believed in God wholeheartedly even as he despaired. He trusted in Him even when he languished in the terrible state of health, and also derided and abandoned by even those closest to him, cursed and attacked because they thought that Job must have committed a great sin and disobeyed God to have suffered such a great calamity to himself and his family and possessions. Thus, Job and his so-called friends and companions ended up in great debate in which Job himself despaired and blamed himself for what had happened to him, and saying that God should just end his life there and then because of his unworthiness and lack of virtue.

It was there then we heard the Lord kindly rebuking His own servant Job as we listened to our first reading passage today. The Lord told Job that he should not have despaired and thought that he could comprehend the greatness of God, His thought and ways. Whatever happened to Job, God said that everything happened according to His will, and that it was by God’s will that everything came to be a reality, including what God Himself would do for Job at the end of all of his great misery and suffering. God granted Job double and more of all the things that he had lost earlier due to the calamities caused by Satan, and he regained all the joy and wonders of the world because of his unwavering faith in Him.

Then in our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus cursing several of the cities of Galilee such as Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin, all of these because those cities and their people had not believed in the Lord despite everything that He had done before them all. Unlike Job who had believed and trusted in the Lord, remaining faithful to Him even when he was surrounded by the various calamities and not able to see the Lord and His great deeds, the people of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin all had seen the many miracles and wonders of the Lord, and yet they had not believed in Him.

Instead, some among them doubted Him and questioned His authority and the veracity of His works and wonders. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law among them in particularly kept on hounding Him and His disciples in trying to find way to discredit Him and putting many obstacles in His path. That is part of the reason why the Lord, in His righteous anger, rebuked those cities and all those within them who had hardened their hearts and minds against Him, and refused to listen to Him and His truth, despite all the things and wonderful signs which He had performed before their own eyes, and which they had witnessed on their own.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we recall these words of the Scriptures, we are also reminded therefore of our calling as Christians to trust in the Lord despite our trials and challenges, because the Lord alone is the source of all our hopes and salvation. And today, we should be inspired by the examples shown by our holy predecessor in faith, one great saint and servant of God, namely St. Jerome, who was remembered most for his great contribution in the translation of the Bible from its Greek Septuagint and Hebrew origins to the Latin Vulgate version, which allowed the faithful people of God in many places to have greater access to the truth contained within the Word of God in the Scriptures.

St. Jerome translated the Scriptures as part of his many other works and writings, which he carried out for the good of the Church and the people of God. And in his role in assisting the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, who entrusted to him many matters including the translation of the Scriptures itself, and the reforms of the Church, many considered St. Jerome as a precursor of the Cardinals in the Church, as one of the closest confidants and collaborators of the Roman Pontiff. St. Jerome also encouraged greater holiness and sanctity among the people he was working and interacting with, encouraging them to be ever closer to God in their ways of life. He had to face many challenges and trials, oppositions and troubles, and yet, St. Jerome remained firm in his faith and trusted God in all things.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the good examples set by our holy predecessors, particularly that of St. Jerome whose memory we venerate today, as well as Job, the holy, devout and committed man of God. Let us all glorify God by our lives and let us entrust ourselves ever more to the Lord so that in all things, we may always be great and faithful witnesses of His truth, glory and resurrection. May God be with us always and may He bless us in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance.”

“Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better on the Day of Judgment than for you. And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead. Whoever listens to you listens to Me, and whoever rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects the One Who sent Me.”

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13, 14ab

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there, if I ascend the heavens; You are there, if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn, and settle on the far side of the sea, even there, Your hand shall guide me, and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

It was You Who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You.

Friday, 30 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Job 38 : 1, 12-21 and Job 40 : 3-5

Then YHVH answered Job out of the storm : “Have you ever commanded the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might grasp the earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it, when it takes a clay colour and changes its tint like a garment; when the wicked are denied their own light, and their proud arm is shattered?”

“Have you journeyed to where the sea begins or walked in its deepest recesses? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of Shadow? Have you an idea of the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Where is the way to the home of light, and where does darkness dwell? Can you take them to their own regions, and set them on their homeward paths? You know, for you were born before them, and great is the number of your years!”

Job said : “How can I reply, unworthy as I am! All I can do is put my hand over my mouth. I have spoken once, now I will not answer; oh, yes, twice, but I will do no further.”

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.

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.”