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St John the Evangelist and Apostle
(entered heaven around 100)
Having received no greeting from you in quite a while, I can’t help wondering if you may be slipping a bit. Especially during vacation and all – usually, we tend to revert to self-indulgence, laziness, and old patterns of interpersonal roughness, especially with family members. If on the off chance you may be experiencing something like that, then today is a very important feast day for you, so I hope you read this email.
St John, author of the fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and three canonical Letters, is one of the most endearing figures in the New Testament – at least, Christ thought so: he let the young Apostle lean right up against his chest when they were reclined for the Last Supper in the Upper Room; he also included John on the few special excursions when he went off only with three of his disciples. And then, when he was dying on the cross, he entrusted his mother to John’s care, and John to his mother’s care – something special going on there. Of course, John also refers to himself in his Gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Since he alone of the Twelve accompanied Christ on Calvary (the others were hiding in fear of the Jews), we could also refer to him as “the disciple who loved Jesus.” That mutual love of God in Christ and the individual Christian soul, and its overflow into the love of one’s neighbor, is the great motif of all his inspired writings. In fact, St Jerome tells us that when St John was advanced in years and so weak that he couldn’t even walk by himself, they used to carry him to the assembly of Christians in Ephesus (the community founded by Paul in modern-day Turkey, where St John lived and died after returning from an exile – under Emperor Domitian, who attempted to execute him for being a Christian by boiling him in oil, but John was miraculously saved; he hopped out of the cauldron and went on his way, the guards and magistrates so dumbfounded that no one dared obstruct him – on the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation), and whenever they gathered around him, all he would say was, “My little children, love one another.” After a while, the community got a bit perturbed by his repetition and asked him why he didn’t say anything else. He answered, “Because it is the word of the Lord, and if you keep it you do enough.”
And that also is my word to you. Return to the way of love, of serving those around you, of finding ingenious ways to bring everyone you know closer to Christ. Now’s the season to do it, and St John is the perfect patron to do it under. Count on my prayers.
Your loving uncle, Eddy