Sunday, October 4, 2020

Strangers and exiles

Kevin Williamson this morning reacting to a letter from Pope Francis about Saint Jerome:
“This, too, shall pass” is a proverb that we remember during hard times, but it is equally illuminating advice for good times, too. Abraham Lincoln cited it in a speech, marveling at its wisdom: “How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!” Caravaggio was called upon to paint Saint Jerome at least eight times, and in the three surviving paintings the saint is depicted in much the same attitude, working or meditating at his writing table, his only company a skull — the memento mori — to remind him that even a work for the ages will pass away, because the ages themselves must pass away.

The skull on Saint Jerome’s desk, like the example of his life, points us in the direction of the question: “What matters? If everything I know and love, and everything I fear and hate, and everything I have and everything I want will, in the end, be dust, and then not even dust — then what matters?” Great men suffer affliction, empires fall. The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was haunted by the many tombstones he saw inscribed: “The last of his house.” The questions make us uneasy. ....
And I thought of this:
These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.