Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor – Readings

Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Psalm 118; Matthew 13:47-52

The Gospel reading is taken from Matthew. It is the end of chapter 13 which consists of a set of parables told by Jesus and all relating to the Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of Heaven, as Matthew prefers to say). It is the third of the five discourses given by Jesus that we find in Matthew’s Gospel.

The last parable speaks of the end of the world, the time of judgement. Jesus compares it to a net which fishermen cast into the sea. When they pull it in, they find there are fish they want to keep and others which they will throw away.

Jesus says that at the end of the world it will be like that. Those who are good will be set apart for eternal happiness while others will be rejected into a life of eternal suffering. It is important for us to realise that this choice is not really made by God but by us.

During our life, we have the choice to be on the side of God, to walk the Way of life that Jesus has proposed to us, a life of love and service and mutual caring, the choice to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus. On the other hand, we have the freedom to say ‘No’, to live a life of total self-centredness, doing whatever we feel like with total disregard for the needs of those around us. If we persevere like that to the end, God will say to us: “Your will be done” and we will go into an eternity of total isolation.

Finally, Jesus concludes the parables by saying:

Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

‘Scribe’ here seems to refer to those who have teaching authority in the Church, especially the Twelve taught by Jesus and chosen by him to continue his mission. They know both the teaching of Jesus (the new) and the Law and the Prophets (the old) and will incorporate both in their teaching, as understood in the light of the new. In many ways, this is a description of Matthew’s Gospel in which he often shows that the Old Testament is being realised and fulfilled in the New.

Jerome, we know, was deeply learned in the whole of the Scriptures and wrote much to help us in our understanding of it. Every Christian needs to be as familiar as possible with the Word of God if they wish to be truly faithful to the call of Jesus.

In the First Reading from the Second Letter to Timothy, the author (presumed to be Paul) speaks about the value and importance of Scripture:

…from childhood you have known sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

It is not just knowledge and information we get from the Scriptures but true wisdom, true insight into the meaning and direction of our lives. And its foundation is our faith, our total trust that the truth is in the Way of Jesus.

Paul says:

All scripture is inspired by God…

As such, we call it the “Word of God”. And so it is our guide in evaluating our thinking and our values and the goodness of our words and actions. And, Paul says, it:

…is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness so that the person of God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

Jerome’s whole life, of course, was based on these ideas. He was himself steeped in the Scriptures and they were the guide of his life and he helped others to take it as their guide too. What role do the Scriptures play in my Christian living? Central or peripheral? It is never too late to start.

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