There is a book that I would always carry with me – except that it is almost too large and heavy for me to lift! It is called The Jerome Biblical Commentary, a title given it, not for the author but in honor of the man who, in the 4th century, translated the Bible into Latin, the scholarly and universal ecclesial language until the 20th century. “The Jerome” (as many fondly call the book) is the most commonly used commentary in the Catholic Church today, the work of many Scripture scholars, gratefully received by students like myself and others always willing to go deeper in finding meaning in scriptural texts.
Jerome was a traveler, leaving his birthplace of Stridon in Dalmatia in the Middle East to travel to Rome, Germany and Palestine where he settled at the end of his life, choosing to live a life of prayer, penance and study in Bethlehem. His travels remind me of the life of St. Paul. I am always amazed at those early seekers whose passion for knowledge or the desire to share God’s word led them to travel far distances regardless of difficulty or danger. In addition, the fact that Jerome spoke five languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic in addition to his own), learned no doubt for the purpose of understanding the ancient texts which he was to translate, is a feat I do not expect from the people of his time. The greatest surprise to me in what I read of Jerome this morning, however, was that Jerome was plagued by having a terrible temper! How does that square with the personality of such a saint?! Was it that passion that allowed him to complete such a work as a translation of the entire Bible?
Once again, I am reminded that God calls us all – no matter our character flaws – to the service of love. So even in days of torrential rain, like this morning, I am compelled to get up, get dressed and get going!