In the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark, there are incidents which prompt the people to ask: “Is this not the son of the carpenter?” The Gospels then record that the people took offense at Jesus. While I am sure that it is totally incomprehensible for you to even think that anything about Jesus is offensive, we must try to understand that for these people it was just as incomprehensible to think that Jesus who he said he was.
The Gospel of St. John asks us to begin in a completely different frame of mind. Already we have heard the beginning verses of St. John’s Gospel on two different occasions. St. John asserts from the very beginning that Jesus is God in the flesh. This difference is explained by the fact that several decades have passed between the composition of the synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of St. John. The people of the early Christian community had gradually come to the realization that Jesus was who he said he was.
So in the very first chapter of St. John’s Gospel, he writes a different story about how Jesus came to have several disciples. Instead of choosing them, St. John writes that they chose Jesus. First Andrew, who had been following John the Baptist, joined Jesus. Then he went and told his brother Peter about Jesus.
Whenever we read from the Gospel of St. John, we must allow St. John to be St. John. What does that mean? Simply this. St. John wrote his Gospel with a different purpose in mind than the other three evangelists. St. John begins with the presupposition that Jesus is not the son of the carpenter. St. Joseph never appears in the Gospel of St. John. He presumes from the very first verses that Jesus was the Son of God, the Incarnate Word of God. Along with that supposition comes St. John’s belief that as his disciples, it is our job to point others in the direction of Jesus, just as John the Baptist and Andrew did. Whether we do this in words or through the example of our lives, this is the task of every disciple of Jesus. We cannot simple expect others to be responsible for this. It is our task, our vocation, and our path to holiness.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator