HOMILY WEEK 26 05 – Year II
Discipleship as Humble, Repentant Faith:
Memorial of St. Jerome
(Job 38:12-40:5; Ps 139; Lk 10:13-16)
Have you ever thought of what it must have been like for Jesus to have seventy disciples following him? Who did all the cooking? Where did they stay?
As disciples of Jesus today, we are being invited by the readings and this memorial of St. Jerome, into a humble, repentant faith and intimate relationship with Jesus.
There is a dynamic link of all three readings today, all pointing towards a faith acceptance that leads to humble repentance.
In the first reading, God interacts with Job out of love, who is like a child struggling with a challenge too big for him or her. Job is trying to make sense of his world that is falling apart by justifying himself, arguing with his friends, and shaking his fist at God for treating him so unfairly.
God, however, is confident in Job’s integrity and faithfulness, so God allows Job’s outrage to storm against God. Finally, God responds to Job by gently leading him into an inner journey of greater awareness of his smallness and God’s greatness, reducing him to silence. God knows Job inside out, as God knows us, and loves him too much to leave him in his bitterness.
Through it all, God does not condemn, but rather gently admonishes Job for complaining about his lot in life, helps him see how he has spoken out of turn, and invites him to repentance, to metanoia. Job comes to understand that, as the psalmist says, no matter where he flees, no matter how low he sinks, “even there your hand shall guide me, and your right hand hold me fast (Ps 139:10). Job responds by humbly repenting, doing metanoia, and accepting God’s will. Job’s heart is changed.
In the gospel, Jesus mirrors the first reading, admonishing the towns in Galilee for their lack of faith and failure to repent and accept the will of God in their lives. Then, in a way very similar to the psalm, Jesus adds a delicate note that truly affirms his disciples, those who do respond to him, which hopefully includes all of us, that we are in an intimate relationship with him and the Father. It is a striking statement – those who listen to us, listen to him, and through him, they also listen to the Father.
A disciple, or mathetes in Greek, is a life-long learner, called to become a carbon copy of the master, and here, called into an intimate, personal, heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus and the Father. And because like Job, we are very human and certainly not God, a disciple is called into a process of constant metanoia, putting on our highest mind, being the very best version of ourselves that we can be, and that means repentance, growth, change and healing. Finally, a disciple is one who listens attentively to the master, who tries to hear not just with one’s ears, but also with one’s heart, to the Word of God.
Today the Church invites us to honor and emulate a great example of someone who truly lived these teachings, St. Jerome, born in Dalmatia about 342 and baptized in Rome by Pope Liberius. Having experienced a vision of Christ, Jerome withdrew into the Syrian desert for four years, praying, fasting and learning Hebrew. He was ordained in 377. Jerome’s mastery of language enabled him to translate the Hebrew and Greek books of the Bible into Latin, the language of the common people, called the Vulgate. In the 16th century, the Council of Trent declared Jerome’s Vulgate an official text of the Catholic Church.
Jerome’s rhetorical skill coupled with his fiery temperament made him a fierce opponent in theological debate and involved him in controversy most of his life. His last years were spent in Bethlehem, where a group of noble Roman women under his spiritual direction used their wealth to build convents, monasteries and hospices. These consecrated women, led by St. Paula, are regarded in Church history as a powerful witness to early Christian feminine spirituality. Jerome died on this day in 420. His accomplishments in biblical studies are without parallel in Christian history. He is a Doctor of the Church, and patron of scripture scholars, translators, archeologists, librarians and students.
The Eucharist we celebrate sums it all up – we listen to Jesus, who then shares himself with us and empowers us to change our ways, follow him more closely, and do his will in our lives, as did St. Jerome.