Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church
(Job 3:1-3.11-17.20-23; Luke 9:51-56)
We sometimes see images of St. Jerome with a lion at his side. Those who know little about him may think that Jerome befriended lions much like St. Francis of Assisi befriended the wolf. But much more likely the lion represents St. Jerome himself. Jerome displayed anger for his enemies that could flare into a rage. The heretic Pelagius was one who felt the incandescence of Jerome’s anger.
In the gospel Jesus’ disciples James and John demonstrate a similar tendency to rage. Learning that a Samaritan village will not welcome the Lord, they want to call down fire upon the place. They have not taken to heart Jesus’ instructions for missionaries. Jesus told his apostles that if a village refuses to accept them, they were to “shake the dust your feet in testimony against them.”
Jerome is a saint despite his irascibility not but because of it. We may be sure that he mastered it before entering the Kingdom of God. Jesus counsels forbearance and forgiveness when people rebuke our best efforts. Uncontrolled anger has no place in his following.