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The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. John [Catholic Caucus] ^ | not given |

Posted on 10/21/2010 6:49:19 PM PDT by Salvation

The Church honors the Apostles on the following feast days:
Sts Peter and Paul-June 29th
St John-December 27th
St James-July 25th
St Andrew-November 30th
St Thomas-July 3rd
St Matthew-September 21st
Sts Philip and James the Less-May 3rd
St Bartholomew-August 24th
Sts Simon and Jude-October 28th
St Matthias-May 14th (Judas' replacement and comments)

The Lord chose these holy men for their unfeigned love, and gave them eternal glory. Their message goes out through all the earth. Through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the end of the world, their message. We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as Lord; the glorious company of Apostles praise you. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer with God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Jesus Christ chose the twelve Apostles. He chooses us too to a sacred calling. His mystical body, His Church, which consists of all members of the human race, albeit, two-thirds of the population of the world are not officially Catholics, are part of His Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. That implies that through divine providence, that God permits each of us to experience, we receive the direct means and cause of our calling and vocation. All are called by God to be holy by the Holy Spirit regardless of religion, race or creed. We are all God's children, created and called to be sanctified.

The Apostles started the process from an established ecclesical perspective and we are a continuation of that same process and calling. Sanctification in itself had no beginning for God is holy from eternity and has always been sanctifying all creation outside of himself starting with the angels to humankind.

Let us listen to one of the Doctors of the Church, St John Chrysostom, who was called the "golden-mouthed" and listen to what he has to say about the Apostles.

"I wish that it were possible to meet with one who could deliver to us the history of the Apostles, not only all they wrote and spoke of, but of the rest of their daily life, even what they ate, when they walked, and where they sat, what they did every day, in what parts they were... where they lodge-to relate everything with minute exactness".

With prayer and the Holy Spirit, God will inform us everything we need to know about the holy Apostles that will enable us to do God's holy will. There is plentiful information and depth in the sacred scripture and especially in the holy gospels that will flood our minds and hearts to the fullest possible degree.

The gospels will tell us very little about the Apostles except perhaps Peter, Paul and John from a surface level. However, the Holy Spirit will enable us to plumb the depths of God. The below is taken from "The Twelve" by C. Bernard Ruffin

From the writings of Eusebius, however, we are able to glean a small amount of information about the lives of the apostles. Moreover, other writers from the second, third and fourth centuries yield further tidbits of information. Among these were Papias(A.D.60-135A), bishop of Hierapolis (in what is now Turkey), a disciple of St John, whose works, no longer extant, were quoted in fragments by Eusebius and other writers; St Clement of Rome (A.D.30-97), a disciple of Peter and Paul who reigned as pope between A.D.92-101; Iranaeus (c.A.D.120-202), bishop of Lyon (in what is now France); Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D.153-217), an eminent Greek theologian and hymnist; Hippolytus (c.A.D.170-236), a pupil of Irenaeus and author of a number of theological works; Tertullian (c.A.D. 145-221), a Latin-speaking African theologian; Origen (c.A.D.185-254), a celebrated Egyptian teacher, theologian, and ascetic; and St Jerome (c 342-420), the celebrated Italian scholar and translator. The information these first-class scholars were able to gather is, alas, in bits and pieces, but it is all that we have that is reliable.

St Paul is included in the twelve Apostle's website because he made a great contribution to the early Church as we too can make a tremendous input to the Church today when we allow God to lead us and be guided by the same Holy Spirit.

St Matthias was a chosen apostle inasmuch as he was Judas Iscariot replacement. Judas will be mentioned on this site for he was an original Apostle of Jesus, but he will not receive prominence. The information on Judas will focus on the temptation and sin of Judas and his despair and fall. Lastly Judas' information will cover the price and punishment of his betrayal of Christ and this information will follow after his replacement, St Matthias.

In keeping with the spirit of the gospels that Jesus gave to the Apostles, and to us too, who are likewise called- for all have been sent by the Father, as Jesus- to share that same Holy Spirit to lead and guide all to imitate Jesus' words and works according to our own unique ability, calling and the grace of God.

"The Apostles" by Otto Hophan, O.F.M.Cap and translated from the German by L. Edward Wasserman, will be used exclusively. It was published by The Newman Press, Westminister, Maryland 1962. The below is a Foreword by Father Hophan.

