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Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Friday, September 29, 2017



Zec 2:5-9,14,15a; Jer 31:10-12ab,13; Lk 9:43b-45

“I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.”

As the Wisdom of the Lord reveals, the mercy he shows is equal to his majesty. Saint Jerome used his tongue to reveal his mercy and majesty by praising the LORD and arguing with the enemies of the LORD. In his chosen exile for five years in the desert Saint Jerome admitted to Saint Eustochium that he struggled with his vision of dancing Roman maidens by fasting for weeks at a time and by watering the feet of the Crucified with his river of tears. In our joy and in our trials Saint Jerome summons us to surrender to the LORD and share in his passion, death, and resurrection.

Jeremiah had much bad news for the People of God. There were bright moments in his preaching, however, when he gave great reassurance and wonderful comfort. The image of a shepherd is central to this prophecy from our responsorial. The LORD is the Good Shepherd who gathers the scattered tribes of Israel. Indeed, the LORD ransoms Jacob and redeems him from the hands of the conqueror. The People mount the heights of Zion with shouting, and like a stream they rush into the valley of the LORD’s blessings. Even the childless virgins have reason to rejoice; indeed, they join in the wedding dance of the LORD. Even the old and feeble men dare to join the festivity. The LORD is, even now, turning our mourning into joy. Even now, the LORD consoles us and gladdens us after long years of sorrow and exile. The Prophet Zechariah joins with Jeremiah to reveal the only source of rejoicing in the City of the LORD. The Lord Jesus tries to teach his disciples what he still tries to teach us today. Without the cross there is no reason to rejoice back then or in our own day.

The LORD opened the prophet’s eyes and he saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. This vision unfolded in a dialogue between the prophet and the engineer. In the gospel that follows this reading the Lord Jesus attempts to have a dialogue with his disciples, but they were afraid to ask him for any clarification about the mystery of being “handed over”. They did not understand and they did not want to understand. Zechariah, however, did understand the urgency of measuring Jerusalem. He knew that the LORD wanted to see how great is its width and how great is its length. Zechariah listened to the angel who instructed him about the burning desire of the LORD to become for Jerusalem an encircling wall of fire. Indeed, the LORD was coming to be the glory in her midst. It is the glory of the LORD dwelling among his people that will open wide their city like the open country because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst. Many nations will come to Jerusalem to join themselves to the LORD and to His People. This is the great vision of Zechariah because this is the LORD’s own dream for His People. The LORD wants all men and women to join his company and become one with His People, and the LORD himself will dwell among us so that we can live in peace with God and each other. All for His Glory!

Again Saint Luke is gentle with the Apostles by including them in the larger group called disciples. Everyone who followed the Lord Jesus was clueless when it came to his passion predictions, not just the Apostles. No one understood him when he proclaimed, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” They may have thought to themselves, who is this of whom the Lord speaks? Or what does it mean to be handed over? Perhaps this is another one of those enigmatic sayings that he will explain down the road. They were wise enough to know these sayings were worth remembering, but they had no idea what these things meant, and they were afraid to ask the Lord what he could possibly mean. So they continued on the way to Jerusalem in blissful ignorance, and that’s the way they preferred to walk. We of course have gained wisdom of heart and we are not afraid to talk about death, even our own death. Perhaps we have numbered our days aright and been filled with the wisdom of the Cross of Christ. Perhaps we can at least begin to walk in such wisdom.

 

 

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