Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist – December 27th – Jn 20:1A and 2-8
As we continue to make our way through the Christmas octave, our festivities continue as today we celebrate the feast of Saint John, the apostle and evangelist. Along with his brother, James the Greater, John was known as a “son of thunder,” presumably because of his harsh words and impetuous nature. We see this, for instance, in Luke’s Gospel, when the Samaritans refuse to receive Jesus, and the brothers ask Him if they should call down fire from heaven; likewise, Matthew recounts for us how the brothers and their mother asked for places of honor in Christ’s kingdom, fully unaware of what that entailed.
Yet, this same John became known as the “Beloved Disciple,” and was even entrusted with looking after Christ’s mother. We might be surprised that a disciple with such obvious defects and failings could warrant the title “beloved” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” but if we are surprised, then we need to re-consider the way we look at God’s love. In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis says it well, when he writes: “[The Christian] does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.” “[The Christian] does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.”
This is the way God’s love is: John is the Beloved disciple, not because he was good, but rather he is good because he is beloved by God. In this way, all of us, too, are beloved disciples: “God has loved us and He loves us now with a personal love: He loves us, knowing who we are, how we are, where we’re coming from, what we can do and what limitations we have. He knows us by name.
“He [also] loved us [first]” (1 Jn 4:10). We weren’t anything but rather nothing, and God loved us before we existed. He gave His Son to save us, even before we were called into existence. He gave us His life in baptism, before our minds had been opened to knowledge. God has always taken the initiative in our lives. That love is also eternal love: “With age-old love I have loved you,” He says through Jeremiah (31:3). We can ask ourselves: how aware are we that we are beloved sons and daughters of God, on whom God desires to pour out His graces and blessings?
Through the intercession of Saint John and Mary, Mother of all believers, let us ask for the grace to trust in God’s love for us, a love revealed particularly at Christmas.