Awakening the minds and hearts of Christians to an awareness of the apostles is a very pleasant and important task, but it is also somewhat difficult. At baptism we were infused with a latent sympathy for these beloved men who were the first followers, believers in, and proclaimers of Christ. Every aspect and era of Christendom must be evaluated and examined in the light of the message brought by these first witnesses of Jesus. The "apostolic tradition" was placed, from the very beginning, upon a lofty and superior foundation.

The difficulties encountered in writing a book about the apostles lie in the lack of reliable source material. The apostles preached Christ, not themselves; therefore what Scripture records concerning them is often incidental, and is always presented in connection with Christ. Information from tradition concerning the lives and destines of the apostles is also scarce. Even though the apocryphal-spurious-acts have much to offer about the geographic scenes and national characteristics of the apostolic labors, these lack the necessary reliability. In view of the great importance of the apostles, this state of affairs explains the errors, so striking in themselves, in books on the lives of these men. Comprehensive and coherent portrayals of the apostles are few and far between.

This book represents an effort to bring the apostles out of their humble obscurity. Its goal is to reconstruct the personality of each one of these men, each so different, yet all of them so generally unknown to us; to form a concept of these living, dynamic personalities from the more or less numerous mosaic stones scattared throughout Scripture.

Even with all the restraint of the sacred texts concerning the personal importance and affairs of the apostles, there are, nevertheless, a few words about most of them which, after they are carefully and meticulously scrutinized, often say more than is at first apparent. In addition, the whole of the New Testament, the milieu in which the apostles lived, and tradition provide a powerful and informative background for even the most modest portrayal of an apostle. Making use of the literary license, the author has sought to bridge the remaining gaps in information about the individual apostles by following his own conjectures. Even in this respect, however, his depictions stand the test of comparison with historical and, above all, scriptural evidence. Although apocryphal testimony was at times made use of in order to present a more complete study of a particular apostle, it is never cited as the sole and finally persuasive proof. The reader interested in studing the apocryphal acts in more detail will find more through studies in other works.

This book could very well serve as an introduction to the study of the New Testament. It would be unpardonable if a work which depends so completely upon the Scriptures for information did not provide some degree of commentary upon them.

These texts, even when written in the form of a modest letter of instruction, provide insights into the personalities of the apostles who wrote them... The substance and sense of the Holy Books must be entrusted to the reader in a study based on solid, scientific, biblical scholarship, yet unencumbered with scientific ballast. This work is intended to be not only instructive and informative, but also constructive and formative. The personalities of the apostles, as well as their words and deeds, should have an immediate significance for, and influence on, the active and practical Christian. The work is not a long-winded moral, but a concrete application of the message of the apostles to our own time and lives.

There is another line of thought to be found in this book: the Church. It is in light of the Church that the first two purposes of the book had to be considered, not as apologetics and even less as polemics, but in the spirit of the Gospels; for it is in the Gospels that the Church has her home.

The contract for this book was concluded on the vigil of Pentecost, a date rich in promise and quite symbolic for a work about the apostles. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit it should reach out to an age anxious about the new world, proudly and forcibly to proclaim with Peter and Paul: Christ is " 'the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the corner stone. Neither is there salvation in any other'"(Acts 4:11-12). For another foundation no one can lay, except Him who has already been established: Jesus Christ!

The hour of the apostles is at hand. To all who earnestly seek the perfection of Christ, this book is dedicated. Christo laborantibus!

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; saints
St. John
1 posted on 10/21/2010 6:49:24 PM PDT by Salvation
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The following paragraph is taken from the Catholic Almanac

A Galilean, son of Zebedee, brother of James the Greater (with whom he was called a "Son of Thunder"), a fisherman, probably a disciple of John the Baptist, one of the Evangelists, called the "Beloved Disciple"; with Peter and James the Greater, witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter to life, the transfiguration, the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani; Mary was commended to his special care by Christ; the fourth Gospel, three Catholic Epistles and Revelation bear his name; according to various accounts, lived at Ephesus in Asia Minor for some time and died a natural death about 100; in art, is represented by any eagle, symbolic of the sublimity of the contents of his Gospel; Dec 27 (Roman Rite), May 8 (Byzantine Rite).

St John the Evangelist is the beloved Apostle. By tradition he is the author of the fourth gospel, letters and the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. John and his brother James responded to the call of Jesus immediately and even left their father, Zebedee, in the boat when Jesus said: "follow me".

These brothers were called "Sons of Thunder" possibly because they wanted Christ to swiftly punish those who treated them rudely or were mistreated. Little did they know at that time that followers of Jesus would be greatly persecuted, afflicted and murdered down through the centuries.

