Homily on the readings for Sept. 30, Memorial of St. Jerome, Thursday of the XXVI week in OT, year II
“I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.” “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
These phrases from today’s readings summarize much of the Christian message. The first one, taken in the context of the first reading, reflects Job’s belief in an eventual corporeal resurrection, when he would rise again for eternal life and see God. That hope is confirmed – and, in fact, made possible – by Christ’s death and resurrection; Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God, in which God’s grace gives us freedom from sin and death. That was the message He sent His disciples out to preach, as recounted in today’s Gospel reading: the Kingdom of God is at hand!
This message should transform the life of anyone who believes in it! First of all, we need not be overburdened with the concerns of this world. As Job experienced very acutely, our possession of the goods of this world is only temporary. Our hope should be in God, not in things. So much so, that when Jesus sent his disciples out, He sent them with the bare minimum of supplies. They were to trust in God’s Providence working through the people to whom they preached. This is not to say that people should not concern themselves at all with material things, but that our earthly concerns should be guided by our spiritual ones, and take a back seat to them.
Secondly, we should feel the urgency of this message. Each person only has this one lifetime to learn about this hope – and there are many who have not yet heard the message. Jesus himself pointed this out when he said that the “harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” That invitation remains in effect today. Every Christian is called either to spread the Gospel directly or to be part of the spiritual and/or material “support team” for those who do. We need to ask God to send more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, so that there will be more and more men and women dedicated to spreading the good news at home and abroad.
We also need to pray that the message will be well received. The Lord says that it will not go well for those who reject the message; He says it will be worse than for Sodom, a city that God destroyed with a volcano for its sinfulness. We don’t want that for anyone. Our own example is often the most convincing argument. Let us pray that may God grant to us and to all a robust faith in Jesus’ teaching, firm hope in the resurrection, and burning love for Him, so that we may repeat with total conviction the words of Job: “from my flesh I shall see God; My inmost being is consumed with longing.”