Why does the Gospel of John not have its own liturgical year?

I asked by RCIA instructor who said it was because John’s gospel is “judgemental,” which sounds ridiculous to me. Ideas? Thank you!


I don’t know where they dredge some of these RCIA instructors up, but that is indeed ludicrous, especially since John’s Gospel is the gospel focusing on Christ’s love for us.

But anyway…the usual reason given for why John’s Gospel does not have its own liturgical year is that it is used during the Easter season for all three years.


I wonder that too. I’ve never thought of John’s gospel as ibeimg judgememtal, but have always loved his use of symbolism (time, light and dark, etc). I always remember that the evangelist John is represented by an eagle because his gospel “soars”.

The 3 year cycle basically splits across the 3 synoptic gospels and then intersperses John to help highlight specific spiritual aspect. While each of the synoptics have different focuses, they follow a similar path so it makes sense to have 1 year for each of them, John’s gospel is very different and being more theological it serves as a great bridge between each year especially with the themes around the passion and resurrection during Lent and Easter.


I do not know from where the RCIA instructor got that idea. I have just tried to do a search to check my facts, but I’m obviously not entering appropriate words because I’m getting not hits. I think it has to do with the fact that at certain times of the year parts of St John’s Gospel are read. So, we do get to hear his gospel every year.


I think it sounds ridiculous to everybody, with the single exception of that lone RCIA instructor. You asked a good question. The answer, of course, as @Tis_Bearself, @Usige, and others have already pointed out, is that John is read every year.


I haven’t checked, but if I had to make an hypothesis, I’d say it may have to do with the fact that the synoptic gospels narrate the public life of Jesus as covering one year, which is a good fit with the liturgical year, whereas John narrates it as covering three years (which the lectionary, at least where I am, does as well, as the John texts read during Eastertide follow a 3-year cycle).


The first three gospels have long been called synoptics because of their similarities. Each gives an account of the events in the last year of Jesus’ life. The accounts are somewhat synchronized, ie the Transfiguration is read in early August in all three years.

John’s gospel covers three years, and is read over three years. Lent of year A, Easter, John 6 in late summer of year B, etc.

“Judgmental” probably comes from John’s negative portrayal of “the Jews” which is not really as negative as people have treated it. Those comments should be read as coming from a Jewish, not from an outsider condemning all Jews.


I was always taught growing up that all of us sinners were “The Jews” ,who were responsible for crucifying Jesus. They weren’t some group separate from us Catholics, and certainly the Scripture did not refer to the religious group of today called “the Jews”. At the Good Friday service, the congregation, ourselves, would always read the parts of the “Jewish” mob and yell out “Crucify him” and that sort of thing.

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Unfortunately your teacher is mistaken.

The Synoptics alternate years A (Matthew), B (Mark), and C (Luke).

John is read from every year for part of the Christmas season, part of Lent, and a large part of the Easter season. John also supplements the latter parts of Ordinary Time in year B (Mark), who is shorter than Matthew and Luke.

What your teacher may be getting at is simply the fact that the Passion of John, which is proclaimed on Good Friday, assigns to the Jews several lines that can be misunderstood: “Crucify him, crucify him!” And “let his blood be upon us and on our children!”

There is typically a disclaimer in the missalette that says this reference does not mean the Jewish people today, nor the Jewish people as a whole, but rather was referring to the Jewish leaders who conspired with Judas, organized the kangaroo court, demanded Barabbas be released instead of Jesus, and that Pilate sentence him to death.

It is the sins of all of us, that put Jesus on the cross, not just those of the leaders who called for his crucifixion.

The central theme of John is this: That you would come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who came to save you from your sins.

In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God,
Deacon Christopher


Usige can probably add even more to this, but basically,

  • Mark was written in order to give courage to the faithful who were undergoing persecution and martyrdom.

  • Matthew was written for a Jewish audience, and focuses on showing how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah.

  • Luke was written for a Gentile audience, and therefore was not focused on the Jewish traditions but instead on showing how Christians could be good citizens of the Roman Empire, how they could be compassionate and loving towards others, and be ethical in their behavior.

  • John’s gospel is considered the gospel that is most theologically deep and focuses on the love of Christ and our relationship with Jesus.


That is indeed ridiculous. John is the most mystical of the gospel writers.

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Our pastor once summed it up in a few words: “Matthew was written for a Jewish readership, Mark is for Romans, Luke is for Greeks … and John is for advanced students.”


Other’s have given good historical context (i.e. what group each gospel was written too) and some of the themes, but you are also correct about one of the key themes of the gospel of Luke.

Here are some of the notes from classes on key themes of each:


  • The Gospel of the Kingdom - Christ as the fulfillment of the promise to David of an everlasting kingdom and the perfection of the kingdom of heaven
  • Focus on Christ as “the Son of Man” and his divine sonship
  • Only gospel to speak about the church or ecclesial community and links them to the kingdom of heaven (giving of Peter the keys to the kingdom)
  • Looks at the teachings of Christ


  • The Gospel of the Suffering Servant - turns on it’s ear the thought that the messiah would be a conquering king and instead that salvation comes from abasement as a servant upon the cross (common with many of the writings of Mark’s mentor, St Paul)
  • The Dragnet of the gospels - “just the facts, ma’am.” (reference to old TV show) Most focus on what Christ did and often mentions things being done “immediately”. Reads the most like a linear story


  • Gospel of Salvation to the Marginalized and Gentiles - Speak of the hope of salvation to the marginalized (especially the poor and women) and that the God of Israel offers salvation to all mankind
  • Closely aligns with the theology of the epistles of St Paul, his companion
  • Many scenes and parables around meals (e.g. the heavenly banquet) foreshadowing the Eucharist
  • Early hints of trinitarianism - closely links Christ to the Father by referring to Jesus as kyrios, The Lord, which is the same title used in the Greek old testament as well as the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit.

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