John was perhaps the youngest of the Apostles and remained with Jesus' mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross when nearly all of the other Apostles abandoned Him. He received Mary from Jesus immediately before he died on the cross and heard the words of the dying Savior before He expired when the loving Redeemer said to St John, son, behold your mother. St Joseph had died before Jesus' public ministry and Christ entrusted John to care for the only possession that Jesus had: His Mother.

Jesus could not adequately live without His mother on earth and for that reason He possessed and enjoyed the woman, Mary, His dearest mother, more than the entire heavenly court. She had given Him His own Flesh, the means that would allow all humanity to return to the kingdom of God. Giving up Mary stripped Him of His masterpiece, the love of His life and He saved her for Himself until next to His last breath. And then, when He had no more breath or time, He bestowed his most treasured possession on us. With His very last breath, He told His Father, His life was completed and surrended Himself to the mystery of God.

And the same time, the Crucified One, when he was hardly recognized, disfigured and hanged out to die, lovingly bestowed on Mary, St John and all humanity with him. He knew that nobody was more capable of sharing divine love to us than the woman who have given Him His earthly existence.

John and his brother James were fishermen and worked with their father and with Sts. Peter and his brother, Andrew. They probably lived in the same town of Bethsaida and they practiced their trade and business near the Sea of Galilee. Apart from that, we know little about John's early life except some writers claim that he was a disciple of St John the Baptist before Jesus came on the scene and that according to St Augustine, Doctor of the Church, John never married. From his earliest youth, John cultivated "singular chastity."

John's mother, Salome, was also a follower of Jesus and remained faithful to Him especially on Calvary along with many other women. We can not say that of the men. Salome was a disciple of the Lord and was known to speak up for her sons to Jesus as any mother would do to better their positions in Jesus' kingdom that was being formed. Hardly anyone at that time could imagine that Jesus' kingdom was to be of a spiritual nature and that any and all positions of honor would be one of servants to God's children and not necessarily one of leadership and authority.

The beloved apostle was favored by Jesus and was taken on special visits with Jesus that most of the other Apostles did not attend. John witnessed miracles of a private nature with his brother, James, and Peter, the head of the Apostles. John was definitely a member of the inner circle, however, John, nor anyone of the other Apostles, had a better understanding of Jesus' mission and ministry at that time.

Jesus occasionally scolded or corrected the Apostles and John was no exception. Once when a person was casting out demons in Jesus' name, John wanted Jesus to stop that person. Jesus told John that the man who was not against Him was in fact for Him and not to be hindered. The evangelist, St. Mark, wrote: No man who performs a miracle using My name can at the same time speak ill of Me.

Like nearly all the Apostles, John is hardly mentioned except for a few times in the gospels. St John stays clear about identifying himself when he writes about himself in the fourth gospel. The gospels are about Jesus not the Apostles. They accompanied Jesus in His journeys but the focus is on His words and actions and the theme of repentance, salvation and redemption through the new law of love toward God and His creatures.

Jesus made it clear that the new law of love did not replace the old law. God is first and foremost a God of order and law. What Christ said was that love is greater than fear of God. However, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. St Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, and often referred to as the 'gentleman' saint because of his tremendous kindness, said that we ought to love God to fear Him not fear Him that you may be able to love Him. Strictly speaking, Francis said it more elegantly: "We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear."

Moses gave us the law of the ten commandments directly from God. Jesus, who is the Son of God, gave us love of the law through a new commmandment made from the old commandments: love God and neighbor as He loved us.

John probably lived longer than any of the other Apostles and some traditions say that Mary lived to her late sixties or early seventies. John cared for her and watched over Mary in the manner that she wanted him to and traveled with Mary whenever she wanted him for extra protection. Although St John appears to have been the least traveled of the Apostles he took his responsiblity of caring for Mary, his parents and his relatives most serious.

This is some evidence that Mary went with John to Ephesus and may have live there for a while. She may have died there but there is another, perhaps stronger tradition, that indicates that she returned to John's house on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. According to this tradition, it was from there that the Virgin's body was assumed incorrupt, into heaven. This information is taken again from the "12 Apostles" by Ruffin.

St John probably died a martyr of desire at a very old age after some attempts on his life failed through divine intervention. St Jerome, Doctor of the Church, stated that John was nearly martyred at Rome and that he was thrown into a cauldron of hot oil, but somehow emerged unhurt.

