December 27 is the Feast Day of St. John the Apostle. Also known as St. John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, John the Divine, John the Theologian, and, as the namesake of our parish, John the Revelator, to him is attributed a gospel, three epistles, and the Book of Revelation. As with so much from the days of antiquity, there is a great deal of scholarly debate as to the true existence and activities of St. John. But as one of the pillars of the early church and its modern day successors, his story and the works attributed to him remain a source of inspiration and guidance to us and others of faith.
St. John is believed to have been one of the original Twelve Apostles and quite possibly the last of them to rejoin his Teacher in the light. It is also generally accepted that he was the only one not to have been martyred. This is perhaps fitting for the Apostle often referred to as being "the Beloved" or the "Disciple whom Jesus loved". For he, we are told, was the only Apostle to loyally stand at the foot of the Cross as Christ suffered. It was then that Jesus entrusted John with care of his mother, Mary.
Though he was known to have a wild temper when it was aroused, St. John's life and writings seemed to be underscored by the theme of love. The one whom Jesus loved became a conduit for that love and the news of its redeeming power. The First Epistle of John in particular was very direct in this regard:
- "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him." (2:10)
- "He that loveth not abideth in death." (3:14)
- "Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (3:16)
- "And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he gave us commandment." (3:23)