Saint Jerome is something of an enigma. He wasn’t the epitome of the quiet, scholarly saint that one might think him to be. Perhaps unfortunately, he was known for his quick temper and sometimes mean-spirited pen. If they had email in those days, he’d probably be the one to fire off a quick nastygram without even taking time to think about it.
But we need to be extremely thankful for Saint Jerome as we open up the Scriptures today. Without his tireless efforts, our understanding of Sacred Scripture would be quite limited, I think. It was Saint Jerome who spent so much time translating the Scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, creating what was know as the Vulgate translation. This was the standard text of the Scriptures for a long time in the Church, and is still an important basis for today’s English-language and other translations. His commentaries on the Scriptures are important to us to this very day.
Jerome was a pre-eminent scholar. He studied the Scriptures all the time and was an expert in Biblical languages including Hebrew, Greek, Chaldaic and of course Latin. He also spent a good deal of time in the Holy Land, walking the path of Christ, staying in the places where he stayed, even living for a time in the cave believed to have been Jesus’ birthplace. He wasn’t just a scholar studying the Scriptures from a theoretical viewpoint; he was instead devoted to the Scriptures, pouring through them with love. He once said that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” To know the Lord, we have to immerse ourselves in Scripture.
For those of you who are part of our Biblical Institute or our Bible Studies, today is a Patronal feast day for you. Saint Jerome’s love of Scripture has made it possible for all of us to come to know Christ in a more intimate way through our own study and devotion to the Word of God. Saint Jerome, pray for us, and lead us back to the Scriptures with the same love and devotion you had.