In his later years, John seems to have made his home in Ephesus for the rest of his life. There were churches there that were mentioned in the Book of Revelations. John did some supervising and according to "The Constitution of the Holy Apostles", he ordained bishops as well as priests in each of the cities of Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

The gospel of John is quite different from the gospels of Sts. Matthew, Mark and Luke, the synoptic gospel authors. They would follow sort of lockstep together and John would focus on the earlier ministry of Jesus. John seems to write from a theological aspects and was forever highlighting the importance of loving one another and that God is love. C. Bernard Ruffin, mentioned above, indicates that John's gospel was written for Gentile believers and that John does include some severe statements such as the man who deliberately sins is a child of the devil. John does not hesitate to let us know that he is unafraid to mention God's threats along with His promises.

The following links provides additional insight on St John:

The remaining part of John's life will focus on the fourth gospel, his epistles and the Book of Revelation.

The following is taken from "The Apostle" by Otto Hophan, O.F.M.Cap. and listed in the sources in the Doctors of the Catholic Church.

Chapter Four

John, the "beloved" apostle, was outstanding for his nobility and dignity. Although he ranked second in the college of the apostles, and his authority was less than that of Peter, he surpassed him in knowledge and love. St Augustine compared John to a mountain, who:

welcomed peace for the people. Mountains are the large souls, hills are the small souls. The smaller souls would not shelter the faith, if the larger souls, the mountains, were not to be illuminated by wisdom, so that they can share with the small what the small are able to contain.

In the four lists of the apostles, St John is among the first four, the favored among the chosen, the honored among the honored. In St Luke's Acts of the Apostles, his name is placed immediately after Peter's name. St. Paul considered him, along with James and Cephas, as one of the pillars of the Church. Both Scripture and tradition elevate John to a position that is sublime, noble and great. They awaken sympathetic admiration and respect for him in all his simple and quiet majesty.

In the Gnostic "Acts of John," dating from the second half of the second century, is found the earliest mention of a picture of John. It was supposedly so beautiful that Lycomedes, a devoted admirer of this apostle, surrounded it with idolatrous art, altars, wreaths, and lights. "Valde honorandus est beatus Joannes-truly venerable is St. John," is the description found in the liturgy. There is little basis in this for the daintiness and sentimentality with which John is portrayed. He was indeed the disciple of love, but his love was a manly love appropriate to the Son of Thunder.

Since the fourth century St. John has been called simply the theologian. Traditions has assigned to him the symbol of a proud and daring eagle, which, according to fable, flies straight to the sun, never wearied or blinded. John may well be compared to an eagle, for his thoughts soared higher than the thoughts of any other apostle.

John, the Eagle

John was not born of noble blood. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, the brother of James the Elder. Like his father and brother, he was a fisherman. It is quite probable that he came from Bethsaida, as did the other pair of apostle-brothers, Peter and Andrew. God had chosen him while he was yet in his mother's womb, and willed to him the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The allusions to John found in the Gospels permit the assumption that he, like Peter, was self-supporting rather than poor. The Church Fathers considered him to be the youngest of all the apostles, since he lived longer than the others. It is likely that he owned his own house in Jerusalem, and that he took the Blessed Virgin there after the Crucifixion of her Son. He was highly respected; his influence was such that he had direct contact with the elite circle of high priests. John was pleasant and agreeable, an ideal partner for the rich young man in the gospels, whom the Lord looked upon, loved, and wanted to follow Him, but whose "face fell at the saying, and he went away sad, for he had great possessions." This man kept the Commandments of God, but did not have the apostle's selfless charity.

John did not attend great schools of learning. The rulers and elders judged him, along with Peter, as an "uneducated and ordinary" man, not trained in the rabbinical traditions and having no authority to teach. But this "idiote" was later to write books which scholars have studied and will continue to study for centuries.

The only teacher John had was nature, especially the sea. As he sailed, his eyes would scan the blue surface and distance horizon. He would listen to the rhythmical murmuring of the waves and the crashing fury of the sudden storms that came down on the sea. The imagery of the sea remained fresh and clear in his mind, and it appears in his accounts of the life and teachings of Christ. The observant reader of St. John's Gospel cannot help but notice how often this evangelist makes reference to water, the sea, fish, lightning and thunder, and clouds.

In the Apocalypse, a book filled with mysteries, St John veils in secrecy the unutterable visions of the next world. He shows a predilecton for the clear and simple language of a fisherman: he heard the voice of Jesus, "like the voice of many waters"; he heard the voice of angels, "like a voice of many waters, and like a voice of loud thunder"; he heard "a voice of a great crowd, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders." What no eye had seen, not ear had heard, this inspired author of revelation described in the language of a fisherman; the angel "showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming forth from the throne of God and of the Lamb," John, who rose to greater heights than eagles fly, did not disdain simplicity of speech.

