[Edit: I realized that there’s an error in this post. I said St. John’s Gospel when the Passion narrative this year was taken from St. Matthew’s. Oops. But this post is about St. John’s gospel, so I’m not changing it now!]
I recently attended an Introduction to the New Testament class at a local college, and while the instructor there had several valid points to make, I strongly disagree with something they said. They commented on the Gospel of St. John, saying that it was
heavy and rich in symbolism; jeweled and bright, you won’t see the blood, dirt and grime in this gospel.
I strongly disagree with this statement.
Today is Palm Sunday, and for today’s gospel was read the entire Passion narrative from the Gospel of St. John (though, if you go to the Novus Ordo, you’re more likely to have encountered a truncated version. It takes less time to say things in Latin than in English. Nyah! :-P) Re-reading St. John’s gospel, I find it jarringly different from what was described to me by my instructor.
Another of my teachers once said that St. John’s gospel is the crucial gospel. It shows us the greatness of the God-Man by its rich and varied symbolism, which, given enough background material, is no less rich than it was almost two thousand years ago, when it was first written. It is considered the most beautiful of the gospels, and there is the reason why, in my opinion.
In St. John’s Gospel, there is ugliness and dirt, but there is also beauty, which seems the more beautiful for the horror around it. St. John the Evangelist’s style is reminiscent of Tolkien, who drew us lovely pictures with his words: a stone statue of a king, broken, scarred, defaced, masked by an ugly, leering skull, its broken head lying on the ground, but with a crown of yellow stonecrop blossoming in the crevices of its stony hair–a broken sword, nonetheless cutting the Ring from Sauron’s hand. In the Gospel of St. John, too, there is beauty amid the blood and grime; the last words of Jesus, which are sweet and lovely enough to bring tears to the reader’s eyes, and Our Lord dying at the same time as the Paschal lambs were being slaughtered.
Perhaps the teacher of my class merely meant that the blood and grime wasn’t graphic, in an attempt to draw in those of my class who had seen The Passion?
The world may never know.
To do this instructor justice, however, I particularly liked one thing they said:
The Gospels are like separate facets of one gem, each revealing the same truth in a different way, giving us a more complete viewpoint on the life of Christ.
(Okay, they said “Jesus,” but I like saying “Christ,” so there! Hah!)
Check back in tomorrow and the rest of the week for a week of poetry! I may as well just write my disclaimer here:
The author of these posts and poems does not have a PhD in theology or Bible history, and she humbly begs the reader’s pardon for any inadvertent historical and doctrinal errors that may be contained herein. Thank you!
Anyway, thanks for reading, and God Bless!