St. Jerome, Model of Devotion

Luke 9: 57-62
Job 9:1-12,14-16 / Ps 88: 10-15

No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.
(Luke 9:62)

What matters now is what we sow,
Not what we lost or left behind. . .
He who “sets a hand to the plow”
Has set God’s kingdom on his mind.

As they went on their way, a man said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

Reflection

Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel presents to us a clear idea of what it means when we are called to serve, or give witness for the kingdom of God. Jesus was actually referring to the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21) when he called Elisha to service, as the latter was plowing his field. But in the case of Elijah, he allowed his protégé Elisha to tarry by slaughtering his oxen and giving a feast to his kinsmen before he followed Elijah. This is not to be so with Jesus. The conditions for following Him are absolute, and leave no room for concessions. Nothing in this world is more important than God’s call to mission. Neither a burial nor a celebration takes priority or precedence. No ifs or buts, no fear or doubt – that’s what true mission in proclaiming His kingdom is all about.

It is but a small sacrifice to drag one’s self out of bed in the early hours of the morning to compose a reflection of the day’s Gospel reading and send it to one’s friends (and even total strangers), most of whom may not even have the time or interest to read what you have struggled to compose. But this has been a personal mission for the Lord for more than ten years now, and even if only one or two recipients bother to respond (by email), that is enough to keep the fire of love for God’s Word burning. Perhaps this advocacy was inspired by the writings of great writers like St. Paul, St. James, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and the more contemporary ones like C.S. Lewis, Oswald Chambers, G.K. Chesterton, and countless other modern evangelists. What a rich heritage of writers God has provided for all Christians to strengthen and deepen our faith and Christian tradition. I suppose one who has been touched by the life and lessons of our Lord Jesus Christ has a moral obligation to share his thoughts with others. Because, as St. Jerome once said, “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Jesus Christ.” In fact all the saints and great writers of the Church are our models and inspiration in living a life totally devoted to following Jesus Christ. Through the centuries they have inspired millions of Christians to study and meditate on Scriptures. This is a necessity, and never just an option in our life.

As the message in today’s Gospel tells us, God is not interested in our past, but what we are doing now to prepare ourselves for the real Life in His kingdom. He had given us His Best – His Only Son – for our salvation. It’s only right that we give back our all, which is really not worth much compared to what He has given. If we put God first above everything, He will reward all our efforts and sacrifices beyond our loftiest dreams.

Be always with me, Lord, so that I may never be shaken, for in You my heart is glad, my soul rejoices, my body dwells secure. Show me the right path (Psalm 16:9-11) that I may persevere in serving You until the end of this earthly journey. Amen.

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