Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the great Apostles of the Church, one of the most prominent among the Twelve Apostles as he was also a writer of the Holy Gospels, counted both among the Apostles and the Evangelists. St. John the Apostle and Evangelist was known to be the youngest among the Apostles and also as the one beloved by the Lord.
St. John was also the younger brother of St. James the Greater, another one of the Apostles, and was one of the fishermen called by the Lord at the Lake of Galilee, to be one of the earliest of His Apostles and followers. St. John was present through many of the Lord’s most important moments in His ministry, often together with St. Peter and St. James, his brother. He was present at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor as well as at the Agony of the Lord in the Gardens of Gethsemane.
It was also to St. John that the Lord entrusted Mary, His mother from the Cross as He was about to die for the salvation of all mankind. St. John took care of Mary from then on until the time when she was assumed into heavenly glory. And St. John, like the other Apostles, were also heavily involved in the formation of the Church, preaching the truth and salvation of God in many places, enduring challenges and trials in the process.
St. John eventually was arrested and exiled to the island of Patmos, where he received a series of heavenly visions of the world that is to come, as compiled in the Book of Apocalypse or the Book of Revelations of St. John, as the Apostle saw the vision of the future, of the time of the end, when the forces of the enemies of the Lord and the Antichrist persecuted the faithful people of God, and how God would then come again in glory to win the war and triumph over all evil once and forevermore.
St. John was the last of the Apostles to pass on from this world, and unique among all of them, he was the only one who did not die in martyrdom, but instead passing on from this earthly life in old age. Because of this, partly, the Gospel that was written by St. John was the latest of the four Holy Gospels and contained significantly different contents as compared to the Gospels according to St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke.
It was fitting that the feast of St. John the Apostle is celebrated every year within the Christmas Octave within just two days from Christmas day, as this Apostle as mentioned, was indeed very close to the Lord and had a lot of knowledge of the Lord and His many works, as he recorded in his Gospel and the short Epistles he wrote, and also the aforementioned Book of Revelations that detailed the outlook of the future of the Church and the faithful.
And just as yesterday we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, and now today we celebrate the feast of St. John the Apostle, the Church wants all of us to know that as Christians, our celebrations of Christmas cannot be separated from Christ, that is Our Lord and Saviour, the very One for Whom St. Stephen and St. John the Apostle had laboured in faith, which is the same for all the other saints and martyrs as well.
They are reminding all of us that our celebration of Christmas must be centred and focused on the Lord, our Saviour, the very One for Whom we ought to rejoice because without Him, and without the love which He has shown us, there would have been no hope for us, and absolutely no reason for us to rejoice at all. We rejoice because knowing the love of God through the very courageous and brave examples of His servants like St. John the Apostle, other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, we know that all He had done for us is truly worth celebrating.
St. John the Apostle lived a very long and fruitful life, filled with both happiness and sorrows, sufferings and pains, all the trials and challenges he had to endure as a faithful servant of God and more. And yet, surely, St. John was satisfied at the end of it all, having served the Lord to the best of his ability and did everything he could to fulfil the mission entrusted to him and the other Apostles and disciples.
How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we been celebrating in this Christmas season with the right reason and intention, knowing that in everything we say and do, in all of our celebrations, Christ is always at the most prominent place. Are we able to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and saints, especially that of St. John the Apostle who gave all of his life for the service and the greater glory of God?
Let all that we do from now on, particularly as we celebrate in this Christmas season, proclaim the Lord and His glorious wonders, His love for each and every one of us, as the reason for all of our joy and happiness. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen our faith and love for Him so that we may be inspired to live in the manner that St. John had lived his life. Amen.