THE 1600TH ANNIVERSARY OF ST JEROME
St Jerome is a milestone in the history of the Church. His work on the Bible and the translations and commentaries cannot be underestimated. His importance is such that the Church dedicated a special day, Sunday, September 27, for his commemoration. He may not be in the limelight as some saints are who enjoy special devotion such as St Anthony, St Jude or St Francis of Assissi. The exact date of his birth in Dalmatia is unknown, but said to be around 347; the date of his death is given as September 30 420. He received the sacrament of baptism as an adult. Very early in his faith development he recognised the importance of the Bible in its original texts. For that purpose, he first learned Greek, then Hebrew. After much to and fro between cities and many encounters with the great personalities of his time, including becoming an adviser to the Pope, he finally settled in Bethlehem. St Jerome could be very controversial. Drawn to a strict form of life, he was highly critical of the worldly lifestyle of the priests of Rome. The consequence was that he had to leave Rome. He was very sensitive, easily provoked and scathingly critical. In all of this, he remained loyal to the Church and his ideals of leading a strict life.
St Jerome is recognised for his tireless efforts to translate the Bible. His commentaries to the different books of the Bible became standard work for centuries and have had an influence right into modern time.
With this feast day, our attention goes again to the significance of the Bible in our lives. Far from just being a book, it is the inspiration by the Holy Spirit to shape and direct our lives. Anyone who turns to the Bible with an open and searching mind will find a guide to a lifestyle that embraces all aspects of life. To begin with, the Bible direct us straight to the personal God Who revealed Himself to His people. In His Son, Jesus Christ, we find the full revelation of the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and his redemption for us.
In fact, it is worth the while to discover the Bible as a form of spiritual guide as a means to mould ourselves on the teachings and morals entailed in the texts. All spirituality, no matter how new or modern it claims to be, must have a biblical foundation. Our Christian faith today must be based on it. In all the changes we experience, the Bible remains our foundation and source of creativity as followers of Jesus Christ.
In the next days we will attempt to develop some outlines for a spirituality based on the Bible. It will dwell on our understanding of God, our self-development and creativity, our communication with others, our passion and mission for the
world, our experience with sin and boundaries, the boundaries of life posed by suffering and death and our hope in everlasting life.
Let us get ready to celebrate St Jerome. The best way to do it is to honour his passion for the Bible by fostering a yearning for a deeper understanding of our sacred scripture.
Fr Ivanhoe Allies (Bothasig)
September 17, 2020