Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist
For many in our world, Christmas has come and gone. But for those of us who are Catholic, the celebrating continues. And how appropriate that today we celebrate the feast of St. John, the Apostle and Evangelist. As both one of the Twelve and the author of the Gospel of John as well as 1 and 2 John and the book of Revelation, St. John is for us a model of the great and complete joy that we ought to have as Christmas continues.
While the season of Christmas celebrates Jesus’ coming to earth as a human being born in a humble stable, our gospel passage for today pertains to the resurrection. And hence we see on this feast of St. John that the miracle of Christmas only has meaning in reference to the miracle of the resurrection. God did not take on human flesh merely to have a good time with the people he’d created, but rather to live for us, to die for us, and to be risen from the dead as a sign of the defeat of death and the new life to which we who believe in him are called.
The joy of St. John upon his finding the tomb empty is expressed in the first reading from the 1 John. For Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John, the good news of the resurrection was something to share with others; it was a message they could not keep to themselves. It led John to write an entire account of Jesus’ ministry in his gospel. And it led John to live a life completely devoted to Christ.
St. John is perhaps the only male saint who is honored as a virgin (this designation is common for female saints). In this sex-crazed world, it is good for us to have St. John as a model for us. His commitment to being a disciple of Jesus transformed his life, making him eager to give up what the world values in order to follow Christ and to spread the gospel message after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We also see in St. John a dedication to Mary, the Mother of God, whom he took into his home after Jesus’ death and honored as his own mother. Like John, we are also called to accept Mary as our mother.
We have much to be grateful for as we think of our saint for today. He shared and spread the faith in his own time, and he continues to do so today through his writings. And while John no doubt endured many sufferings, including witnessing Jesus’ crucifixion, he ultimately inspires us as a model of Christian joy. Despite hardships and challenges, John knew the joy – of Jesus born in a stable in Bethlehem, Jesus ministering and performing signs, Jesus willingly suffering and dying out of love for us, and Jesus rising from the dead.
As this season of Christmas continues, we too share in the joy of St. John. Today, let us remember to smile as we encounter those around us. We cannot hide the complete joy that is ours!
- Maria Morrow