E-Conference on St John’s Gospel


On Wednesday 16th October, in St Mary’s School Library, courtesy of St Mary’s School Principal and Staff, 15 members of St Mary’s parish enjoyed a new experience – an E-conference. [= a live video conference broadcast via the Internet].

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The topic was “ST JOHN – The Love of God made Visible.” Two presenters – Fr Frank Moloney SDB and Dr Dorothy Lee gave two lectures each on the Gospel of St John.

Between the lectures the participants were able to discuss the points raised in the talks and, by email, to submit questions to the lecturers in the Broken Bay Institute in Sydney.

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Lunch was a BYO-and-Share and was another chance to chat and discuss the content of the lectures.

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Because the lecturers are two world authorities on the Gospel of John, it was necessary for the participants to have recently read the whole Gospel through in order to benefit from the input.

In the first Lecture Fr Frank spoke about how John dealt with the story of Jesus in a new way. By the final years of the first century the world of the early Christians had changed dramatically.

His Gospel was not written in Jerusalem, but in Ephesus. There the context is not Jewish and, moreover, because by this time the Temple in Jerusalem is already destroyed by the Romans, Jerusalem is no longer the centre of the world for prayer – even for those who were Jewish and did not believe in Jesus. So John is addressing a new world situation for the young Christian community.

Secondly, because nearly eighty years have elapsed since the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the writer and his believing community have a richer and clearer perspective on Jesus’ Identity as the Word of God who is God in human flesh: “the Love of God made visible.”

The second and third lectures were delivered by Dr Lee. First, she highlighted the interesting ‘pairings’ in John’s Gospel – Life and Death, Light and Darkness, Blindness & Sight, Flesh and Glory, Father and Son, Believing and Unbelieving. She presented clear examples from the Gospel – bringing a new richness to our understanding of familiar texts.

Then Dr Lee gave a masterly Lecture on ‘the Raising of Lazarus’ which is ‘the centre-piece’ of the Gospel, the ‘final sign’ of Jesus and the ‘lead-in to Jesus’ own death’. She illustrated that John entwines Jesus’ Passion into the Lazarus story. “Jesus’ is the only voice that can speak to the dead and they obey!” In John, Jesus is the ‘Liberator’: “Unbind him and let him go.”

Fr Frank, in the final lecture, spoke of the ‘journeys of faith’ in John, especially for Mary Magdalene, Peter and the ‘beloved disciple’ who did not see Jesus, and for Thomas; they moved from unbelief to belief.

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The experience was challenging and a source of interesting discussion and provided a pair of ‘new eyes’ for every participant with which to read the Gospel of John.