Whilst literary and historical issues and other aspects of the text are important, and can be interesting, fascinating and instructive, the main purpose of the evangelist is theological. As people of deep faith, the evangelists seek to share that faith vision with others. They are preachers and catechists. Their work has been described as sermons in story form. They set out to tell us about God, about Jesus, about life, about the world, about discipleship. They desire to elicit from the audience or reader a response of faith, ongoing conversion, love and commitment. The evangelists have their own individual theological emphases and perspectives. And so I believe that the key question I need to ask when confronted with a Gospel extract is: what is the theological message, the word from God, which this evangelist is seeking to communicate here? What aspect of the faith of the early Christian community is the author articulating and proclaiming? Later I endeavour to work backwards, and try to recover the historical basis or kernel, and explore the significance of the incident or saying in the life and ministry of Jesus. Finally, I seek to discern what the Gospel message is for me, for us today, in our very different world and evolving culture, with its new problems and challenges. It is my belief that the Holy Spirit continues to be present with us in this quest, for the word of God is always a source of enlightenment and fuller life.
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