4th October 2020 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

30th September 2020 marked the 1600th anniversary of St Jerome’s death and, coinciding with that occasion, pope Francis has released the apostolic Letter Scripturae Sacrae Affectus in praise of this saint who is mostly associated with the Bible. After a historical review in which an outline of Jerome’s life is given, the Apostolic Letter reflects on several parts of the saint’s life. Jerome was born in Dalmatia, moved to Rome and died in Bethlehem. In his conversion journey from a classical education to believe in Christ, he carried with him a group of followers who lived in a community based around the Word of God. Jerome’s greatest achievement was to translate the Bible into the common language of the time, namely, Latin. A translation which became normative and extremely popular; and has been known as the Vulgate.

According to the Holy Father, there are several lessons we can learn from Jerome. First, the need of ascesis when studying in general and when perusing Sacred Scripture in particular. Then the need to develop a love for Scripture. When study the Sacred text one should not do it only as an intellectual exercise but also as a way of getting to know Jesus Christ whose presence is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Love for the Scripture infused every aspect of Jerome’s communications and can lead us in the same path. Jerome also teaches us of the importance of a study of Scripture which is done within the Tradition of the Church. Through our study, both personal and academic, the eternal Word of God can be interpreted for our lives and thus the Word of God becomes nourishment for us. All of us should have access to the treasures of our Faith which have influenced the culture and artistic representations of our society.

By translating the Bible into Latin, Jerome inculturated its message for his generation. We are called to do the same, that is, to pass on the message contained in Scripture to our generation through the means available to us. Ultimately Jerome is an example to follow, whereby, we are invited to love what he loved, first of all, to love the Church, to love God and the way he communicated to us through the written text, which can become part of our life.

Whereas saints are held to us for encouragement and only imitation, this document is certainly an encouragement for all Christians to renew their relationship with the Word of God and an invitation to desire a closer union with the author of our lives and he who inspired Scripture, namely, God.

Fr Javier

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