Saint Jerome (347-420 AD)
Feast Day: September 30
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ
I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
Therefore, I will imitate the head of a household who brings out of his storehouse things both new and old, and says to his spouse in the Song of Songs: I have kept for you things new and old, my beloved. In this way permit me to explain Isaiah, showing that he was not only a prophet, but an evangelist and an apostle as well. For he says about himself and the other evangelists: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news, of those who announce peace. And God speaks to him as if he were an apostle: Whom shall I send, who will go to my people? And he answers: Here I am; send me.
No one should think that I mean to explain the entire subject matter of this great book of Scripture in one brief sermon, since it contains all the mysteries of the Lord. It prophesies that Emmanuel is to be born of a virgin and accomplish marvelous works and signs. It predicts his death, burial and resurrection from the dead as the Savior of all men. I need say nothing about the natural sciences, ethics and logic. Whatever is proper to holy Scripture, whatever can be expressed in human language and understood by the human mind, is contained in the book of Isaiah. Of these mysteries the author himself testifies when he writes: You will be given a vision of all things, like words in a sealed scroll. When they give the writings to a wise man, they will say: Read this. And he will reply: I cannot, for it is sealed. And when the scroll is given to an uneducated man and he is told: Read this, he will reply: I do not know how to read.
Should this argument appear weak to anyone, let him listen to the Apostle: Let two or three prophets speak, and let others interpret; if, however, a revelation should come to one of those who are seated there, let the first one be quiet. How can they be silent, since it depends on the Spirit who speaks through his prophets whether they remain silent or speak? If they understood what they were saying, all things would be full of wisdom and knowledge. But it was not the air vibrating with the human voice that reached their ears, but rather it was God speaking within the soul of the prophets, just as another prophet says: It is an angel who spoke in me; and again, Crying out in our hearts, Abba, Father, and I shall listen to what the Lord God says within me.
I will enter God’s marvelous dwelling place
As the deer longs for running water, so my soul longs for you, my God. Just as the deer longs for running water, so do our newly baptized members, our young deer, so to speak, also yearn for God. By leaving Egypt and the world, they have put Pharaoh and his entire army to death in the waters of baptism. After slaying the devil, their hearts long for the springs of running water in the Church. These springs are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah testifies that the Father is like a fountain when he says: They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, to dig for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. In another passage we read about the Son: They have forsaken the fountain of wisdom. And again, John says of the Holy Spirit: Whoever drinks the water I will give him, that water shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into eternal life. The evangelist explains that the Savior said this of the Holy Spirit. The testimony of these texts establishes beyond doubt the three fountains of the Church constitute the mystery of the Trinity.
These are the waters that the heart of the believer longs for, these are the waters that the heart of the newly baptized yearns for when he says: My heart thirsts for God, the living fountain. This is not a weak, faint desire to see God; rather the newly baptized actually burn with desire and thirst for God. Before they received baptism, they used to ask one another: When shall I go and see the face of God? Now their quest has been answered. They have come forward and they stand in the presence of God. They have come before the altar and have looked upon the mystery of the Savior.
Having received the body of Christ, and being reborn in the life-giving waters, they speak up boldly and say: I shall go into God’s marvelous dwelling place, his house. The house of God is the Church, his marvelous dwelling place, filled with joyful voices giving thanks, and praise, filled with all the sounds of festive celebration.
This is the way you should speak, you newly baptized, for you have now put on Christ. Under our guidance, by the word of God you have been lifted out of the dangerous waters of this world like so many little fish. In us the nature of things has been changed. Fish taken out of the sea die; but the apostles have fished for us and have taken us out of the sea of this world so we could be brought from death to life. As long as we were in the world, our eyes looked down into the abyss and we lived in filth. After we were rescued from the waves, we began to look upon the sun and look up at the true light. Confused in the presence of so much joy, we say: Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, in the presence of my savior and my God.