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 or offer an encouragement each week to reflect upon, particularly in light of the rendering found here in The Message: How often have you lived out your role as a prophet in society? Has there been a time when you found yourself in a situation where you could have spoken for (or against) something, but instead you were afraid and remained silent?
The moment I heard the voice, the Spirit entered me and put me on my feet. As he spoke to me, I listened.
He said, “Son of man, I’m sending you to the family of Israel, a rebellious nation if there ever was one. They and their ancestors have fomented rebellion right up to the present. They’re a hard case, these people to whom I’m sending you—hardened in their sin. Tell them, ‘This is the Message of God, the Master.’ They are a defiant bunch. Whether or not they listen, at least they’ll know that a prophet’s been here. But don’t be afraid of them, son of man, and don’t be afraid of anything they say. Don’t be afraid when living among them is like stepping on thorns or finding scorpions in your bed. Don’t be afraid of their mean words or their hard looks. They’re a bunch of rebels. Your job is to speak to them."
I look to you, heaven-dwelling God,
look up to you for help.
Like servants, alert to their master’s commands,
like a maiden attending her lady,
We’re watching and waiting, holding our breath,
awaiting your word of mercy.
Mercy, God, mercy!
We’ve been kicked around long enough,
Kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men,
kicked when we’re down by arrogant brutes.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”
But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.
Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching.