Jesus stared hard at Simon


Hi all

Today at Mass i noticed the missal translation said John “stared hard” at Jesus and later in the same passage Jesus “stared hard” at Simon. I found this very striking. I thought i would look into it when i got home but I find the phrase translated as “looked at” and in one case John “watched” Jesus. (John 1 35 _ 42)

Big difference to me.

Are we losing something important or at least significant or is the missal over cooking it?

Thanks for your thoughts.


“Stared hard” sounds like a case of interpretive translation, of which we see a lot in the translation used in the Mass readings. The original Greek word (emblepo) does refer to “looking at” in a way that is more than just glancing at, but “staring” sounds to me like a bit of a reach.


I checked eight Catholic translations of that verse and seven of them had ‘looked at’ or something similar. The Jerusalem Bible has 'looked hard at him…'


Thank you both. Talk about having a different sense. I’m actually dissapointed as i found the Missal’s version very striking and worth chewing on.

Best regards


Don’t be disappointed. If the wording of the reading at mass caught your attention, meditate on it. Consider the meaning of the words you heard, rather than all the research you and others have done of different translations.

God uses the actual moments of our lives to speak to our hearts. Sounds like he used the actual words read at mass to do that. Don’t turn away from his leading! Pray about it, meditate on it…

What am I staring it? Where does my attention linger? Can it be said of me that I stare at our Lord, or only that I occasionally look his way, or maybe sometimes just notice he might be somewhere in the crowd?

This is an excellent source of reflection!

God bless you!



Thank you Gertie excellent advise.
God bless you too!



Well some of us enjoy looking up the words and comparing. :slight_smile: So here is another comparison using the Knox translation:

‘The next day after this, John was standing there again, with two of his disciples; and, **watching **Jesus as he walked by…’

‘Jesus looked at him closely, and said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona…’


It (εμβλεπω) is an intensive version of a verb (βλεπω), and does show up in other places where some serious eyeballing is going on (Mt 6:26, Mk 14:67, Lk 22:61). It is also contrasted with the simpler version in Mk 8:24 (βλεπω) and 8:25 (εμβλεπω). If I had to render those passages in John 1, I might go with “gazed upon”.

Your missal is just trying to render a rather fine difference, and not doing a bad job of that.


I absolutely adore words, so keep looking up and sharing with the rest of us!

OTOH, when it comes time to pray, for me at least, it’s time to put aside the research mode and just be with Him, ya know? That’s all I was suggesting to the OP :blush:

Carry on, ya’ll!





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