Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Lectionary: 459


“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes.





In today's first reading we hear God's challenge to the complaining Job, 
Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place for taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are shaken from its surface?
The authors of both texts suppose that we human beings are overwhelmed by displays of power. Anyone who can "shock and awe" his opponent commands submission.  Chorazin and Bethsaida should have fallen down in homage before Jesus. Job should have quit his carping when he God appeared to him in the tornado and demanded answers of his puniness. 

But they didn't fall down in worship and he didn't quit complaining. Nor did the Iraqis quit resisting the American invasion. They developed IEDs, suicide bombers and ISIL. 



Saint Francis also showed a stunning lack of respect for authority. He absolutely swore obedience to the pope and every bishop; but he also approached them with a confidence born of faith. He was not cowed by their clouds of incense and colorful red garments. Unshaven, barefooted and dressed in rags, he boldly requested special indulgences; first was permission to start a new Order of Friars Minor, though he had only twelve followers and no written rule; secondly, a special indulgence for pilgrims to his wayside chapel at the Portiuncula. There was opposition among the cardinals to these proposals but he asked the pope directly and the pope consented.

If we stand in awe before God, it's not because we have seen his mighty works, it's because we have seen his humility. "Look," Saint Francis said, "at the humility of God."

Only a God of supreme power can divest himself of power and authority to be humble. A lesser god is controlled by his power. 


The theologian Hans Urs Von Balthazar especially pointed that out to the 20th century church. Our God is a humble God who comes to us in the form of a helpless baby. The infant must be rescued by a peasant couple from Herod the Great. How awesome is that! He chooses to own nothing when he has command of twelve legions of angels. He will be arrested, condemned, tortured and crucified without complaint, like a lamb led to slaughter.


The world must always mock that display of power. They cannot see it. Only the faithful, the chosen, stand in awe of Christ Crucified and beg for his mercy. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.