Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if yesterday we celebrated the feast of the first martyr or protomartyr of the Church, St. Stephen, then today, the second day after Christmas we celebrate the feast of another great disciple of Christ, namely St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. St. John was one of the Twelve Apostles together with his brother St. James the Greater and also one of the four Evangelists who wrote the Holy Gospels.
St. John was one of the closest disciples of the Lord, who was often present at the many important events in the life and ministry of Our Lord, such as the Transfiguration, the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the resurrection of the daughter of the synagogue official Jairus, and many others. He was also one of the two Apostles, together with St. Peter, as mentioned in the Gospel passage today, who went immediately to the tomb where the Body of the Lord had been buried after His crucifixion, when they heard of the Lord’s resurrection.
St. John was also the author of the Epistle from which we heard our first reading passage today about God’s love being present in our midst, and He also wrote the Book of the Revelations, in which he wrote all that he had seen in the heavenly visions of what was to come, about the end of time, when Christ is to come again in glory to judge all the living and the dead. St. John received these visions towards the end of his life, when he was exiled in the island of Patmos in what is today Greece.
St. John was the only one among the Twelve Apostles who did not suffer death in martyrdom for his faith, but instead, died in a very old age many decades after the resurrection of the Lord, likely the last of the Apostles to depart from this world. His works through the Gospel and the Epistles he wrote, his life and ministry among the people of God were essential in the early years of the Church, in strengthening the faith of those who lived in persecution. St. John himself endured many persecutions and exiles, and was likely imprisoned many times for his dedication to God.
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, because we are all called through God’s Church, to imitate the examples, the faith and the dedication which St. John had in the Lord. St. John stayed by the Lord even when all the other disciples fled at the moment when Jesus was betrayed by Judas and handed over to the Sanhedrin. He followed Him with Mary, the mother of God, all the way through to Calvary and was at the foot of the cross with her.
And St. John was the one to whom the Lord Jesus entrusted His mother Mary, at the moment just before He was about to give up His Spirit and die, and at the same time, He also entrusted St. John to the care of Mary, to be her own son. In this case, St. John represents all of us humanity, which God has entrusted to be under the care of His mother, Mary; to be our mother as well, and Mary has been entrusted to us, as our beloved mother.
Today, this mission which the Lord Jesus entrusted to His disciples, and especially to St. John the Apostle, remain in us, that each and every one of us, first and foremost must love God, and must have that living and true faith in us, as St. John himself had throughout his life. And we are also called to love His mother, Mary, who is also our mother, for if we love the Son, we must definitely also love the Mother, and vice versa.
Have we, in our respective lives, showed this faith and love that we ought to have for God? If we have not done so, then during this time and season of Christmas, it is imperative that we rediscover this love and devotion which we must have for God. Otherwise, I am afraid that we still have not yet understood the true meaning of Christmas. For Christmas is the embodiment of God’s infinite and boundless love for us, that He chose to come into this world as one of our own, and to suffer and die for the sake of our salvation.
Let us all seek to grow deeper in our love for God and in our faith and devotion in Him. After all, He has loved us first, so much, despite of our constant disobedience and refusal to love Him. He is always ever patient, wanting us to return to Him and to be reconciled with Him. Let us also ask for the intercession of St. John, His beloved Apostle and also His mother Mary, that we mankind, all of us who are sinners, may come to find peace in God, and grow to love Him more and more with each and every passing day. May God bless us and our Christmas joy. Amen.