St John, observing the crown from his lofty position, sought out his counterpart. Here was an eagle soaring over the open plains in search of another eagle. Under the guidance of John the Baptist, the son of Zebedee prepared himself beforehand in prayer and penance for Him who was to baptize, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It is the example of an old eagle luring a young eagle away from his perch in such a way that the young will fly toward him and be blinded by the sun. As the Baptist, on a beautiful spring day, saw Jesus, the Messias, the one who was to come, he called, "'Behold the lamb of God!'" The Lamb of God! So indelibly was this word of the elder John imprinted on the mind of the young John that he himself, later, as an evangelist, spoke of Christ as the Lamb. With John, "Lamb" was an oft-repeated title for his Master-often set in always-modern poetry:

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
to receive power and divinity
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing."
"To him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb,
blessing and honor and glory and dominions,
forever and ever."
"Salvation belongs to our God
Who sits upon the throne,
and to the Lamb."
"Now has come the salvation,
and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ;
For the accuser of our brethren
has been cast down,
he who accused them before our God
day and night.
And they overcame him through the blood
of the Lamb..."

Many more times did John, the "eagle," call Christ the "Lamb." By the eagle was the Lamb described; by the eagle was the Lamb espied. Never again did the evangelist take his eye off his Master.

It was almost seventy years after the event that John wrote about his meeting with Jesus. "It was about the tenth hour." We know nothing of what was said between Jesus and John on that late afternoon and early evening. Their first words of love and joy have nowhere been preserved. But theirs was a meeting filled with the ecstasy of Easter bells swinging and ringing after long days of sad silence. The air they breathed became clearer than a Mediterranean sky. The ground they stood on became purer than a field of saffrons in spring. This was the meeting of Jesus and John. Other words of Jesus were later to be twisted, distorted, and rejected, but these first words were preserved, not for man, but from man, in the pure chalices of the souls of this holy pair.

One is glad for Jesus' sake, but more so yet for the sake of all mankind, that in John's first meeting with the Messias this beloved disciple represented us so nobly and ideally. He was our gentle but staunch advocate.

If one read beyond the pages in St. John's Gospel concerning the calling of the fishermen on the River Jordan, he immediately notices that the evangelist himself remains always in the background. John was at the marriage feast of Cana, but when he recorded this incident in his Gospel, he merely stated that Jesus "manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him." And soon thereafter John witnessed the cleansing of the temple when our Lord drove out the money-changers: "And his disciples remembered that it is written, "The zeal for thy house has eaten me up.'" John stood quietly on the sidelines, a mere spectator, as Jesus and Nicodemus questioned and answered one another. After reading this gloom conversation, one get the impression that John had ceased to give the incident any deep consideration: "Now this is the judgment: The light has come into the world, yet men have loved the darknes rather than the light, for their works were evil."

Then the time came again when John, with the other first followers, felt that he had to turn away from the sublime life of Jesus and go back to Galilee to his nets and boats on the sea. Yet, this young fisherman, since he had spent time with Christ, no longer had his mind on his ordinary, daily affairs. No doubt he gave his father Zebedee many absent-minded answers. As the waves were filling his boat, he thought, still astonished and smiling, about the jars filled with water at the marriage feast of Cana, and how they were miraculously changed to wine, and he saw again the look of joy and surprise and puzzlement on the face of the chief steward. As the wind on the sea would suddenly sweep down from above, he remembered the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: "'The wind blows where it will, and thou hearest its sound but dost not know where it comes from or where it goes.'" Often as he spent sleepless nights, his thoughts were concentrated again and again upon the mysteriously clear words of Christ: "' He who does the truth comes to the light...'" Constantly he was recalling the words of the Messias to him, to his father Zebedee, to his brother James, and to his mother Salome. His thoughts were only of Jesus. He longed to see this great man once again, to do the truth, to come to the light.

After a ten-month-long advent time the Lord returned and told the two pairs of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John, to "'put out into the deep.'" St John, the most sincere of them all, may well have been the first to understand that this was more than a mere fishing excursion. "' duc in altum-put out into the deep.'" That was the signal for which the young disciple had waited so long.

