Context, of course, is everything, so here are the words over the chalice in full:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it,The words are addressed to "all of you." But that's not in the Latin. The Latin verb is addressed in the second person plural, but the word "you" is not there. I think that is already significant. Because the word that is there in the Latin is "all." The "you" addressed is an "all": omnes.
for this is the Chalice of my Blood,
the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant,
which will be poured out for you
and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in memory of Me.
The next subject is the Chalice with the "Blood of the new and eternal Covenant, which will be poured out." (Currently, we hear that this blood will be "shed.") It makes a difference which expression is used! That blood being "shed" refers to death; but covenant-blood being "poured out" from the Chalice takes us to the scenes in the Bible when the blood of a sacrificed animal (collected into a vessel) was poured out around the altar (God's stand-in) and sprinkled over the people, who in this very graphic way actually entered into the covenant. I think this covenant language does not receive enough attention when the whole "all/many" issue is engaged in the context of liturgy. "Christ died for all" (2 Cor 5), though clearly not everyone enters into the covenant by being "baptized into his death" (Rom. 6)--and the invitation still stands open to "all those still far off whom the Lord our God calls" (Acts. 2).
Then there's the famous "many." Many means many. It is the opposite of "few." It is not a restrictive term, though it sounds that way to us now, because we are so used to hearing "all."
Most discussions about this term (including my earlier post) note that at the Last Supper, Jesus himself most likely actually used the word "many," and did so knowing he was fulfilling the prophecy of the Servant of the Lord who would give his life as an offering "for many and win pardon for their offenses." But these are not the only places in the Gospel (or the New Testament) where that "many" shows up. When James and John wanted the best seats in the kingdom, Jesus told them that they would be following the Son of Man who "came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many."
And then there's Paul. Paul refers to Jesus and the "many," too: for Paul, Jesus is the new Adam who undoes what the first Adam did. In the Letter to the Romans, Paul practically plays a game with the words "one" and "many":
- Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin...
- But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
- For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Do you think that these reflections can help those who may be upset by the new translation? What other insights have you come across?