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December 27, 2018: St. John, Apostle & Evangelist

Reading 1 John 1:1-4
Gospel John 20:1,2-8

...what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us....

“God is love.” There’s hardly a less controversial statement in modern Western culture than this one. But if you were to press people as to the implications of this simple statement, you’d quickly see a divergence from the scriptural witness to this belief that God is, in His very Three-Personed nature, self-sacrifical love.

It is St. John the Evangelist, whose feast the Church celebrates on this third day of the Octave of Christmas, who tells us that “God is love” [1 John 4:8]. But St. John—often called “the Beloved Disciple”—also unpacks that simple statement throughout his three epistles and his Gospel account. We might say that these four books of the New Testament are a primer in the nature of divine love.

My favorite single verse of Sacred Scripture is from St. John’s first letter: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us, and offered His Son as an expiation for our sins” [1 John 4:10]. The life of St. John the Evangelist bears witness to this truth.

The Beloved Disciple was, of course, the only one of the twelve Apostles to remain with Jesus during His Passion and death. Perhaps owing to this fidelity, he was the only one of the Apostles (excepting Judas Iscariot, of course) who was not martyred. Perhaps also owing to his fidelity to the Crucifixion of Love in the Flesh, it was to John that Jesus entrusted His Blessed Mother. All this illustrates why St. John the Evangelist is called “the Beloved Disciple”, and illustrates the model of discipleship he sets for us.