Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, after yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, today we remember and honour one of the twelve principal and most important disciples of our Lord, and one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels, namely St. John the Apostle and the Evangelist. He was the disciple beloved by the Lord and the only one among the Twelve Apostles who did not suffer martyrdom.
He was also likely the writer of the Book of the Revelations or the Apocalypse, which contains the visions of what is to come for us in this world, as the Lord revealed His will to St. John, the warnings about the persecution that is to come for the faithful, and the challenges many of them will have to endure as those who believe in the Lord and as those who walk in His ways.
St. John has followed the Lord Jesus from the very beginning, as he was one of the four fishermen whom the Lord called at the beginning of His earthly ministry, together with his brother, St. James, with St. Peter and St. Andrew, the fellow Apostles of the Lord. He witnessed all that the Saviour had done, in all His teachings and works of mercy among the people, healing those who were sick and with afflictions.
And despite the doubts that he and his fellow Apostles had, and the amazement and wonders they always had at what Jesus did, St. John and his fellow disciples of the Lord believed in Him, and by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they became witnesses to the Lord’s actions among the people, spreading the Good News of God’s salvation to all of them.
And so that the people would be able to remember what they have testified and witnessed for the sake of the Lord, St. John together with some other Apostles and disciples wrote down what they have preached and said, in the many letters and Epistles that they wrote, and also the four holy Gospels, one of which was written by St. John, relating about the life of Jesus and the proof of His earthly ministry.
Through all of these we have received the same witness which the Apostles and the disciples had made before the world, just as many generations of the faithful throughout the ages had also received the same witnesses of faith through the Scriptures. Let us remember that saints and martyrs, our forefathers had to toil and suffer for the sake of their faith, risking their lives so that many more people could be saved through their efforts, including eventually all of us as well.
Now, the challenge is for us to continue their works, as the work of the Apostles is not yet complete. There are still many people who have not yet heard of the Lord and His salvation, and it is now up to us to do the work to spread the Good News of the Lord to our brethren who are in need and continue the good works the Apostles have started. And we do this, by applying what we believe into our own actions and deeds.
It is important that we should do as we preach and say, or else no one will believe in us. The Apostles including St. John demonstrated it to us well, as they were ready to live fully in their faith, including standing up for the Lord’s sake against those who would accuse them and cause harm against them. He did not fear the persecution of the world, but remaining true to the mission which had been entrusted to him and the other Apostles, that is to show the love of God to all the nations and call them into repentance and to turn themselves to God.
They showed love, care and concern for the poor and the less fortunate, caring for their flock as the Lord had instructed them. And they shared their joy and blessings among themselves, helping each other out of charity and love. They did what the Lord had asked them to do and taught them to do, and as a result, many people saw what they did and listened to their witnesses and believed. The same too should be done by each and every one of us.
Therefore, brethren, in the spirit of what St. John the Apostle and Evangelist had done for the good of the Church and of God’s people, let us all as Christians dedicate ourselves anew to God and to His ways. Let us commit ourselves wholeheartedly to His ways, and no longer believing Him just through words but also through actions. Let our Christmas season and celebration be filled with joy, as we share our joy with those who have little or none to celebrate with.
May the Lord bless us all and keep us in His grace. And may St. John the Apostle and Evangelist intercede for our sake before Him, that He may awaken in each and every one of us the strong desire to love Him and to obey His will as St. John himself had once done. May God be with us all and with our endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.