Meditation: Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture

St. Jerome

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”, says the Apostle. But the temptation to gloss over Scripture, to let it go in one ear and out the other, to fail to truly meditate upon and ponder the depths of God’s riches, to prevent the Wisdom of God from taking root in your heart comes all too easily. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. Read. Mark. Learn. Inwardly digest.

Today the church remembers Jerome, translator of Holy Scripture. He, like the rest of us, struggled with the sinful flesh which would prevent us from letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly. But he nevertheless knew well the importance of reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting Holy Scripture. It was for this reason that he devoted himself to not only learning the Biblical languages, but also to translating Scripture into Latin, the language of his day.

Careful study of God’s Word is never an end in itself. We don’t learn God’s Word so that we can keep it to ourselves. No, the Word of God comforts us in all our affliction so that we may likewise comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:4). In our striving for holiness, Satan would have us become absorbed in the selfish care of our own souls and prevent us from living by faith in God and love toward neighbor.

Jerome saw to it that the Gospel was available to the people of his day in language they could understand. In our day the task of translating the Gospel into plain language may not be as urgent as it was in the fourth century, but there nevertheless remains a vast multitude who are ignorant of the Gospel. How are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard (Romans 10:14)? God has given you lips that they might declare His praise (Psalm 51:15). You are his priest, called to declare His glory among the nations (1 Peter 2:9, Psalm 96:3).

But you must first glory in the Word before you can declare the Word’s glory. Listening is the first step in faithful proclamation. The one who teaches must first be taught (Isaiah 50:4). The treasure of the Gospel can only be shared by the one who has first treasured it up in his heart. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Read. Mark. Learn. Inwardly digest.

That God speaks to His fallen creation at all is more than we deserve, and He comes not with a message of wrathful fury, but of loving kindness. For the full measure of His wrath was poured out on the One whose Word we’ve failed to ponder. His righteous judgment fell to Him who spoke the Gospel faithfully until His dying breath. In Christ, you have a gracious God, One who invites you to let His life-giving Word dwell in you richly, who would use even you to bring this life-giving Word to others.

So we thank God this day for giving His Church the example of Jerome, who, by careful study let the Word of Christ dwell in him richly, and by his translation sought to aid others in doing likewise. But even more we give thanks to God for that Word which dwelt in Jerome, for that Word which testifies to the Word made flesh, for the wisdom, life, and salvation that His Word bestows. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, indeed.

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