Helping and choosing translations

Do not hold back from those who ask your help,
when it is in your power to do it.
Proverbs 3: 27

 When I read this verse from today’s first reading in the Christian Community Bible translation, used in Bible Diary 2014, I was taken aback.

In the last few weeks I have been asked several times to help. There are two persons from the parish in hospitals; there’s a young girl who wants to study in Santa Rosa; there’s the young university graduate with a new child who is seeking work; there’s the woman I gave a ride to from a rural village who needed someone to listen to her marriage difficulties; and the list goes on to include the beggars in the street and more.

I don’t know how to respond. But I do try to listen and to treat them respectfully, often looking the street beggar directly in the face when responding.

This is a challenge I hope I never fail to take into account or solve by merely throwing money at someone or by failing to listen to their pleas.

But when I read the US lectionary’s translation (from The New American Bible) I was a little confused. It is not as challenging a translation. It reads:

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim
when it is in your power to do it for him.


I checked other translations and most lack the bite of the Christian Community Bible translation. Only the Jerusalem Bible comes close:


Do not refuse a kindness to anyone who begs it,
if it is in your power to perform it.


The Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh puts it this way:


Do not withhold good from one who deserves it
When you have the power to do it [for him].


It is so easy to pick and choose your translation, looking for a way to blunt the challenge of the scripture and its challenge to my comfortable life.


So today I will again pray to God for the wisdom and the generosity to know how to respond to everyone who asks my help.



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