Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday's Message: Corpus Christi

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message.  Here, I will reproduce the readings for Mass from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition.  (I want to thank Greg Pierce at ACTA for giving me permission to do this weekly post.)  While this is not an "official" Catholic edition, one of my hopes for doing this new series is to have a lively discussion on the renderings, compared to the more formal ones we are use to reading and hearing at Mass.  Is there a place for a translation like this?  Could this be a good Bible to give to a Catholic "seeker" or young adult? I have used it while teaching my high school theology classes, along with the NRSV and NABRE, and have had positive results.  

I would like to also propose a question each week to reflect upon, particularly in light of the rendering found here in The Message.  Pope Francis, back in February 2014 said that "
the Eucharist affects the way we see others. In his life, Christ manifested his love by being with people, and by sharing their desires and problems. So too the Eucharist brings us together with others – young and old, poor and affluent, neighbours and visitors. The Eucharist calls us to see all of them as our brothers and sisters, and to see in them the face of Christ."  So, how does the Eucharist help  you to see your neighbor as your brother?

Exodus 24:3-8:
So Moses went to the people and told them everything God had said—all the rules and regulations. They all answered in unison: “Everything God said, we’ll do.”
Then Moses wrote it all down, everything God had said. He got up early the next morning and built an Altar at the foot of the mountain using twelve pillar-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he directed young Israelite men to offer Whole-Burnt-Offerings and sacrifice Peace-Offerings of bulls. Moses took half the blood and put it in bowls; the other half he threw against the Altar.
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it as the people listened. They said, “Everything God said, we’ll do. Yes, we’ll obey.”
Moses took the rest of the blood and threw it out over the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has made with you out of all these words I have spoken.”

Psalm 116:
What can I give back to God
for the blessings he’s poured out on me?
I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!
I’ll pray in the name of God;
When his people arrive at the gates of death,
God welcomes those who love him.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice
and pray in the name of God.
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
and I’ll do it in company with his people,
In the place of worship, in God’s house,
in Jerusalem, God’s city.

Hebrews 9:11-14:
But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.

Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
On the first of the Days of Unleavened Bread, the day they prepare the Passover sacrifice, his disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations so you can eat the Passover meal?”
He directed two of his disciples, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him. Ask the owner of whichever house he enters, ‘The Teacher wants to know, Where is my guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare for us there.”
The disciples left, came to the city, found everything just as he had told them, and prepared the Passover meal.
In the course of their meal, having taken and blessed the bread, he broke it and gave it to them. Then he said,
Take, this is my body.
Taking the chalice, he gave it to them, thanking God, and they all drank from it. He said,
This is my blood,
God’s new covenant,
Poured out for many people.
“I’ll not be drinking wine again until the new day when I drink it in the kingdom of God.”
They sang a hymn and then went directly to Mount Olives.


Anonymous said...

As a protestant I am not qualified to respond to your question Tim but nonetheless thanks for the time and trouble you take in posing these questions each week.

Unknown said...

Jesus, the Bread of Life, was broken so that I can be whole. He did that for each and every one of us. It's a powerful reminder, especially when that neighbor isn't the easiest to get a long with.

Anonymous said...

This is one of those occasions where The Message is very helpful. The NAB translation used in the lectionary today for the Hebrews reading is just, well, awful. It is so poorly translated and its almost impossible to understand with all the nested parenthetical phrases. As I read this out loud this morning during Mass I just knew that no matter how I read this, it was never going to get through to people. The Message really states this much more clearly and for this reason, I really like what it has to offer in helping people understand "the story" better.

Timothy said...


I felt the same as you did today. Hebrews is such an important work and just taking a small portion like this out of context may demand a more dynamic rendering to be understandable.

Biblical Catholic said...

Hebrews is an extremely difficult book to translate coherently. Whenever I am looking at a new translation and trying to judge its quality, Hebrews 1.1 and 11.1 are some of the verses I check. These are notoriously difficult verses to render coherently.

Nevertheless, I cannot endorse The Message because it takes far too many liberties with the text.

rolf said...

I think the 1970 NAB translation (a little more dynamic) smoothed out this verse a little better than the 1986 NAB which used here:

'But when Christ came as high priest of the good things which have come to be, he entered once and for all into the sanctuary, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation. He entered, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, and achieved eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself up unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.'

Anonymous said...

Hebrews is indeed a difficult text to deal with, that's why scholars are convinced that Hebrews was not written by Paul due to higher register of Greek language.

Unknown said...

I've been on both sides of the fence when it comes to the letters of St. Paul. The more dynamic, like The Message, can be helpful, but lately I've been wondering...

Is the reader missing out on something for the sake of smoothing out the rough spots?
I mean, the Bible comes to us through living breathing human beings who had different ways of expressing themselves. Some a little easier than others. Is there a price to be paid for making it easier for the individual to understand?

It's also through the community of believers that we have God's Word passed on and written down, so shouldn't we also read it with the help of the community when needed? This blog, for one, has been very helpful in doing that when getting together with a group isn't an option.

As an aside:
Here's the reading from Morning Prayer. It just had to be shared with the fine folks who contribute to this blog.

Jeremiah 15:16
When I found your words, I devoured them;
they became my joy and the happiness of my heart,
Because I bore your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.

Biblical Catholic said...

"Hebrews is indeed a difficult text to deal with, that's why scholars are convinced that Hebrews was not written by Paul due to the higher register of the Greek language."

I don't find those kinds of arguments convincing because Paul is known to have employed scribes, and some of them are even named within his letters.

The fact that the 'letter' isn't signed by Paul, and in fact, appears to be more of a homily than a letter, strongly indicate that it wasn't written by Paul. But it was almost certainly written by someone close to Paul, because the kind of reasoning employed is very similar to what is contained in Paul's epistles.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ed Rio for the aside.
What a great verse- what an encouragement to take God's Word on board and into our hearts.
Thanks again.

Michelle said...

Hello. I'm considering The Message Catholic edition for a reading bible, I'm a RSV-2CE normally. I've been reading through romans, and so far it has been delightful, except I came across ROM 8:35. I don't know. What are your thoughts please? I think it is a little unclear. I mean taken in the context of the first sentence its ok, no victimization separate us from God. But if I were to only quote that last bit.. Hmmm... And I already know it has no imprimatur etc etc.

Carl Hernz said...

"The Message" is a fresh and dynamic work of love by its author showcasing a great talent. But it is not a traditional paraphrase. As you've noticed the text tends to offer more than the original text expressed in different words. Peterson often adds material into verses that does not appear in the original texts.

"Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture." This is how Romans 8:35 reads in "The Message."

That last section, "not even the worst sins listed in Scripture" does not appear in the original Greek text. It even runs contrary to the words of Jesus Christ who teaches that sins against the Holy Spirit definitely will drive a wedge between us and God.--Matthew 12:31-32.

Peterson recommends that his work be read alongside a non-paraphrased translation of the Bible, so even the author does not recommend this as a read-alone text. Again this verse in Romans is not the only time "The Message" does this. Some of the texts read to imply that Scripture teaches against the Sacrament of Reconciliation and leans toward Supersessionism. These interpretations and additions to the text would be problematic for a Catholic and would likely leave a first-time reader of the Bible who relies on this version alone with the impression that the inspired text includes these interpolations.

The lack of Church approval does not forbid the use of this text but it does leave Catholics without a guarantee that what they are reading truly reflects Scripture.