Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The intellectual and irascible saint: Daily Mass Homily--O_26th_T (St. Jerome)

            St. Jerome is one of my top ten favorite saints.  As a bishop and doctor of the Church, Jerome was the most brilliant scripture scholar we have ever seen.
            In the course of studying the Bible, a good question to follow is how texts written in Hebrew and Greek eventually got into English.  Jerome had a critical role in this process as he translated the entire Bible into Latin.  This is now known as the Vulgate translation of the Bible.  As Latin was the language of the Roman Empire, this translation impacted the future accessibility and study of the Bible.
            Another amazing accomplishment from St. Jerome is his comparative texts.  He eventually translated and transcribed a text that compared the Hebrew, Greek and Latin side by side!
            Jerome didn’t just study the Bible.  He prayed with the Scriptures and preached about their importance.  His most well known quote captures his mission: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  He maintained that to know Jesus, we must know the Bible!  He also compared the words of Scripture to the Body of Christ.  He said that, just as the priest is careful with the Eucharist not to drop a single crumb, so too we must listen attentively at Mass to the readings to prevent a single word from falling to the ground.
            Jerome had a unique personality.  Often we think of the saints as gentle and charming individuals.  Jerome was anything but and is known as the irascible saint.  His brash personality was constantly on display in his interactions with Christians and non-Christians and permeated his preaching.  We see in Jerome how God can use us as we are, and that there is no mold for sainthood.
            Finally, Jerome strove for virtue through an ascetical life.  He was frequently tempted to fall to lust, and to combat this he learned Hebrew!
            Through the intercession of St. Jerome, may the Word of God set our hearts on fire!
            St. Jerome, pray for us!

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