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JPII and St. Nicholas

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Ignoratio Scripturarum Ignoratio Christi"


St Jerome (340 – 420)


My confirmation Saint is Jerome, the doctor of the Church. His pugnacity and attention to Scripture are what I admire about him most, not to mention his legacy of monasteries and convents that bear his name throughout the Holy Land and Rome.
St. John Paul II mentioned the Saint on a few occasions, the primary one being his quotation of “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”:

Despite the great impetus that the Second Vatican Council gave to biblical studies and the biblical apostolate in Christian communities, there are still too many of the faithful who are deprived of a vital contact with Sacred Scripture and do not adequately nourish their faith with the riches of God’s word contained in the revealed texts. Further effort is therefore needed to give them wider access to the Bible. “Ignorance of Sacred Scripture means ignorance of Christ”, as St Jerome said, since the whole Bible speaks of him (cf. Lk 24:27).

Personally, I did not begin reading the Bible until I was 18. Nearly a quarter century of ignorance of Christ is a long time! I am grateful for St. Jerome’s intercession, especially his commentary on Psalm 42 which helped me to make sense of quite a bit when I did begin to read the Bible.

Elsewhere, JPII quotes Jerome on the prophet Isaiah:

In his commentary on Isaiah, St Jerome develops this concept with a reflection that takes in the entire passage: "Every iniquity, oppression and injustice is a decision for bloodshed: if one does not kill with the sword, one kills by intention "and shuts one's eyes, to blot out the evil': happy the conscience that does not listen to nor contemplate evil! Whoever is like this will dwell "on high", that is, in the Kingdom of Heaven, or in the highest cavern of the soundest Rock, in Christ Jesus" (In Isaiam prophetam, 10,33: PL 24, 437, p. 367).

Thus Jerome introduces us to a correct understanding of that "closing of the eyes" referred to by the Prophet: it is an invitation to reject absolutely any complicity with evil. As it is easy to perceive, the principal senses of the body are challenged: indeed, the hands, feet, eyes, ears and tongue are involved in human moral behaviour.