“For all the saints who from their labors rest, all who by faith before the world confessed, Your name, O Jesus, be forever blest.” Hymn 174, verse 1, Lutheran Book of Worship
Dear Redeemer Family:
As November will begin with All Saints’ Day, I thought to share a bit of some of the saints whom we commemorate during the month of October as a preparatory exercise. It is fitting since Article 21 of the Augsburg Confession states that the saints are “due the threefold honor,” something which many Lutherans have forgotten. Let’s look at three very different saints.
We’ll start at the end of September. September 30th is St. Jerome, translator and teacher, who died on this date in the year 420. Jerome is remembered as a biblical scholar and translator. Rather than choosing classical Latin as the basis of his work, he translated the scriptures into the Latin that was spoken and written by the majority of the persons in his day. And, to do his translation, he taught himself Hebrew and Greek, so that he could use the original sources. His translation is known as the “Vulgate,” from the Latin word for common. It was the official translation of the Bible for over a thousand years! While Jerome is remembered as a saint, he could be anything but saintly. He was well known for his short temper and his arrogance (he was purposely not invited to several major Church events because of it), although he was also quick to admit to his personal faults. Thanks to the work of St. Jerome, many people received the Word in their own language.
October 4th, we commemorate someone quite unlike St. Jerome. St. Francis of Assisi, renewer of the Church, died on this date in 1226. Francis (from whom the present Pope took his papal name) was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. In a public confrontation with his father, he renounced his wealth and future inheritance and devoted himself to serving the poor. Francis described this act as being “wedded to Lady Poverty.” Under his leadership the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) was formed, and they took literally Jesus’ words to his disciples that they should take nothing on their journey and receive no payment for their work. Their task in preaching was to “use words if necessary.” Francis had a spirit of gladness and gratitude for all of God’s creation, including animals, to whom he regularly preached.
On October 23rd, we commemorate St. James of Jerusalem, martyr, who died around the year 62. James became an early leader of the Church in Jerusalem. He is described in the New Testament as the brother of Jesus, and secular historian Josephus calls James the brother of Jesus, “the so-called Christ.” Little is known about James, but Josephus reported that the Pharisees respected James for his piety and observance of the law. His enemies had him put to death, on the steps of the Temple in Jerusalem. Traditions says that James spent so much time in prayer, that his knees were so heavily calloused that they resembled those of a camel.