web analytics
Gerasene Demoniac

no pigs for Catholics?

Gerasene DemoniacA good friend of mine pointed out this Sunday (23 June) Roman Catholics (RC) and the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) have a different Gospel Reading. Usually, the Gospel Reading is the same. Why not this Sunday?

There is no official explanation to go with either lectionary. So I am intuiting the reason for the change (RCL is a revision of RC) as much as you are.

In Ordinary Time we essentially work through a synoptic gospel semicontinuously. Generally, if a story is told in more than one gospel, that is an opportunity to tell that story in one year, but it is not normally in all three years*.

This Sunday RC read Luke 9:18-24 – Peter’s confession; Jesus foretells his passion; if any would come after me…
This Sunday RCL read Luke 8:26-39 – The Gerasene Demoniac.

Both stories occur in all three synoptic gospels.

The story of Peter’s confession occurs in each year in the RC Lectionary [Year A Ordinary 21; Year B Ordinary 24; and this Year C Ordinary 12]. No prizes for guessing why! The story of the Gerasene Demoniac never occurs in the RC Lectionary. I have no explanation of why it is omitted there.

RCL has replaced one of the three occurrences of the story of Peter’s confession with the Lukan version of the Gerasene Demoniac, whilst retaining the Matthew and Markan versions of Peter’s confession in the other two years. This appears, at least to me, to fit better with the principles that undergird the lectionary.


*I am well aware of the issues surrounding this practice of skipping a story, and of the understanding that the same story may function differently in different gospels, what I am describing is the RC and RCL actual practice.

image source

Similar Posts:

20 thoughts on “no pigs for Catholics?”

  1. Peter Carrell

    If your intuition is correct, Bosco, it is fascinating that the singular advantage of the RCL, that it provides “common” readings for Christians to read together in one global community, breaks down at this point in favour of one of the divisive points for the global Christian community, the significance of the Petrine confession.

    1. Good point, thanks, Peter, and one that might make an interesting point for a thoughtful congregation (like the one that gathers here!). To be fair to the RCL revisers, they chose to replace the version of the Petrine confession with the least Roman Catholic weight. I wonder if anyone has listed the gospel stories missing in each lectionary – a good exercise for a rainy winter day. Blessings.

  2. It’s the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul this coming Saturday; I’d assume that’s why the RC has the Peter story here every year.

    1. “bls”, thank you for your comment – please use your ordinary name here.

      No – this reading only occurs near the feast day once every three years, and then between 19 and 25 June.


      1. Phillip Hadley

        The feast of Ss Peter and paul use to be transferred to the Sunday with the Matthew text (and as such a 2nd century interpulation). No longer the case as this Sunday June 30 is in the RC Ordo the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C) in New Zealand.

  3. (Actually, that can’t be right; I forgot we were in “Season after Pentecost” and the readings are variable.

    Still, I wonder if the feast day has something to do with it; it’s very old and perhaps that’s why the story itself appears at this time of year….)

    1. The Lukan Confession of Peter was never read on Sunday in the pre-Vatican II lectionary. The Gerasene Demoniac story was never read on Sunday in the pre-Vatican II lectionary. Blessings.

  4. Phillip Hadley

    It surely to be lamented that a people of a common baptism, of one Lord, and one faith can not break open God’s word together. The ommission of the account of the Gerasene Demoniac is aan evidence of the the cut & paste approach of the 1969 Ordo Lectionum Missae. Interestingly the account of the Demoniac in Luke 8 is wonderfully and confrontingly reflected on by Catholic theologian James Alison. However at the moment I am working liturgical prayer for the Season of Creation in September through to October 4 being the memorial of Francis of Assisi. If I go the Lectionary texts for the Season of Creation they are again different from the RC Lectionary and the RCL. A website like textweek often highlights other variations across variants of the RCL. Revisions within varying traditions seem to continue, a revision is certainly needed still for the RC tradition, but revised maybe a good descriptive, common I longer think is in relation an variant of the Lectionary neither the 1969 RC commissioned Lectionary or the Common (1983) or the RCL (1994).

  5. Perhaps it is that the story of the Gerasene demoniac brings to light the massacre that the Tenth Roman Legion inflicted on that area during the 6 AD uprising of Judas the Galilean.

  6. Meg Underdown

    But it is only in the Matthean version that Peter is renamed and told that on this rock I will build my Church. Using all three versions points out that the foundation on Peter is a minority view!

    1. Thanks. An interesting point, Meg, one that I think is different to the way that many view texts. The interpretation of Matthew’s text is also (obviously) open to a wide variety of interpretations. Blessings.

  7. I find it interesting that we are discussing the RC and RCL lectionaries without discussing what both skip from the previous weeks reading.

    Now, I know that we cannot read every passage from a particular gospel in a given year, but what is left out is often significant. This year we leave out most of chapter 8, except for the beginning verses having to do with Jesus’ female supporters. So we hear the important word that not all Jesus’ followers were male, yet we miss the parable of the sower, Jesus’ purpose for parables, the lamb under a jar, who is Jesus’ family (those who hear the Word of God and do it), and the calming of the storm. All of these are important, yet not read.

    Again, I understand that lectionary editors have to make choices, but I am intrigued by the choices mad.

    Is it by coincidence that we have the Gerasene Demonic who is “bound” by demons, even if he cannot be bound by chains, alongside the reading from Galatians that is often translated that we were imprisoned under the law and that is served as a disciplinarian?

    Perhaps, the protestant dichotomy between Law and Gospel is at play in the choice? Is there a possibility that the “chains” in Luke are interpreted as the “chains” of the Law?

    1. Thanks, Dave.

      It would be possible to read every passage from a particular gospel in a given year – the RC & RCL just do not do that. Instead they read a story at least once in the three years. The Gerasene demoniac did not fit that principle in RC, and RCL has corrected that. The parable of the sower, for example, is read in Year A Ordinary Sunday 15.

      Hence my question – which stories are omitted in the three years?

      The RCL is the worst form of lectionary, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.


  8. Thanks for the explanation Bosco. I was having the conversation with the Principal of the school where I am Chaplain but only half-knew the answer. We are both grateful for you and the service you provide to the Church.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.