Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s readings, we hear about vineyards. I am assuming, most of you are like me and know very little about them, how to till and prune, or even the work involved. We mostly just enjoy the fruit they produce. And many of us can say something similar about the scriptures. While we are familiar with many parts of scripture because we hear so much of it at Mass, the question we need to ask ourselves, are we getting all the fruit we can?
On this past Wednesday, September 30, on the 1600 anniversary of the death of Saint Jerome, Pope Francis released the Apostolic Letter Scripturae Sacrea Affectus or “Devotion to Sacred Scripture”. In this letter, Pope Francis starts by saying “He thus entrusted himself to the Lord whom he had always sought and known in the Scriptures.” Pope Francis continues by saying “In his attentive listening to the Scriptures, Jerome came to know himself and to find the face of God”. Is not that what each of us desires, to know ourselves and to find the face of God? Jerome was a scholar and say his studies were “as a spiritual exercise and a means of drawing closer to God.” It was his study of sacred Scripture which “led him to know Christ.”
While very few of us are biblical scholars, that does not prevent us from spending time praying with the scriptures. To allowing God to reveal to us, what it is He is trying to share with us as individuals, from getting to know Christ. But there are times we need help because some “Biblical passages are not always immediately accessible.” There is a “need for the mediation of an interpreter, who can exercise a ‘diaconal’ function on behalf of the person who cannot understand the meaning of the prophetic message. Here we think of the deacon Philip, sent by the Lord to approach the chariot of the eunuch who was reading a passage from Isaiah, without being able to unlock its meaning. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ ask Philip, and the eunuch replied: ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’”
Because of the work of St. Jerome, 1600 years ago, the scriptures are much more accessible. We have updated translations in our own languages. Many bibles have extensive notes and study aids. There are many books and commentaries to help us understand scripture. Even in our parish, there are multiple weekly bible study groups. There are biblical resources available at olbh.formed.org.
Pope Francis tells us, “For him, study was not limited to the years of his youthful training, but a continual commitment, a daily priority.” “Jerome … continues to teach us the meaning of Christ’s love, a love that is inseparable from an encounter with his word … a restless and impassioned desire for a greater knowledge of the God who chose to reveal himself.” To follow “the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: ‘Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand.”