TESTAMENT: St. Jerome By Terry Rainey

Word: TESTAMENT
Word Count 496

St. Jerome
By Terry Rainey

On a cold, Lenten Saturday, OLPS faced St. Jerome in CYO basketball. It was my mother’s turn
to drive, so Martin walked to our house and we picked up Kevin Kepler. Both were staying the night.
Kevin was the 8 th of 12 kids, so it was always mayhem at their house. I knocked hesitantly, hoping
Mr. Kepler wouldn’t be the one to answer the door, but he did and said that Kevin was getting ready, and
take a seat. I took a seat. He asked who we were playing. When I told him, he said that St. Jerome
translated the Hebrew bible to Latin in the fourth century, but never accepted payment for his writings.
He told critics don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. In the 1500s, Mr. Kepler said James Tyndall was
burned at the stake for translating the bible into English. I never knew how to respond to Mr. Kepler, but,
thankfully, Kevin lurched in, and we escaped.
Kevin was our sixth man. Something crazy always happened when he played. Sparks flew. But
SisterX had suspended him for the Ash Wednesday bullseye on his forehead. Kevin quietly took the rap
for it, and didn’t squeal. Another example of his loyalty. Kevin could take a hit and keep on ticking.
He’d been slugged by his older brothers and father quite a bit, but he never complained. His father
quoted scripture when disciplining, so Kevin had collected bruises and Biblical knowledge.
In the car, wanting to cheer up Kevin and aware of Martin’s Old and New Testament ignorance, I
suggested playing bible trivia. We named our two favorite plagues: Martin chose locusts and lice, and I
took frogs and boils. Kevin preferred pestilence and slaying of the first born, perhaps thinking of his
brother Walter.
Then we said bible names that made us laugh. I started with Melchizedek and Ezekiel and
Habakkuk. Kevin came up with Leviticus, Hezekiah, and Ishmael. Then Martin added Samson, Medusa,
and Spiro Agnew.
Next was our favorite story. Moses, Kevin said. He lived to be 120, older than SisterX, and he
looked like Charlton Heston. Martin mentioned the Ax of the Apostles, which was used to chop off
Pharisees’ heads. I liked Solomon splitting a child, which we often invoked when dividing a Baby Ruth
bar. We chanted:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
None of them work in the Pentagon.
We beat St. Jerome 29-22, but we played badly. We missed Kevin’s energy. That night, while
we watched Get Smart, I thought about Kevin taking the rap for me, about my sinfulness and my need to
repent. Sister Mary Xavier constantly reminded us that people suffered for our sins, and Lent gave us a
chance to atone. She urged us to attack sin with hammer and tongs, like little blacksmiths, our souls like
anvils.
But how complicated life seemed, considering all the centuries piled up, people being burned at
the stake, and horses’ mouths, not to mention Spiro Agnew.

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