+ The gospel passage today, on this feast of St. Jerome, is an interesting one. Jesus tells us that saints and sinners will be found both in the world, and even in the Church, until the time of sorting at the end of the world. He is also telling us that it will be helpful for us if we could tell the difference between saints and sinners; and of course, we ought not be among the latter group (the sinners) if we can possibly avoid it. We have been given what we need to stay on a straight and narrow path and we must cling to him, we must cling to Jesus.
St. Jerome was born about the year 342 in a small town near the head of the Adriatic Sea. His father, a Christian, took care that his son was well instructed at home, and then he sent him to Rome, where he received an excellent education, including Latin and Greek. He read the literatures of those languages with great pleasure. His aptitude for oratory was such that he may have considered law as a career. He acquired many worldly ideas, made little effort to check his pleasure-loving instincts, and lost much of the piety that had been instilled in him at home. Yet, he got in with a Christian crowd of friends and eventually ended up being baptized by Pope Liberius in 360. His intellectual curiosity led him to explore other parts of the world. While in Aquileia, he made friends among the monks of the monastery there. Then it was off to Treves, in Gaul, where he decided to renounce all secular pursuits to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to God. It is interesting how a vocation to one's life work comes about!
The rest as they say is history: Jerome spent a lot of time delving into the study of scripture, both in itself and its commentaries by other writers. Then Jerome himself began to write about his findings. Later, it was found to be beneficial for Jerome to become a priest to serve the needs of the young church. He reluctantly submitted to ordination but wanted to remain a monk and a recluse, which is pretty much what happened. His great work was his translation of the Scriptures from Greek into Latin. But he also wrote endlessly defending the Word of God and for this is considered the greatest of all of the doctors and fathers of the Church. His most often used advices are these: that "ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ;" and that "it was of no use just to read about or study the Word of God (in scripture), one has to act on it!
In the first reading today St. Paul says the same thing to Timothy: all scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work!
May we become more familiar today with Christ and his word, (and not remain blissfully or purposefully ignorant on certain topics), and then may we act on that familiarity: and be doers of the word and not just hearers! The difference between the saint and the sinner is that the saint listens and tries to act…while the sinner doesn't even really hear at all, and therefore acts aimlessly!
This day, are you more a saint, or a sinner?