Commentary on the Gospel of
Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
She doesn’t care about what I’ve accomplished. She doesn’t care about all of the “important” and “great” things I do. Juniper is the three-and-half-year-old daughter of close friends and her only desire is that I am truly present to her – paying attention, listening to her stories, and swinging her around in a circle until I am too dizzy.
From the readings today, I offer this reflection on how God wants us to be close.
In the first reading, we hear of the return of the people of God to Jerusalem. “I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.” I recently found myself feeling a little distant from God through the, mostly small, choices I was making that were little steps away from God. Through grace and prayer, I was able to name this and am now intentionally choosing the, mostly small, ways that bring me ever closer to God – to returning home with God. That’s exactly where God wants me to be – close!
In the Gospel, we hear Jesus noticing the intentions of the disciples in their boasting about their importance, their greatness. Jesus pulls a child close and says to these boasting disciples: “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Juniper does not want to be received with my phone in my hand replying to emails or text. Juniper wants to be received with attentive presence. She wants to know that I am watching her every dance move or that I am listening closely to the silly story she is telling me about a friend at school. She wants me to be close, to be present, to be attentive. And in this, she knows how I love her.
Isn’t that what God wants of me? God wants me close. God desires my presence and attention. God wants to know I love Her in the same ways Juniper wants to know too. (Although I wouldn’t mind if God was okay skipping the spinning in circles until we were too dizzy!)
From what we hear in today’s readings, Love is not about importance or greatness. Love is about proximity, presence, and attentiveness.