In the Liturgical Calendar today we celebrate the life of Jerome. In the Catholic church he is known as a “Doctor of the Church,” a title given to those individuals who have contributed greatly to the theology and doctrine of the church. Jerome is accorded this honor and title for a number of reasons, but chiefly is his translation of the bible, an undertaking which took him a majority of his life to complete. His translation of the bible commonly called today The Vulgate Bible.
The collect, or opening prayer, for Jerome is as follows:
“O Lord, O God of truth, your Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give you thanks for your servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have labored to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we pray that your Holy Spirit will overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, will transform us according to your righteous will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
One of the things that I have always been struck by with holy scripture is how one can open the bible and read a passage one day and have it mean something profound and unique and meaningful and then hours, days, weeks, even years later, read the same passage and have a totally different response to the exact same words. That “lantern to our feet and a light upon our path” of the holy Word of God changes to be and mean something different and fresh every time we read it.
The challenge is to realize and to see how, within ourselves, that living Word, as the collect for Jerome so beautifully puts it, “will transform us according to your righteous will.” At moments those transformations are obvious and clearly before us. At other times it may be hours or days before we realize the effect and impact that a bible passage, and indeed, Jesus, our risen Lord, has left an indelible mark upon us.
The Epistle reading for Jerome’s feast day (2 Timothy 3:14-17) speaks directly to the power and the basic necessity of holy scripture in our lives:
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
Let us go forth today, knowing that we are equipped for every good work, and that when the darkness of the world creeps into our lives that we have the light of both the holy scriptures and the pattern and example of Christ to always be our guide and illumination.