Sharing John's Gospel
by Craig Bogley

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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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, secular humanism:
      1. The identity of the Word with the Father;  the pre-existence of Jesus.
      2. The theological meaning of Baptism as the living water of rebirth.
      3. The theological meaning of Eucharist, Jesus as the living bread.
      4. The Pascal Mystery from a high christological perspective.
      5. Realized eschatology;  eternal life begins now with faith in Christ.
      6. 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 well).
      7. Emphasis on the living presence of Jesus in the Christian through the Paraclete.
    4. 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  The traditional teacher or lecturer has been replaced by a facilitator who encourages each member to participate in reading the Gospel and sharing personal thoughts about its meaning.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.

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