December 27, 2011 - Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist

Today's Readings

Today we celebrate the feast of the Apostle John. He wrote the Gospel according to John, whether he wrote it down or his students put it together based on his words. He was the only apostle who was not martyred. Although the stories say that people tried to kill him many times, including boiling him in oil, it did not work. We also know that John was given the responsibility to care for Mary by Jesus. When Jesus was about to die, he said to John, “Behold your mother,” and from then on, John took her into his home.

In our first reading today, the beginning of John’s letter to the churches, we have the essence of John’s theology. That which was in the beginning is that which I touched. He who created the world is the one who ate dinner with me. The source of all life is the one who I saw die. John’s theology is simultaneously transcendent and corporeal. He cannot overemphasize that God is above and beyond all creation, but he never allows the least qualification when he says that God was a man who he lived with and ate with for a few years. The Word was God in the beginning, and the Word became flesh.

John does not sort through this paradox. He simply emphasizes the realities that he experienced. Jesus is not merely an impressive human being: he is God. God did not just appear among humans: he dwelt among humans. John’s writing is the writing of a man who has seen something and never at any point in his life did he ever really recover from the shock of it all, nor did he want to. What he saw made everything else seem silly and useless, but what he saw made him love everything else so much more.

It was John who tells us that Jesus came because God so loved the world. In his writing he constantly refers to the people as “Beloved”. He came to be described as the disciple whom Jesus loved, which is to say that his identity was no longer caught up in a name or occupation. The one meaningful fact was that Jesus loved him.

Beloved, Jesus loves you. The supreme God, life itself, he who is with the Father, was made visible to John, and he saw him with his own eyes, and touched him with his hands, and he wants us to know: God loves us.