17 Jun 2017

My Favourite Gospel

Genealogy of Jesus, Gospel of Matthew
from the Lindisfarne Gospels
Folio 27r PublicDomain
     Long ago and far away, as I was discerning a call to ministry, one of my candidate's committee interviewers asked me to identify my favourite Gospel. Being articulate and confident as ever, I responded with something like: "My... um... wait... sorry... what?" (Clearly, not my finest moment!)
     It's a question that has stayed with me (obviously); it's a question I regularly return to in my own reflections.
     I've had many answers over the years: Matthew for the Old Testament fulfillment; Mark for its emphasis on service and justice, Luke for the attention to the humanity through suffering and healing, John for its mysticism and "I AM" statements. 
     It could be just part of my personality type, but I'm not sure I have any one 'favourite' - that seems to suggest that one is more important than others. It's not that I'm easily swayed, but at different times in my life and ministry, different aspects of the different Gospels have spoken to me.
     Something I read a few years back helped me to better appreciate this. There is only one Gospel: The Gospel of Jesus the Christ. We just happen to have 4 canonical "According To"s to choose from.[1]
     So how the stories are shared, the order, the length, the details, &c. all makes an impact, on the teller and on the reader. The emphasis differed based on the intended audience and the writer, to convey a certain aspect that would have the most significance.
     These are all the Good News of God in Christ, proclaimed by word and example for thousands of years (so far!), written and compiled in a way that will touch the hearts of God's people and invite them into God's mission for the world.
     So which author is my favourite? It depends on the day; but which Gospel is my favourite? The Gospel of Christ - may it continue to speak clearly to us all.

[1] see John Dominic Crossan's The Power of Parable.

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