It was with real joy, after that first miraculous catch of fish, that John pulled the boat onto the land, quickly fastened the nets, and followed the Lord forever, "in altum," into the deep, to the light. The eagle had an objective to reach, and this was Jesus, the Lamb. Yet each man who is like an eagle-like John-can reach out for our Lord Jesus Christ. A more courageous act could not be ventured, for even the most emboldened of souls can find neither a higher nor a worthier goal.

John, in contrast to the direct and practical Peter, was a man of great spiritual heights. He was more of a contemplative than an active minister of Christ. The very first venture of the young eagle was a flight to the limitless heights of the Trinity: "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God." St Augustine, himself a "soaring eagle" marveled at this steep climb of John:

He surpassed all the summits of the earth, surpassed all the spaces of the heavens, surpassed all the heights of the stars, surpassed all the Choirs and Legions of angels. Had he not surpassed all which was created, he would not have come to Him, through whom all has been made.

"All things were made through him, and without him was made nothing that has been made." John never fell from these heights.

The biggest dissimilarity beween John and the other three evangelists lies in their use of language. In the writings of John, thoughts on the kingdom of God and the holy will of God are no more prevalent than they are in another New Testament writings. But the direct opposite is true concerning life from God, life in God, life by God, life for God. "Life," "light," "love," and their opposites, "death," "darkness," "hate," are the six fundamental concepts of the Johannine part of Scripture. The evangelist never tired of repeating them; they made up his language.

These concepts peculiar to John-especially his particular concepts of "Logos"-were taken up during the life of this apostle and absorbed into the philosophy of Philo, a Jewish Platonist, and into the religions of the Orient. John was limited-as were all scriptural writers-to the use of words of time to make manifest the truth of eternity. But he did not hesitate to take up the religious principles that were being taught at the time. He purified them and filled them with Christian contents, as one would fill empty vases.

"Life" and "light" were not in the religions of Mithras (an ancient Persian God), not in the cult of Dionysius (a God of Greek mythology), not in the adoration of an earthly king, but only in the religion in the God-Man, the King of heaven, Christ: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." Jesus Christ was also the true "Logos" not as Philo and Heraclitus" considered themselves to be the logos, a medium state, created in time, between a god and the world. No, the true Word was "in the beginning" already, not created in time. He was "with God" as a separate personality, the Second Person of the Trinity. He was "in God" for the three Persons have one Divine Nature. "The Word was God" Himself. Thus St. John guided the intellectual tendencies of his age to Christ. As an eagle he could fly over the storm; as a fisherman he could battle the storm.

As an eagle can perch on the edge of a steep cliff without being in danger of falling to the depths below, so St John could study and master the brilliant philosophical systems of his contemporaries without falling into the errors of their thoughts. He had been one of the specially favored three who ascended Mount Tabor with Christ; there he gazed upon the splendor and grandeur and glory of the majesty of God. He was in the Garden of Olives; there he saw his Master's humanity in agony in the sweat of His brow.

It was in these places, not from Alexandrian philosophy, that John first received his bold idea: "And the Word was made flesh." During his life he was the closest of all to the secrets of Christ. There was no need for him to yield to the religion of others, neither Persian nor Greek, neither Babylonian nor Egyptian. He was strong enough that he had no need to stoop to the level of other religions and philosophies, but rather he brought them up to his own heights, into the light of the Lamb.

John, the eagle! The power of the eagle was the standard Jesus had chosen by which this apostle was to follow Him to the heights. But John could not do this by himself. St Augustine remarked,

Perhaps John himself did not say how it is, but how he could. He spoke as a man of God, truly as an enlightened man of God, but always as a man. Because he was enlightened, he said something. Had he not been enlightened, he would have said nothing. Because, however, he was an enlightened man, he did not say everything that is, but what a man can say.

John, the Son of Thunder

One may suppose that such a man as John, a man with a great mind, would live exclusively in the world of thought. A certain worthless type of art from years past portrayed John as a dreamy and effeminate youth, or at least stressed his intellectuality much more than his amiability-concerning which much still remains to be said. This disciple of Christ, despite his profundity of thought, was in no way a dry scholar. He was very much alive and very active. So extraordinary and prominent was the vitality and impetuosity of his character that our Lord Himself, when choosing the Twelve, surnamed him and his brother "Boanerges, that is Sons of Thunder." The reason that St John wrote so frequently about "life" in his Gospel and in his other writings may well be that the words of Christ concerning "life" interested and appealed to him, the apostle so full of vitality, of "life."

