December 27 this year is the feast of St. John the Apostle.
St. John was one of the original followers Christ called as he was fishing with his Brother James.
They were the sons of Zebedee. After the first miracle of the catch of fish, "they left everything and followed him".
Jesus chose 12 Apostles, but Peter, James and John were the Lord's leaders.
They were present at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1) and in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37).
St. John was the youngest and probably the fastest among the Apostles (John 20:4).
It is interesting that he beat St. Peter to the tomb, yet he waited for St. Peter to inspect the tomb first. St. John was refereed to as the one "whom Jesus loved".
Of the Apostles, only St. John is mentioned to be present at the crucifixion scene.
The Lord from the cross gave his Mother to St. John to stay and care for her in his house.
Like St. John, we too have been given our Lady as a gift, as our Mother.
St. Peter asked our Lord about St. John, how he would die.
Jesus had told St. Peter how he would glorify God with his death, so Jesus responds to him saying, "What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me. So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die".
St. John witnessed all the miracles and teachings of Jesus personally.
He would be significant in spreading the gospel, ordaining men to the priesthood such as St. Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch.
He would take Mary with him to Ephesus where he cared for her and the Church.
St. John would write the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the book of Revelation (The Apocalypse).
He had been imprisoned on the Greek Island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.
Many Scholars place the writing of the book of Revelation near the end of the first century. Others think it could be somewhat earlier (A.D. 81-96).
The Gospel of John is filled with signs (seven), the wonders of Jesus: The changing of water into wine, the cure of the royal officials son, the cure of the paralytic at the pool, the woman at the well in Samaria, the multiplication of loaves, the walking on the water, the Eucharist.
All these signs signify the changing of life through water offering new life, Jesus life giving word.
Scholars believe St. John wrote this book while in Ephesus but that is not universally held.
What is important is that the Catholic Church at the Council of Hippo recognized the Gospel of John through Sacred Tradition was inspired of God. St.John's Gospel is different from the three "synoptic" gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Something very interesting to me about St.John is the fact that after witnessing the events of Jesus, his teaching, his death and resurrection.
After his own ministry of the Apostolic witness being the last of the Apostles who knew Jesus personally, he writes in Revelation 22:8: "It is I John, who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said to me, 'Don't! I am a fellow servant of yours and your brothers the prophets and of those who keep the message of this book, Worship God".
First, the angel said he was a servant of St. John and the brothers of St. John, the prophets, and the Church. The angel is recognizing the authority of the successors of the Apostles. By this time, St. John was the last of the Apostles. Who are the brothers, the prophets, and "those keeping the message of this book" that the angel was referring to?
The Pope at this time was probably St. Clement (A.D. 88-97), St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp most certainly.
I believe this is significant. The Catholic Church maintains the authority that the angel recognized way back then.
The other point I wanted to make about this passage is that St. John was about to worship this angel? With his scope, that is incredible.
That is a lesson that all of us are capable of sin and falling short. Like St. John, we too need to be reminded from time to time to "Worship God"!
By contrast, consider the Archangel Gabriel appearing to a lowly virgin. We are celebrating the events that the angel foretold to Mary because this affects all of mankind.
There is much that St. John presents in his witness that is important to the Church.
The Trinity, the Eucharist, Mary as Mother, the Sacraments and signs of Jesus, the unity of the Church, the Holy Spirit. Let us "Worship God" who is the "Narrow way to Heaven".
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