Octave of Christmas (27th December, 2018)
Feast of St. John the Apostle
First Reading: 1 Jn 1:1-4 (We bear witness)
Gospel: Jn 20: 1a, 2-8 (Disciple whom Jesus loved)
The celebration of the feast of St. Stephen inspired us to bear witness to Christ in any capacity of service to the Lord. He taught us how we too need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to carry out even the most ordinary works we may be entrusted with in His name. Today we have the feast of St. John, one of the disciples of Jesus himself. He is considered a person who experienced the love of Jesus and preached it so that we too may experience it.
The gospels depict John as a man who developed himself from a person of vigour and even aggressiveness to a person completely dedicated to the spread of Good news especially the Truth and Love. One can note three phases in his life each giving way to nobler way of life. The Gospel describes him as a person who was consumed with the spirit of aggressiveness expressed in the early stage of his association with Jesus. For example, when he sees someone else casting out demons in Jesus; name, he is one among those who tried to stop him because he was not following them” (Mk 9:38). Then again in another instance we see him along with his brother wanting to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans who refused to welcome Jesus (Lk 9:54) These two instances are examples of the zeal and undaunting spirit he had in following Jesus. Such zeal led him to be at the right hand of Jesus in His kingdom, as placed by his mother herself shows his interest to occupy the prominent place. This was the first phase of his life.
All his sportive zeal remains for some time. Then emerges another phase of his life, namely his intimacy with Christ. We see in the Gospels that he becomes one of the fortunate disciples to accompany Jesus on the Mount where he witnesses his transformation and see him talk with Prophet Elijah. Not only then later at the Lord ’s Supper too, he gets the opportunity to sit closer to Jesus keeping his head upon his breast.
Then the third phase of John’s life was the period of humility and deep love for the Lord. He alone describes Jesus washing the disciple’s feet (Jn 13:4-16). It was possible because he himself experienced it himself. After Jesus, John through the gospel he wrote emphasised on tasting the Love of God and walk in His Way, life and Truth. His passionate love for Jesus led him to be named as ‘apostle of love’. He was also a person who enjoyed the trust of Jesus in such a way as to be entrusted with Mary the Mother of Jesus.
Thus, we see that a disciple who had passion for self-glorification or aggressiveness gradually turn out to be a person who becomes ready to witness to love of Christ by all manner. His extensive discourse on love of God in his gospel and letters are witness to it. His willingness to serve others and suffer for the sake of Christ led him to live in a cave secluded from all those known to him or loved by him. It is there that he wrote the Book of Revelation that became the message of love and trust in God. St. John is an example for how we too should develop ourselves from being mere spectators or aggressive to the evils in the world but seriously take up the call to be close to God and dedicate ourselves to spreading His love and Truth. Amen.