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Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)
The young teacher dragged herself into the faculty lounge one day. To no one in particular, she sighed, “I can’t get through to my class. I try everything, from fun games to dire warnings, but I can’t get these kids to listen to me. Some days they drive me crazy.” An older teacher, well regarded and perceived as the staff’s strictest disciplinarian, nodded and said, “Don’t forget to love them.”
Jesus never forgot to love us. His love is so radically different from what we conceive love to be that it’s impossible to fathom it without the grace of the Holy Spirit. For our sakes, Jesus “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51), even though he knew that horrible suffering and an agonizing death awaited him there. He knew that he would face rejection from those he had taught and loved and that even his closest friends would abandon him. Still, he went. And he went ready to forgive all of them—and all of us.
Too often our approach is like the inexperienced teacher’s. We take on some service project, or we do something special for our family with the notion that we will receive thanks, respect, and honor for our dedication. But when things fail to materialize as we had hoped, we feel hurt. Have you ever known the bitter sting of ingratitude or rejection from someone in your family or community? How did you react? Contrast this with the way Jesus reacted to the “unclean” Samaritans in today’s Gospel. His disciples, who should have known better by that point, were the only ones to receive a rebuke!
God’s Son became flesh and died on the cross so that we could learn how to love each other as his Father loves us. We are all called to love the people in our lives with Jesus’ love. And we can do that only as we yield to the Holy Spirit’s grace. If we open our hearts to the Spirit, who fills the Church with every good gift, we can learn to serve humbly and selflessly. It is not always easy, but we should never forget that Christ is in us. We can do all things through him who strengthens us!
“Lord, a harvest of souls is ready. Send me out as a laborer filled with your love and compassion.”
Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23; Psalm 88:2-8
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