Fall is finally upon us! For most of the country, this is a time of harvest and a time to store up for the winter. For us, the first sign of the weather getting cooler means can finally comfortably work and play outdoors!
Good & gracious Lord, thank you for making the desert come to life again with rain and cooler temperature. Thank you for the fertile lands that yield food for our families. Please give us the strength to be the conduits by which you feed those who are hungry physically and spiritually. Amen As we celebrate God's goodness and praise him for the bountiful harvest that results, literally, in our daily bread, so must we give thanks for the spiritual nourishment and life-giving revelation God provides us in Sacred Scripture. Jesus himself cites the bible when the devil tempts him in the desert, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
Thanks to St. Jerome whose feast day we celebrate today, we too can read and cite the bible (without having to translate it from an ancient language). St. Jerome is the patron saint of archaeologist, translators, librarians, scholars, students, and historians. However, he is most famous for his translations of the gospels into 'common' language (The Vulgate) which, in the fourth century A.D. Roman Empire was changing from Greek to Latin. Pope Damasus saw a need for an authorized bible in Latin so he commissioned Jerome, his secretary who was not only trilingual but also formally trained in the Latin classics and grammar. It is said that Jerome must have been inspired by the Holy Spirit because after the translation of the Gospels, he decided by his own initiative work to also the Old Testament to Latin which took 15-20 years. He could have made it easier on himself by simply revising the already circulating Greek versions, The Septuagint. But he insisted on considering the original Hebrew books in his translations, even consulting Jewish rabbis. This proved to be an unpopular decision, especially at a time when the Church was trying to distance itself from it's Jewish roots. But he stood his ground on delivering what he thought was the most authentic translation, even when opposed by Church doctors like Augustine.
St. Jerome, you are the single most influencial person with respect to how we Catholics read the bible today. Your translations were not only an academic exercise, but a gift from God, to you, to us. Thank you for sharing your charism of language and interpretation, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you and work through you. By the power of God, you have made The Word accessible to us and to all with whom we share it. St. Jerome, Pray for us that we too allow the Holy Spirit to kindle in us a burning desire to study and spread God's message. Amen
Once a free-spirit in his youth, St. Jerome converted and spent his life as a scholar and a monk. He fervently taught Christians that reading the bible is a necessity, not an option or luxury, to the path of Salvation.