(Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: 1 Samuel 3:3-19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-20; John 1:35-42)
Three times in today’s Gospel, John tells us what a Hebrew word means. We can conclude, therefore, that his audience was not familiar with them, and that he considered it important or, at least, useful to know and understand them. There are many similar cases in the New Testament, most notably the cry of Jesus on the Cross: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me).
Our Lady of La Salette, observing that at one point the children appeared confused, said, “Don't you understand, my children? Let me find another way to say it.” Then she translated the previous sentence or two into their dialect, and continued speaking that way almost to the very end of her message. She, too, knew the importance of understanding.
In the first reading, old Eli explained to young Samuel the nature of the voice he was hearing, and the importance of listening to it. After that, the boy went on to become one of the greatest of God’s spokespersons, discerning and interpreting God’s will for the people and their rulers.
St. Paul, without using the word, deals with a different kind of translation, not from one language to another, but from theory to practice or, better, from faith to life. He reminds the Corinthians that they have become temples of the Holy Spirit, and must act accordingly. Elsewhere he writes that because of that same Spirit we can call God Abba. Even in modern Hebrew, that is the name by which children call their father.
At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady laments that her people have failed to translate their Christian heritage into a Christian way of life, that life which is sometimes called simply ’the Way’ in the Acts of the Apostles.
This reflection gives me the opportunity to thank three men in a special way. Brother Moisés Rueda, M.S., and Mr. Paul Dion, have been faithfully translating these reflections every week, respectively into Spanish and French; and Fr. Henryk Przeździecki, M.S., publishes them on the Internet. Together they make these reflections accessible to so many whom I cannot reach.
But you don’t really need to be a linguist to translate the message of La Salette. Just live it!