Today I’m thinking about St. John the Apostle/Evangelist, my personal patron saint. December 27 is traditionally the feast of St. John in the Catholic Church. This year this feast fell on a Sunday (the Sunday within the octave of Christmas) and it was overshadowed by the fact that it also was the Feast of the Holy Family.
St. John was one of the twelve apostles but he was one of just three apostles that was apparently in Jesus’ “inner circle.” He, along with St. Peter and St. James (St. John’s brother … sons of Zebedee), seemed to have special privileges from Jesus. Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the high mountain when he “was transfigured before them.” (Mat 17:1-8). These same three apostles were selected to accompany Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to witness the Agony in the Garden, though they fell asleep (because, though “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”). (Mat 26:1-46).
Later, John became Mary’s caretaker at Jesus’ request (when while hanging on the cross, Jesus “said to the disciple, ‘behold your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple to her into his home.” (John 19: 26-27)). In addition, John was the author of the fourth Gospel, three New Testament letters, and the Book of Revelation. I am especially struck by three accounts in John’s Gospel that are unique to him and by the general theme of his first letter.
These three accounts in his Gospel are 1) the Prologue (John 1: 1-18), 2) the Bread of Life Discourse (John 6: 22-71) , and 3) the Last Supper Discourses. (John, Chapters 14-17). In the Prologue, Jesus refers to Himself as both the Word and the Light. It is beautiful poetry that seems to refer back to the creation account in the Book of Genesis. The reader is left to contemplate. In the Bread of Life Discourse, the Holy Eucharist is prefigured and many, including myself, take the dialogue there as proof that the Eucharist really is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. In the Last Supper Discourses, Jesus goes on and on teaching his truth about, among many other things, unity, love, and His relationship to the Father.
But as good as all of that is, the best may perhaps be found in his first letter, 1 John, where the emphasis is on love. I especially would recommend 1 John 4: 7-21. You know, there isn’t enough space here to write out all the verses referenced in this post, so please pick up your Bible (or go purchase a Bible) and take a look. I think that you will agree that this St. John, my personal patron saint, was a great, great saint. Amen.
Saint John was, of course, present at the Last Supper. The photo here is of the last supper sculpture at the Trinity Heights Center in Sioux City, Iowa.