30Sep 30th September. Tuesday, Week 26

Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church.

Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus (347-420) from Stridon, modern Albania, was a priest, theologian and historian, who wrote many works of biblical scholarship while living a quasi-monastic life in Bethlehem. At the request of pope Damasus he translated the Bible into the Latin version (the Vulgate), which for more than fifteen centuries was normative in the Western church.

First Reading: Job 3:1-3

(Job’s anguished lament at the misfortunes heaped upon him.)

After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said:

“May the day of my birth perish,
and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’
“Why did I not perish at birth,
and die as I came from the womb?
Why were there knees to receive me
and breasts that I might be nursed?
For now I would be lying down in peace;
I would be asleep and at rest
with kings and rulers of the earth,
who built for themselves places now lying in ruins,
with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child,
like an infant who never saw the light of day?
There the wicked cease from turmoil,
and there the weary are at rest. “Why is light given to those in misery,
and life to the bitter of soul,
to those who long for death that does not come,
who search for it more than for hidden treasure,
who are filled with gladness
and rejoice when they reach the grave?
Why is life given to a man
whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?

Gospel: Luke 9:51-56

(The long journey narrative begins as Jesus proceeds towards Jerusalem.)

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

The winding journey

Today we are invited to share in a journey to Jerusalem with Jesus, following the will of God. The way may be winding or thorny, and is partially formed by the environment around us. Hopefully it will be mainly marked by health and kindness, unlike the harsh life that Job has so mournfully described.

The Gospel begins Luke’s long journey narrative. All the way to the end of ch. 19, Luke assembles sayings of Jesus which Matthew and Mark scatter elsewhere in their stories. Luke thereby makes a theological (not a geographical) statement that everything points mystically towards Jerusalem, that is towards our union with Jesus in his sufferings, death and glorious resurrection which focus on Jerusalem.

The journey narrative opens with Jesus being rejected in Samaria. These half-caste people in central Palestine had been rejected by the conservative Jews and by this time they were fiercely hostile to Jerusalem. Jesus will not let his disciples pray for the destruction of the Samaritans, but gives them time, just as poor, tormented Job needed time to curse and to be angry. We learn later how many Samaritans were converted to Christianity soon after Pentecost. Even while Saul was persecuting the church, the deacon Philip went down to Samaria preaching the Gospel and curing many people. The joy in that town rose to fever pitch, a very far cry from today’s rejection story. Luke’s account is preparing for this moment of glory. The Bible respects the different stages in life and enables us to see each of them as a way of following in the footsteps of Jesus.