Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday's Message: 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

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: Can you think of a time in your life when Jesus helped to open your eyes to any injustice or suffering around you?

Isaiah 35:4-7
Energize the limp hands,
strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls,
“Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here,
on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.
He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”
Blind eyes will be opened,
deaf ears unstopped,
Lame men and women will leap like deer,
the voiceless break into song.
Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness,
streams flow in the desert.
Hot sands will become a cool oasis,
thirsty ground a splashing fountain.

Psalm 146
God always does what he says—
he defends the wronged,
he feeds the hungry.
God frees prisoners—
he gives sight to the blind,
he lifts up the fallen.
God loves good people, protects strangers,
takes the side of orphans and widows,
but makes short work of the wicked.
God’s in charge—always.
Zion’s God is God for good!

James 2:1-5
My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?
Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.

Mark 7:31-37
Then he left the region of Tyre, went through Sidon back to Galilee Lake and over to the district of the Ten Towns. Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, “Ephphatha!—Open up!” And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that.
Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. “He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.”


CWBuckley said...

See, I still say we have an official translation that fills this role nicely: The Catholic Living Bible from Tyndale. It's no more a Paraphrase than the Message and, in places, is far more natural in its renderings:

Isaiah 35:4
Encourage those who are afraid. Tell them, "Be strong, fear not, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you."

Psalm 146:8b-9
For the Lord loves good men. He protects the immigrants, and cares for the orphans and widows. But he turns topsy-turvy the plans of the wicked.

In fact, compared to this rendering, even The Message makes James sounds forced and stilted by comparison:

James 2:1-4
Dear brothers, how can you claim that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, if you show favoritism to rich people and look down on poor people?
If a man comes into your church dressed in expensive clothes and with valuable gold rings on his fingers, and at the same moment another man comes in who is poor and dressed in threadbare clothes, and you make a lot of fuss over the rich man and give him the best seat in the house and say to the poor man, "You can stand over there if you like, or else sit on the floor" - well, judging a man by his wealth shows you are guided by wrong motives.

Anonymous said...

As I very strongly dislike the message in general I can only wholeheartedly agree with Christopher.The rendering in the Living Bible is more natural and easier by far to the ear.
However I woould not wish in anyway to discourage Tim in his continuing efforts to encourage folk to read their bibles whatever translation is used.
Please keep up your great work Tim.

Timothy said...


No problem. Need not agree with me in all or any thing. One man's steak is another's burger.

rolf said...

Hmmmm... burgers!!!

CWBuckley said...

Timothy and EC-

Apologies. I'm certainly not complaining about anything Timothy is doing here or trying to discourage him.

If I'm critical of anything, it's simply some of the presumption behind the Message as a translation.

Anymore, I have a sort of "nothing new under the sun" response to it, in that it does nothing that other translations haven't done before. More importantly, as a Catholic I'm a bit put off by the translator/publisher branding it a "Catholic" Bible without first securing the Church's approval in the form of an imprimatur. Apostolic teaching matters to me, as a convert. Clarity matters to me, as a writer. We can get both in another translation pitched to the same audience as the Message.

Do I think the Message is by definition "not Catholic?" No. In fact, I hope some day it does secure an imprimatur to expand Scriptural options for Catholic readers. I'd like the same for the CEB. If the Church could bring the RSV and the GNT into the fold, it can certainly do so for these as well.

But until then, I wish the publisher would resist putting "Catholic" on the cover of its "ecumenical" edition, simply for the sake of proper branding.

That said, having just dug into the Catholic Living Bible this past week for the first time, I'm surprised how much I like it. I typically gravitate toward more formal renderings like the RSV or the NABRE (New Jerusalem Bible leaves me cold), and expected to loathe this "paraphrase" version.

But as I spend my professional days copy-editing jargon-heavy writing of technology consultants, I find myself admiring the editorial work here. It's nicely done, appropriate for the same reading level as the Message, yet in language that's arguably less dated than the Message already, and fully embraced by the Church with an imprimatur.

Message Catholics should spend some time with it and consider using it in any teaching or family context where the Message comes into play.

Peace and all good-

Biblical Catholic said...

The Living Translation Catholic Edition is not official as it does not have an imprimatur.

CWBuckley said...

Yes it is and yes it does. :-)

Nihil obstat: Rev. Lawrence A. Gollner, Censor Librorum

Imprimatur: Leo A. Pursley, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, January 9, 1976

Biblical Catholic said...

How could it have an imprimatur from 1976 when it wasn't published until 2004?

CWBuckley said...

Maybe we're talking about different translations?

I'm referring to the Catholic Edition of the Living Bible, abridged by Kenneth Taylor and published by Tynsdale in 1971 (Catholic edition in 1976).

You'll see a clear photo of the imprimatur in my posted link.

The publisher DID publish a "New Living Translation (NLT)" recently, which has not received an imprimatur.

Perhaps that is what you mean?
If so, then agreed. But the original Catholic Edition still does have a valid imprimatur, and is till available.