Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Will Bring Them Back

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun.  I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.  They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.  Zechariah 8:7-8
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest.  Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.  For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”  Luke 9:46-48

Lord, teach me to seek You, and reveal Yourself to me when I seek You.
For I cannot seek You unless You first teach me, nor find You, unless You first reveal Yourself to me.
Let me seek You in longing, and long for You in seeking. Let me find You in love, and love You in finding. Amen.  (Prayer by St. Ambrose)

If part of the prophecy in the Hebrew Bible was that the temple would be destroyed, another equal part was that the temple would be restored.  However, the terms of this Great Restoration is not about architecture or construction.  It is not about political power and glory.  Instead, it is about faithfulness and justice.
Jesus does not take an example of greatness from among the generals of the Roman army.  Jesus does not put the Pharisees on a pedestal.  Just like the Father, Jesus points out that we will be saved by the least powerful and least “great” among us – the children. 
How interesting that this passage is selected on a day when we remember one of the original doctors of the church.  While today there are now nearly three dozen saints with this designation, before the sixth century, there were only four. 
The title “Doctor of the Church” is not an academic course of study that one can seek to attain.  The title is given to individuals who the Church recognizes as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.  In the Western church, four eminent Fathers of the Church attained this honor in the early Middle Ages: Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, and Saint Jerome whom we remember today.
Jerome started out life studying the classics but turned to the Bible -- translating it from the Greek or the Hebrew.  His work is responsible for much of what became the Latin Vulgate Bible -- his most important achievement according to historical sources.  
Even though he also was a noted historian, Jerome helped to bring knowledge of the Bible to the people by translating it from foreign tongues.  Our ability to study Sacred Scripture today is a direct outgrowth of the work of St. Jerome.  In fact, because of his critical commentary and controversies about Rome, he left the city when he was only in his late 30s and lived out his life in Palestine, far from the center of the Church but close to its roots. 
According to Catholic Online, what has made his name so famous was his critical labor on the text of the Scriptures. The Church regards him as the greatest of all the doctors in clarifying the Divine Word. He had the best available aids for such an undertaking, living where the remains of Biblical places, names, and customs all combined to give him a more vivid view than he could have had at a greater distance.

The day of remembrance for this Doctor of the Church comes one day after we heard the Gospel about the rich man and Lazarus.  That rich man was condemned for his sins of omission.  St. Jerome made the most of the opportunity to build the church by using his talents for the good of all -- unlike the rich man who hoarded his wealth for himself. 
Keep St. Jerome in mind today as an inspiration to your piety, study and action.  How will you use your talents today?  

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