But in this same natural tendency lay a great danger for the vivacious apostle. It was St Augustine who spoke so beautifully of "the earthly atmosphere, that also surrounds the highest summits of human nobility." And John, the eagle, was also occasionally caught in this atmosphere of human weakness. This is evident in the highly ambitious request to occupy the first place in the kingdom of the Lord, which James and John put to Jesus-though it was James more than John who proposed this desire for glory.

This bold challenge was directed against Peter. Yet John was, then and later, a close friend of Peter, and he proved this friendship on the first Easter Sunday morning by his recognition of Peter's right to be first. He did not dare to enter the tomb before the first of the apostles. He strained to see into the tomb, even got down on his knees. He wanted to enter, but he waited for Peter to come and be the first to enter and see. By himself John would hardly have attempted to take the first place in the kingdom of heaven away from his friend. It was his brother James who had led him astray and brought about this blunder against humility.

On the other hand, the apostle at times used his thunderous temperament with a lack of charity and patience. The Gospels give two examples to show this. Together with his brother James, John was ready to demand that fire from heaven fall upon the unfriendly Samaritans and destroy them. And on another occasion, after the second prediction of the Passion and while Christ was speaking against ambition and envy, both Mark and Luke pointed out what John had to say: "Master, we saw a man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.'" But Jesus showed that such a zeal, such an unkind interest for the kingdom of God, would, in the course of centuries, by its own mistakes, work for Him, not against Him, and would soon be one with Him, bringing others to Him: "'Do not forbid him, because there is no one who shall work a miracle in my name, and forthwith be able to speak ill of me. For he who is not against you is for you.'" St. Paul had advanced further than John in this respect. In his Epistle to the Philippians this instruction of Christ was re-echoed: "Some indeed peach Christ even out of envy and contentiousness... But what of it? Provided only that in evey way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed."

John must have been at great pains to perfect his life, to tame and control his impetuosity, that he might walk in the holy way of the Gospels. His ardent and forward nature flashes even today from his many passages of his writings. He wrote, for example, even in his old age, that one should never greet a teacher of false doctrine, or received him into the home. Irenaeus recorded how John once sprang from the bath in Ephesus when the heretic Cerinthus stepped in. And the saying has been passed down through the centuries that he met another such teacher in Rome, and spoke to him quite sharply, "I know you well, you first-born of Satan."

But in this instance a deeper reason for his impatience becomes apparent. This intolerance, which knew no pity, did not come from obstinacy, but rather from a very deep love. Because John loved the Lord with an ardent heart, he turned against any abuse or insult to Christ with all the vehemence of his whole person. All this was not for himself, but for his beloved Master.

Yet John, with his zealous love for the Lord, learned that "'the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'" Every work done for Christ deserves recogniton and acceptance. John, the Son of Thunder, struggled for this benevolent love. His own pen revealed this. As he was to speak again and again of love, he unknowingly revealed his own love for the God-Man and all the sacrifices he was called upon to make for this love. Suddenly his love for Christ no longer seems to thunder and fire and rage. It is a true love. It is a manly and mature charity.

Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickness, but rejoices with the truth; bears with all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

John, the Beloved Disciple

The Son of Thunder was a disciple of love. What a seeming contradiction! And yet, as has been seen, the violent thunder and lightning cracked and flashed only from John's full and devoted love. It was not the violence or thunder that comprised his nature, his whole character and personality and temperament, but his vehement and impetuous love. In his own Gospel, written by his own hand, he called himself "the disciple whom Jesus loved" no less than five times.

Certainly the Lord loved the others too. At the Last Supper, when speaking of the New Commandment, Christ called His apostles "filioli" little children, and very significantly explained,

"No longer do I call you servants, because the servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."

Now they were full-fledged apostles. Now they knew Christ's secrets, and they were fully united with Him.

Still, between Jesus and John there remained a secret of intimacy-a real spirituality, a close spiritual union, a deep contemplation. Here was a secret love and understanding which the other apostles did not share. But the others-with the exception of Judas-recognized and respected this favor of love that John enjoyed. They neither questioned nor vied for John's first place with the Lord-as once Peter's first place of honor was challenged. Certainly it would have been better if the disciples had sought the place of John in the heart of their Master than the place of Peter in the majesty of God.

One might question the reason for this secrecy between Jesus and John. But God's love is above human understanding. Therefore we cannot delve into the inner secrets of this friendship which existed between Jesus, the Son of God the Father, and John, the son of Zebedee, a fisherman. Yet this beloved disciple's love for his divine Master was not inappropriate. He was an eagle and a Boanerges. And here is seen the kinship of his soul with the soul of Jesus, who came down from heaven by His own word to spread fire upon the earth, not that it might consume and destroy man, as John once thought, but that it might enkindle the hearts and souls of all mankind with a burning love for God. "'I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?'".

