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How to read the Gospels

How to read the Gospels

Jesus Christ
Oral and written tradition
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The meaning for today

“The gospels have a special pre-eminence among all the books of Scripture. And this is rightly so. For the gospels are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our Saviour.”

(Vatican II, Decree on Revelation No 18).

The gospels tell us of Jesus Christ. They describe his character. They narrate his life and his miracles. They have preserved for us his beautiful sayings and parables. The gospels present the most important part of human history: how God became human and redeemed humankind. If we want to be mature Christians, if we want to love Jesus Christ more and serve him better, if we want to bring him to others through our teaching of the catechism or through the apostolate?we will have to make a thorough study of the gospels.

To get to know the gospels well, we should acquaint ourselves thoroughly of the gospel text itself. We should often read the gospels and read them again. There is no substitute for this. However profound books may be and however learned the commentators, they may never take the place of the gospels themselves. Make a habit of reading the gospels frequently, and when reading about the gospels, do not forget to turn to God’s Word itself at every good opportunity.

A superficial reading of the gospels will, of course, be quite insufficient. We may not read the gospels as we read other books. For here it is God himself who speaks to us. Prayerful reading alone will open our ears to what Jesus Christ wants to tell us. It is, therefore, not good to read too much at a stretch, or to read the gospels ‘in a hurry’. Before we open the book, we should put ourselves in God’s presence. While we read, we should remain aware of the sacredness of the text. And when a good thought strikes us, we could reflect on it and pray over it. Five minutes, gospel reading of this kind is no luxury, but a necessity for the daily life of any Christian.

But even if we have the best of intentions and if we approach the gospels frequently and prayerfully, we need to have some background knowledge to understand them fully. This book will try to help you by providing as much information as possible. Having read this book you will find it much easier to find the meaning of the gospel passages. The book will tell you much about the gospels, but with the aim of making you read the gospels with more insight. The gospels themselves are really the thing that matters. For they bring us in contact with Jesus Christ, who is our life, our truth, and our happiness.

Prayer: “Almighty Father, I am thirsting for the truth and the life which you gave us in Jesus. Grant that through my study of his Gospel I may be nearer to him who can make my heart a spring of living water. This I ask you through Christ Our Lord. Amen”.

John Wijngaards

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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