The Feast of St.John the Apostle (December 27) follows the birth of Jesus because John in his writings– the 4th gospel and letters– answers the great question: Who is Jesus? Who is the child born of Mary in Bethlehem, who lived in Nazareth, preached in Galilee and Judea, died and rose again in Jerusalem?
John is uniquely able to answer that question, and for this reason his feast is placed where it is, two days after we celebrate Jesus’ birth. John was one of his first disciples whom he called at the Sea of Galilee to follow him. He knew where Jesus came from, Nazareth, and he knew his family. John was with Jesus in his ministry in Galilee and went with him on his journey to Jerusalem. John sat beside him at the Last Supper; he went into the Garden of Gethsemane with him, then stood beside his cross with Mary, his mother. John witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Gospel of John and later traditions say John was close to Jesus’ mother, Mary.
The gospel reading for his feast reminds us that John saw the empty tomb and recognized Jesus risen from the dead. “‘It is the Lord,’ he said to Peter” on the Lake of Galilee as the Risen Christ appears. (John 21, 7) John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” had a special relationship with Jesus, human and divine.
The 1st Letter of John, which we read in the liturgy after Christmas, tells us to know know Jesus Christ through his humanity, just as the apostles did. Like them, we will also know that the One we know through his humanity is also the Word of God who is God.
“What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you.” 1 John 1-4
It’s so easy to get trapped into politics today, world politics and church politics. We need to keep our eyes on the mysteries that are above politics. The Word has become visible and lived among us.
God, our Father, you have revealed the mysteries of your Word through John the apostle. By prayer and reflection may we come to understand the wisdom he taught. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.