Gospel Readings This Week
Weekday Gospel Readings this week were all from John 6, The Bread of Life chapter.
- Monday – 22-29 (Day after the feeding of the 5000)
- Tuesday – 30-35 (Jesus connects what he offers to manna from Heaven)
- Wednesday – 35-40 (“Bread of Life” discourse)
- Thursday – 44-51 (“Living Bread” different from manna)
- Friday – 52-59 (Bottom line: “Unless you eat and drink…”)
- Saturday – 60-69 (Division and self-excommunication)
I’m always curious about the verses left out, e.g. 41-43, but I’m not going to try to follow that rabbit trail here. Tomorrow, Sunday, we move on to “The Good Shepherd” discourse in John 10.
The Gospel of John
The introduction to John’s Gospel in The New Testament: New Catholic Version makes these key points:
- John very different from the other three Gospels
- Author unidentified but traditionally attributed to John the apostle
- Written late, probably about sixty years after the resurrection
- Discourses replace parables (No parables in John)
- A few significant events, seven signs, replace multiple stories, miracles, sayings
- Not chronological, unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke
- Beautifully constructed theological drama
- Full revelation of the Glory of Christ
Not in the Gospel of John
We find no accounts of the birth, baptism (mentioned only), transfiguration,or temptation of Jesus or of his institution of The Lord’s Supper. There are no exorcisms. There is no call for repentance.
Why no institution of the Lord’s supper? Maybe because it was a practice thoroughly incorporated into the life of the community at the time of this writing and needed no explanation.
And, instead of the birth narrative which may also have been completely understood, the Gospel begins with “In the beginning…“, same as Genesis, to emphasize the eternality and divinity of Jesus which may not have been thoroughly understood. It was to be another 250 years before that issue was pinned down in the creeds.
Only in the Gospel of John
Only in John do we find:
- The Cana wedding miracle important to Catholic understanding of Mary,
- The encounter with Nicodemus and the “born again” discussion,
- The beautiful long story of the Samaritan woman at the well who went to her village and said, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done. Could this be the Christ?” (Early evangelist)
- The account of the healing of the man born blind, reactions to it.
- The raising of Lazarus who, unlike Jesus, would have to die again.
- The conversion and confession of Thomas.
- The washing of the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper.
- The woman caught in the act of adultery and response of Jesus to it.
- The miraculous catch of 153 large fish after Easter.
Some of these longer accounts, The Woman at the Well and The Man Born Blind in particular, are beautifully constructed dramas and could be the basis of novels, films, or plays.
Another interesting exception is that while the feeding of the 5000 is found in all four Gospels, only in John is there the small boy who had five barley loaves and two fish.
The Seven Signs in the Gospel of John
- Conversion of water to wine at Cana wedding – John 2
- Healing of son of an official – John 4
- Jesus heals a blind man on the sabbath – John 5
- Jesus feeds the 5000 – John 6
- Jesus walks on the water – John 6
- Jesus heals a man born blind – John 9
- Jesus raises Lazarus to life – John 11
One thing we know is the reason the Gospel of John was written and the reason for the choices about what to include: John 20:30-31 – Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Here is some final food for thought, frequency of the word “believe” in the Gospels.