For the entire week, the first reading has been taken from the Book of Job. Even if we rarely open our Bibles, this name, undoubtedly, has an instant recall.
It is a common knowledge that Job practically lost all his possessions: his cattle were either destroyed by plague or carried of by robbers, his children were all killed in a tragedy, and even his wife left him when he refused to turn his back on the Lord in the midst of these misfortunes.
Over the past days, those who came for Mass or read the daily Mass readings learnt about his sufferings. And for the past days, God has remained silent so far.
Today, we heard about God’s answer! And boy, God did prepare His homework! His answers though were not declarations, but a series of interrogations.
Like a machine gun, He issued his questions one after the other.
To these, Job was able to mutter, “How can I answer you? I will put my hand over my mouth.” He was reduced to silence.
If God spoke in a series of questions in the first reading, we heard Him throwing exclamations in the Gospel. We could not immediately recognize that it was Him; it’s as if we’re listening to the President talking.
But our Lord Jesus here was talking to the apostles. He was preparing them for the worse. There are people who are obstinate, hardheaded, completely attached to their sinful way,
and we could not do anything to convince them to change.
Make no mistake about it, we are all sinners. The only difference is that some sinners keep fighting and some others have given up.
All of you have finished your retreat. In Batulao, you experienced the warm hands of God caressing you, comforting you, embracing you. Do we let this presence of God in our lives bear fruit? Will we respond to Him with love?
You strove to make good confessions, and attempted to firmly hold on to your resolutions. But weeks and months after you encountered the Lord in Batulao, are you still in touch with Him?
If there is one thing the devil excels at, it is to discourage us. The enemy spends his energy trying to convince us to give up: “You will never get rid of these sins” he suggests in your ear, “This is too hard for you,”
“There is no point in going to confession: you will need to confess the same sin again in no time…”
Do these sound familiar?
When we are tempted to commit sin, how do we attend to the temptation?
St. Jerome, the saint we honor today, is known for his terrible temper. But he is also known, too, for having a splendid way of not cooperating with the devil. If he is feeling tempted, he would be up all night to continue to translate the books of the Bible to Latin.
His propensity to sin has given led him to the opportunity of becoming a saint.
St. Jerome found God in the Bible, and he cherished Him there. For most of you, in your last retreat.
Because we have encountered God, life will never be the same again.
It should never be the same again.