10 April 2011

Is the short form helpful?

From time to time the Lectionary for Mass (the book containing the readings from the Scriptures) provides what is known as a "short form" of the Gospel.  This weekend is one such time.

Personally, I never use the short form (I even use every reading at the Easter Vigil).

Sometimes the short form will be used for the sake of time - or, as in the case last night, lack thereof (we had two Confirmations back to back scheduled close together) - but the short form really does not take much less time than the long form.  And they often exclude impressionable passages.

And sometimes - like today - the short form simply makes the Gospel passage incomprehensible.

Today we hear of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, taken from Saint John's Gospel.  The short form - in part - reads thus:
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord.  I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” (John 11:25, 33b-34).
I do not think that I had head the short form of this passage before last evening and when I heard it, it was jarring. I must have made - in my great bewilderment - quite a contortion of my face because several people looked at me with questioning looks.

Look again at how the short form reads: Jesus apparently becomes "perturbed and deeply troubled" at Martha's statement of faith.  Clearly, this is not the case!  Whoever "edited" this short form did a lousy job at it.

Looking at the full passage from Saint John, we see that Jesus became perturbed not at Martha's statement of faith, but rather at Mary's seeming lack of faith, at her tears and the tears of those with her, not so much because of their tears, but of the terrible grip death had on his beloved people.

Literally, the Greek says that he "snorted in spirit;" he became angry because of death, so much does he love his people and desire that they live.

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