Dialogue with Father James Martin– Part Two

Dialogue with Father James Martin– Part Two September 18, 2023

Q. In the Catholic tradition, the Gospel of John often is given the most emphasis in sermons, tracts, devotional books, and other literature. What would you say is the reason for this?  To be even more general, in the Catholic tradition of worship, it’s mostly about the Gospels climaxing in the Mass, whereas in the Protestant tradition, the Letters of Paul tend to get the most airtime.  How do you think this affects the way worship and faith is viewed in these two Christian traditions?

A. Those are both great questions. To begin with, you may be correct, but my sense is that most Catholic priests and deacons preach on whatever the Gospel reading for the day is, and so if we’re in the John cycle, then it’s John; but if we’re in the Synoptics, the focus is on the Synoptics.  And in fact, in homiletics classes we’re reminded that we’re supposed to preach on the Readings of the Day.  


But I do think that many Catholics may be more drawn to a higher Christology, which John’s Gospel suggests in many places.  Certainly stories about the very human Jesus—losing his temper with the disciples; calling the Syrophoenician woman (or her daughter or her people) “dogs” (maybe “puppies,” but still harsh) or cursing a fig tree–don’t seem to sit as well with Catholics used to seeing him more as Lord and Savior.  At least that’s my sense. 


The larger question, however, is so much about John and Paul over and against the Synoptics, or even about the centrality of the Mass in Catholic worship.  The larger question is the lack of familiarity with the Bible among Catholics.  It’s not for lack of interest; rather, just lack of education.  Of course things have changed since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, but there is a still a nagging suspicion among some Catholics that they just don’t know the Bible as well as they should.  That’s one reason I enjoy writing books about the Gospels!  


"You are not a CHURCH authority. Cease and desist."

Is Genesis History?
"On the basis that I teach Biblical Hebrew, I am an authority and I can ..."

Is Genesis History?
"I took am a Berean. I searched Scriptures and there was no dogmatic statement about ..."

Is Genesis History?
"I have a suggestion - go re-read everything I wrote and do so carefully. I ..."

Is Genesis History?

Browse Our Archives