Sharing John's Gospel by Craig Bogley Introduction: Why Another Course Outline on the Gospel of John?
Those of us who have taken courses on John's Gospel and have had the
experience of catechizing others usually have learned from experience both,
the good and the not so good, the successful and the near disastrous modes
of such enterprises. Hence, comes the motivation to generate yet
another attempt to effectively present this challenging work with a view
to incorporating some of the new results of modern scholarship as well
as introducing improved teaching paradigms.
There are several important issues that highlight the importance of
John's Gospel today:
The three-year liturgical cycle features one Synoptic Gospel each year,
but only a few readings from John during the seasons of Lent and Easter.
The trend in recent years in many parish religious education programs has
been to emphasize Jesus' identity as a human being to the neglect of His
identification with God the Father.
There are unique thematic emphases in John's Gospel that reinforce the
dominant traditional theology of the church. These are essential concepts
that are needed for pastoral presentation to the laity, who are continually
being bombarded by the values of a culture imbued with a materialistic,
The identity of the Word with the Father; the pre-existence of Jesus.
The theological meaning of Baptism as the living water of rebirth.
The theological meaning of Eucharist, Jesus as the living bread.
The Pascal Mystery from a high christological perspective.
Realized eschatology; eternal life begins now with faith in Christ.
Conversion of individuals as a process of recognizing who Jesus is, evolving
into an evangelical urge (e.g., the story of the Samaritan woman at the
Emphasis on the living presence of Jesus in the Christian through the Paraclete.
The recognition of the RCIA as a shared process involving a spiritual journey
has introduced a new and vital paradigm beyond traditional catechesis.
The traditional teacher or lecturer has been replaced by a facilitator
who encourages each member to participate in reading the Gospel and sharing
personal thoughts about its meaning. The facilitator intersperses
his background which sets the stage for shared discussions of Gospel
meanings. Catechesis at its best is a holistic process for the individual
involving not only the intellect but also the heart. Care is given
to provide an environment conducive to the receptivity not only of ideas
but also of the presence of the Holy Spirit. The use of candles,
the presence of the Bible, quiet background music such as Gregorian chant,
and time for personal and shared prayer are helpful. Informality
and familiarity is stressed through opportunities for personal introductions
and stressing the importance and value of each person to the process in
a non-judgmental atmosphere.