St Jerome’s Homilies

Homily 34
On Psalm 107 (108)

There is no blessing and praising God in darkness, but only in light. I am going to say something startling. Even if we arise in the nighttime, we are blessing God in light. For the Christian, it is never night; for the Christian, the sun of justice is ever rising.

‘All alike have gone astray; they have become perverse; there is not one who does good, not even one’. Who, then, will lead Me into the fortified city? No one, Lord, since even Peter who had promised to die for You afterwards denied You. What is this city that is fortified? Hell, where they are shut in, and whence there is no departure. Truly, from that fortress no other except the Lord comes out victorious; that is in truth a fortified city. Moses could not depart from that city; Jacob, likewise, entered it and did not return. Would you know that he did not return? He says to his sons: ‘I will go down mourning, to my son in the nether world’. He descended into hell because Paradise had not yet been opened by the thief. That city is fortified against exit, but it is always open for entrance… No one descends into hell in triumph save You alone, Lord.

The instruction of the prophet is: When we are putting forth our effort, God helps us. ‘So then there is question not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God showing mercy’. Do you understand that it says: there is not question of him who is resting, nor of him who is sleeping, but of God showing mercy? Realize what that means: there is not question of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God showing mercy. If we neither will nor run, however, God will not come to help us. It is ours to will and to run, then, He will take pity on us. While the athlete sleeps, he loses the victory.

Let us cast all anxiety from our hearts and say: ‘Under God we shall do valiantly’. He will be our strength; He will be our bread; He will be our king. ‘It is he who will tread down our foes’. He crowns; He fights at our side with us; more than that, He even conquers in us. Why do we say this? ‘Under God we shall do valiantly’. Indeed, when we are courageous, it is He who tramples down our enemies. Scripture did not say, He will fight or kill, but He will tread down our foes. He will tread them down in such a way that if it is His will, He may strengthen and glorify them. Let us, therefore, bless God, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.