Uncommon sense

Sunday, September 17

Mark 8:27-38

Often Jesus’s words seem perversely contrary to sense. Take, for example, his central bit of advice in our Gospel passage for today: “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him renounce himself and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will destroy it; but whoever will destroy his life for my sake and that of the good news will save it” (Mark 8:34-35, my translation). The New Revised Standard Version, out of a commendable desire to be gender-inclusive, transposes Jesus’s singular formulations into the plural (“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves,” etc.). But this paraphrase loses the original’s sense of immediacy, of personal address—the impression that each and every individual is confronted by Jesus’s call and must say either yea or nay to it.


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