Homily, Thursday 26th Week in the Ordinary Time, Year B, Mem. of St. Jerome

The Word is Perfect and Glorious

Nehemiah 8:1-12
Psalm 18:8-11
Luke 10:1-12

Brethren going through today’s readings meditatively considering St. Jerome might give one goose pimples.

The first reading Nehemiah 8:1-12, shows such an aura that accompanies the reading of the Law in the Old testament. Remember that the old testament prefigures and prepares the new testament while the new testament fulfills and completes the old testament.

In the new testament lies the perfection of the Word. However, the traces of this perfection could be found in the Old testament like in the reading of today Nehemiah 8:1-12.

Here, we see the preparation that surrounds the reading of the Law by Ezra in front of the people: old and young, men and women. Ezra himself read from an exalted position. He alone stood in such position because of the Word he read. He read from the book of the Law, that’s the Torah.

Seven noble men on the left including Ezra and another seven on the right accompanied or stood by the reading of the Law.

Apart from Ezra the proclaimer, more thirteen of the Levites interpreted the Law, the word. So, fourteen noble and sacred men spoke on the Word.

In all, we have fourteen men accompanying or standing by the Word and fourteen noble sacred men speaking on the Law, the word. Thus, the thirteen who were “Levites, explained the Law to the people while the people remained standing.) And Ezra read from the Law of God, translating and giving the sense, so that the people understood what was read.”

Seven is a biblical symbol of perfection. But this time, it’s twice. These including (the silent attention, the standing while it’s been read) show the degree of the perfection and glory of the Word in the Old Testament. Imagine then about the perfection and glory of that which the old testament prefigures, the New Testament; Christ.

Can these ever explain and equate enough that we stand while reading the Gospel from the New Testament, on Christ himself, who is present in the word we proclaim? He is the Word.

This entails that as the Word is read anywhere, the Word ought to be broken, explained and interpreted not by everyone but those who are meant to do so. Men who could be called Levites in our own days. Their mouths speak with understanding (Malachi 2:7).

The people themselves were movedto tears by the the Word they heard because the Word is alive and active (Heb 4:12).

Yet amidst the tears,the people were calmed and made merry because they had understood the meaning of the word they heard, because there were right and proper interpreters.

This perfection and glory of the Word is depicted very well in the Gospel. Here, Jesus sent the seventy two in pairs to go about proclaiming the Word, which is Himself, the fulfilment of the Old testament, of the Law. In him, the Kingdom of God is alive.

It’s therefore of no surprise that he ordered them to say everywhere they go that “the kingdom of God is very near to you.”

The Word establishes the Kingdom of God everywhere it’s proclaimed, by bringing about good changes in body and soul. Perfection and glory accompanies such establishment. That’s why the Word heals, transforms, energized, directs etc.

The saint, St. Jerome we are commemorating his memorial today is a perfect example of a man whom the Word transformed and healed. In Jerome we see what it meant that the Word is perfect and glorious, alive and active; that the precepts of the Lord gladden the heart. The Scripture proclaims the Lord’s precepts.

He was never born a Christian, but died as one because of the love for and of the Word. Such was the energy from which he translated the Sacred Scripture into Latin.

May we ask for the grace and will to meditate on the Sacred Scripture and seek it’s proper understanding like St. Jerome, for ignorance of the Sacred Scripture is the ignorance of Christ.

©Fr. Henry Charles N Umelechi


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