27th December – St John the Evangelist

This third day of the Christmas octave, we celebrate the feast of St John the Apostle andEl_Greco_-_St_John_the_Evangelist Evangelist. He was a native of Bethsaida, a Galilean town on the northern shore of the Sea of Tiberias. His parents were Zebedee and Salome and his brother was St James the Greater. They were a well-to-do family of fisherfolk who, when they met Our Lord, put themselves completely and unhesitatingly at his disposal. John and James, in reply to Jesus’ call, left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. Salome, their mother, also followed Jesus, helping him with her possessions in Galilee and Jerusalem, and accompanying him even to Calvary (cf Mark 15:40-41).

Borrowing from the Evangelist’s account of the Last Supper, the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass states: ‘St John, the beloved disciple, reclined close to the Lord at the Last Supper: secrets of heaven were revealed to him and he proclaimed the message of eternal life throughout the world.’

Our Lord showed St John, together with Peter, special marks of friendship and confidence. The Evangelist refers to himself discreetly as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He lets us know that Jesus had a special affection for him. Thus, he has recorded that at the solemn moment during the Last Supper when Jesus announced that one of the Twelve was going to betray him, he didn’t hesitate to ask the Lord, leaning against his breast, who it was who would be the traitor. Our Lord’s supreme expression of confidence in the beloved disciple took place when, from the Cross, he entrusted to him the greatest love that he had on earth: his most holy Mother. If the most outstanding moment in John’s life was when Jesus called him to leave all things and follow him, there on Calvary he received a more refined and intimate charge: that of caring for the Mother of God.

When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved, standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (Jn 19:26-27)To John, as to no one else, Our Lady could talk about all those things which she kept in her heart.

Today, on his feast, let us look at the disciple whom Jesus loved with a holy envy for the immense gift which the Lord bestowed on him; and, at the same time, we have to thank him for the care which he took of her until the end of her days here on earth.

All Christians, represented by John, have become Mary’s children. We have to learn from St John to treat her with trustful confidence. He, the disciple whom Jesus loved, brought Mary into his home, into his life. Spiritual writers have seen these words of the Gospel as an invitation to all Christians to bring Mary into their lives. Mary certainly wants us to invoke her, to approach her confidently, to appeal to her as our mother.

We can also imagine the enormous influence which Our Lady must have had on the soul of the young Apostle. [Something of this is well depicted in Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, like the respectful way in which John addresses her as ‘Mother’.] We can get a more adequate idea of it by remembering those periods in our life — perhaps the present is one of them — when we ourselves have turned to the Mother of God and had a specially close relationship with her.

[At the risk of repeating myself too many times, the most important way in which we invite Mary into our lives is by praying the Rosary daily. To maximise the benefit of saying the Rosary, we should meditate on the mysteries of Jesus’ life as we say the individual Our Fathers, Hail Marys, etc. Appropriate meditations can be found in many prayer books or by doing a google search for ‘Rosary meditations’.]

(From In Conversation with God.)