The National Catholic Reporter appears to be claiming that Jesus makes them feel like losers. This bizarre claim comes from their editorial against the new translation of the Mass texts. Here’s what they said:
Because of our belief in one family in this big tent, we are loath to characterize disagreements as battles. Battles have winners and losers, and no one in the family should be known as a loser. (Historically, losers in church battles have been called schismatics and that is not a nice word to use among family.)Yet this Sunday, Nov. 27, the first Sunday in Advent, when we are gathered around the eucharistic table — what should be the greatest sign of our unity — many of us will feel depressed. We will feel like losers when we hear not the words that Jesus’ blood “will be shed for you and for all” but that Jesus’ blood “will be shed for you and for many.”
But this change in the English translation isn’t just more faithful to the Latin text. It’s what Jesus said, as reported in Scripture. Here’s how His words are reported in Mark 14:23-25,
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
And from Matthew 26:27-29,
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.”
Now those translations come from the NAB, the Bible translation generally used in Mass. But you can look at the relevant verses in whatever translation you’d like: He clearly said His Blood was to be shed for many. The Greek word in both passages is polys (πολύς), which means “many, much, large.”
See, the new translation (for which I thank God) wasn’t about hurting the feelings of anyone at the Reporter, but about greater faithfulness to the Latin Rite, and greater faithfulness to the words of Jesus Christ. As the Reporter admits in their editorial, “The English translation that we have used since 1973 was a rush job done in the first burst of enthusiasm after the Second Vatican Council.” It was sloppy in many places, and was never intended to last even as long as it did. Today marks the fulfillment of what was intended from the beginning: the implementation of a faithful translation of the Latin Mass, so that we can pray the same prayers of the universal Church, but each in our own tongue. It’s the spirit of Pentecost, not Babel.
Are their areas for improvement, even with the new translation? Probably. But those who are seeing this as some sort of partisan agenda reveal more about themselves than about the translation. I think that the Reporter’s editorial betrays this. They portray their kvetch as against some cabal of bishops seeking to impose their personal whims on the laity. But that’s just not the case. This isn’t about the bishops, or even about the Church, but about Christ Himself. And that’s not a battle the Reporter will win, or even a battle that they should be fighting.
Last but not least, happy Advent!
(h/t to Fr. Andrew for pointing out the editorial)