Homily for Thursday of the 26th week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
Theme: IGNORANCE OF THE SCRIPTURES IS IGNORANCE OF GOD
By: Rev Fr. Utazi Prince Marie Benignus
Homily for Thursday September 30 2021
MEMORIAL SAINT JEROME, PRIEST, DOCTOR
Nehemiah 8: 1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12; Psalm 19: 8, 9, 10, 11; Luke 10: 1-12
I pray for you: May the Lord Jesus continue to call you to Himself and to the spread of the Gospel and may you rejoice in hearing Gods Word and sharing it with others. AMEN
It is surprising that God has chosen to be so involved in the lives of human. It is more surprising that the Lord Jesus wants us to be involved in helping others experience the graciousness of God. God is intimately connected to us and wants us to bring that intimacy to others so they will know how loving He is. One way which we are reminded of the greatness of the Lord Jesus is to reflect on the Word of God and then be willing to let the Word transform us and flow through us to others. This is the call of all Christians to be instruments of God in the proclamation of the Good News. Sharing the Word of God should bring joy and a sense of fulfillment that no earthly rewards can match.
Todays First Reading describes how the hidden Book of the Law was read to the recently returned exiles. As the Book of the Law is proclaimed, the people originally feel fearful, but later joyous. According to earlier chapters in the book of Nehemiah, while the Temple in Jerusalem was being restored, a lost (at least one not seen before in their lifetime) copy of the Law of the Lord was found. At the re-dedication of the Temple, the Book of the Law (Deuteronomy) was read to the assembled people. At first they were saddened because they and their ancestors had not been as faithful to the Law as they could have been. Nehemiah and Ezra encourage the people to rejoice because their being joyful that God communicated with the people should be the source of strength for doing Gods will in the future.
Our psalm reminds us that Gods law is one means through which God communicates the divine message to us and that should be a source of fulfillment and joy. It recounts how knowing and keeping Gods law brings positive effects. The message of Gods law produces refreshment for the soul, trustworthiness, wisdom, joy, insight, purity, and truth. Accepting what God wants us to do can be worth more than material wealth or sweetness in our mouths.
The Gospel presents Jesus sending forth an additional seventy-two individuals who are to take nothing with them except the zeal to preach the Good News to others. As Jesus sends forth a group of seventy-two disciples, He reminds them that the only thing they need to take is the enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel with others. They do not need extra clothes or money, or anything else. God will provide for them as the people who accept Gods Word take care of their needs. If people of a town are not open to the Message they share, the missionaries should not stay in that town.
Today is the memorial of one of the erudite Scripture scholar, a priest and a doctor of the Church. Saint Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate (the name for the Latin edition of the Bible/Scriptures). It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work. The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church. In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Chaldaic.
Today, the readings tell us that Ignorance of the Scriptures is Ignorance of God. In order to know God more, or worship God more fruitfully, we must know the Scriptures well. In the Scriptures, God is revealed. In the Scriptures, God laid down his rules that will guide us into his Kingdom. In the Scriptures, we see the restoration plan God has for us, the healing remedies from God, and all the goodies from God. Knowing the Scriptures makes us to be more committed to the things of God.
Human wisdom and thoughts are nothing when compared to the wisdom and thinking of God.
Gods Word can be a blessing to those who accept it and to those who share it. At the same time, Gods Word can be a source of challenge and condemnation to those who refuse to listen and obey.
The Good News which we are called to proclaim should be a source of power and enthusiasm for us as we live it out in our lives. The Gospel-led life will be a comfort to the disturbed and a disturbance to those who are too comfortable in their lives. There is real power for change in living out and sharing the Word of God. God transforms and provides all that is needed for those who proclaim the Gospel in word and action. God also transforms those who hear the Good News.
Summary of todays readings: first reading describes the effect that Gods Word can have on individuals (both those who listen and those who proclaim). The psalm and the other readings speaks well of effectiveness of Gods Message. The Gospel also speaks of the negative effects of not responding to the Good News. Those who refuse to open themselves to Word of the Lord Jesus will suffer the consequences.
This reflection should lead us to be more proactive in the way we proclaim the Gospel; particularly by the way we live it out in our daily lives. We must model the message we proclaim. People need to see how we are transformed and edified by the Word we share. If we can do that, we will live out the words attributed to St. Francis: Preach the Gospel at all times; and, if necessary, use words!
Dear Sisters and Brothers, todays readings are meant to stress the complete commitment one must make to being a disciple of Jesus. One must risk all and forsake all if one is to follow the Lord Jesus.
*MEDITATION* What excuses have I made when I have been challenged to put Gods work and Gods will first in my life? How do I balance my commitment to family and work with my living out my faith relationship with the Lord Jesus? What is the most difficult aspect of living out this balance? How can I support and encourage others to make Gods will their number one priority?
*PRAYER* Lord God, through the continued outpouring of Your Holy Spirit, inflame the fire of Your love within us so that our lives proclaim Your Message to the people whom You have placed along our journey. May we find the source of strengthen and enthusiasm in our sharing of Your Word. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
*O DIVINE WORD, WHO TOOK FLESH FOR HUMAN SAKE, REDEEM US IN OUR SITUATION*
© Rev Fr. Utazi Prince Marie Benignus