Thursday, September 29, 2011

Deliver Us, Pardon Us

September 30, 2011

Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church

By Melanie Rigney

(The exiles prayed:) “Justice is with the Lord, our God; and we today are flushed with shame… We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God, nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us.” (Baruch 1:15, 18)

Help us, God our savior, on account of the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name’s sake. (Psalms 79:9)

(Jesus told his disciples:) “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)


Lord help me, Jesus, I’ve wasted it so/Help me, Jesus, I know what I am/Now that I know that I needed you so/help me, Jesus, my soul’s in your hand. (Chorus of “Why Me, Lord?” written by Kris Kristofferson)


Wow, some cheerful stuff today, eh? The first reading from Baruch and today’s psalm detail the Israelites’ despondency after the Babylonian army’s destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Both readings also reflect at least some acceptance of responsibility. The psalmist asks for pardon; in the opening passage of the Book of Baruch, the exiles acknowledge their disobedience to the Lord.

The Gospel reading is full of warnings as well, warnings that can be boiled down to a single sentence: Ignore the Good News at your own peril.

The readings are all about or at least imply fire and brimstone, hell and damnation. What kind of images of suffering come to mind? Cities burning? People screaming in agony from beheadings and stabbings? How about some less dramatic images of our reactions when we know we’ve disappointed God. Maybe we avert our eyes when we encounter someone we’ve treated in a less than Christlike manner. Or maybe we toss and turn in bed, unable to sleep because our conscience is bothering us. Or maybe we overindulge in food, alcohol or drugs to avoid coming to terms with un-Christian thoughts or behavior? Like the Israelites, we ignore the voice of God at times, and there are plenty of ways, visible and not so visible, in which knowledge of our sins manifests itself.

How can we avoid the Lord’s wrath? Just flip those closing lines from today’s Gospel:

Listen to Jesus and His messengers.

Accept Jesus and His messengers.

Accept Jesus and you accept God.

And live.


Examine your conscience with your confessor or in private conversation with God. Where are you ignoring the Good News and thereby rejecting the Lord? Ask for pardon and deliverance. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel—and how much easier the right path becomes.