30Sep 30 September. Saturday, Week 25

Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church

1st Reading: Zechariah 2:1-4, 10-11 (NRSV)

Jerusalem will be a haven of peace for all nations

I looked up and saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.”

Then the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him and said to him, “Run, say to that young man: Jerusalem shall be inhabited like villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and animals in it. For I will be a wall of fire all around it, says the Lord, and I will be the glory within it.”

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst,” says the Lord. “Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.”

Gospel: Luke 9:43-45

Jesus foretells his death, but his disciples fear to ask about its meaning

All the crowd were astounded at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all that Jesus was doing, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.


Life’s possibilities

The Zechariah text is taken from a series of visions in the early part of the prophecy. Visions are necessary for survival when times are bleak, and during the early postexilic period the temple was still in ruins, the people indifferent to the temple and their high priest Joshua was clad in filthy garments (Zech 3:3). This was prophet who coined the phrase, “day of small beginnings” (4:10), but under the impact of other prophets (Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah), Zechariah dreams of a better future and of a Jerusalem so peaceful that no walls are needed, having the glory of the Lord in its midst.

Zechariah’s inspired message is that we don’t need to stay gloomy and pessimistic. Each sorrow can be transformed into a reason for hope. The prophet speaks in God’s name, “I will favour Jerusalem and the house of Judah; do not fear. These are the things you should do: speak the truth to one another; let there be honesty and peace in the judgments at your gates.” He combined visions with earthy practicality, for he appears also as a moral reformer. Zechariah strikes us as the type of young person to whom the wisdom writings were addressed, “Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes.”

In the Gospel Jesus warns his disciples about the difficult time ahead, when he will be “delivered into the hands of men.” If they failed to understand this, it was because they were unwilling to believe their ears. They would not question him about it, in case Jesus might repeat what they thought he’d just said. But in any case he repeated the warning as he drew closer to Jerusalem. Hope for resurrection grew out of the reality of death. Like Zechariah, Jesus could see visions to sustain him through the bleakness of life and arrive at life’s eternal possibilities.

How our views can change

The admiration of others can be quite fickle, here one day and gone the next. Jesus was very aware of that in regard to himself. At times everyone was full of admiration for all that he did. But at the very moment when he was highly admired as a celebrity he says to his disciples, “the Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men.” Jesus was not driven by the need for celebrity. He was driven by the desire to do God’s will, to complete the work God had given him. That is why he had to go to Jerusalem, dangerous as it was, because that city too needed to hear the goods news of the presence of God’s rule in Jesus’ life and ministry.

The example of Jesus invites us to ask ourselves, “What is it that drives us?” Is it the need for other people’s approval and recognition or is it something deeper? We are all called to make Jesus’ desires and priorities our own, to be about God the Father’s business as he was, to keep doing God’s will and sharing in God’s work, in keeping with whatever energies and gifts we have at this particular time and place in our life. Then we will know not just the surface pleasure that comes with human approval but the deeper joy that comes from living in tune with God’s purpose for our lives. {MH}


Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church

Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus (347-420) from Stridon (in 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 Latin (Western) church.


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