Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 2-8

At that time, Mary of Magdala ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go out to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat.

The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 11-12

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are blameless, and give praise to His holy Name.

Friday, 27 December 2019 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 1 : 1-4

This is what has been from the beginning, and what we have heard and have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, I mean the Word Who is Life…

The Life made Itself known, we have seen Eternal Life and we bear witness, and we are telling you of it. It was with the Father and made Himself known to us. So we tell you what we have seen and heard, that you may be in fellowship with us, and us, with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

And we write this that our joy may be complete.

Thursday, 27 December 2018 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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.

Thursday, 27 December 2018 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 2-8

At that time, Mary of Magdala ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go out to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat.

The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.

Thursday, 27 December 2018 : Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 11-12

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

He sheds light upon the upright, and gladness upon the just. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are blameless, and give praise to His holy Name.