The text of the liturgy on the feast of John the apostle, inspired by the convictions of the Fathers, shows how deep and strong Jesus' attachment and affection were for John especially because of his virginity. The aging John himself wrote in the Apocalypse about virgin men who "follow the Lamb wherever he goes." He himself was able to follow Him to the heights of the Trinity-"'Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.'" John was pure of heart, and John saw his God.

In his Gospel, St. John recorded three occasions on which his friendship with Jesus glowed the brightest. The first of these was Holy Thursday. To make preparations for the last evening of His life, Jesus chose two of his disciples who loved Him the most, each in his own way, Peter and John: "'Go and prepare for us the passover that we may eat it.'" His heart full of anguish, John prepared the paschal lamb. The lamb! He made ready the chalice for his Master; soon he also was to drink from this chalice.

As they settled themselves on the cushions in a semi-circle around the low table, Jesus called John to come and take the first place beside Him. A greater price had to be paid for this first place on the bosom of the Saviour than for the two places on the right and left of God in heaven-for which John and his brother had earlier asked. He was now so near to his divine Friend that he could hear and feel the beating of His pure heart that throbbed with love in that hour, like a white waterfall breaking from the mountains in early spring. "'I have greatly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.'" He was now so near to those holy lips that he could take up Christ's wonderful words like a precious vessel under a fountain, as Jesus spoke to comfort his disciples-and Himself-before the bitter and bloody pain of His suffering and death.

St John is the only evangelist to devote five complete chapters of his Gospel to the Last Supper, to Jesus' words of comfort, exhortation and farewell:

"I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself; that where I am, there you also may be....I am the way, and the truth, and the life... If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever.... I will not leave your orphans; I will come to you....But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you....I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, be bears much fruit....Abide in my love."

Why should it be improbable that this beloved disciple should be able to repeat word for word the thoughts of that last speech of Jesus, even after many decades? In that unforgettable hour our Lord had spoken directly into his ear, directly into his heart.

Halfway through the meal Jesus said solemnly, "'Amen I say to you, one of you will betray me-one who is eating with me.'" John felt the trembling run through Jesus. He quivered. Even today His statement about the betrayer stirs and moves and shakes us; the same is true in all four Gospels. Leonardo da Vinci has dramatically portrayed in his immortal "Last Supper"-fortunately restored in Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan-the tense excitement which seized the apostle when Jesus disclosed His horrible secret.

The few disciples reclining next to the Lord were especially nervous: John, Peter, and -and Judas! John bent forward. He looked at Peter. He looked at the Lord. "Is it I?" Peter did not move. He stared at Judas. He stared at the Lord. "Is it I?" Judas was caught between them. He was paralyzed. His eyes were wild. He was terrified. He felt the stares from those on his left, but dared not look to his left-"Is it I?" he heard someone say-and he could not move, even though he wanted just to glance to the left. He knew the eyes from the right warded him off-"Is it I?"-and he could not look to the right-"Is it I?"-nor did he even dare to look at Jesus. There was Jesus, his Master, God. Judas needed the silver. He needed all thirty pieces.

Jesus did not answer the frighten apostles.

The disciples therefore looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. Now one of his disciples, he who Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus' bosom, Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him and said to him, "Who is it of whom he speaks?"

Peter had the keys to the kingdom of heaven; John had the keys to the secret in Jesus' heart. John,

therefore, leaning back upon the bosom of Jesus, said to him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is he for whom I shall dip the bread, and give it to him."

Even today one can feel the intolerable and overpowering suspense and tension. One can see the eyes of the evangelist staring with fear and terror, when Jesus-as was customary for the master of the house who wanted to give one whom he loved special attention-"had dipped the bread: and "gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.


The disciple of love and the disciple of treason! They suspected each other's secret, for both love and hate have sharp eyes. With malice and scorn Judas had followed the tender distinction of John. He envied, jeered, and scoffed under his breath. Hate twitched on his face. It was not easy for John to keep silent and observe this outrageous sacrilege, this malicious blasphemy, this stealthy act of a devil performed with the ease of a twisting snake. A year before this night, after Christ's discourse on the Eucharist at Capharnaum, the words of Christ had been deeply imprinted on John's mind:

"Yet one of you is a devil." Now he was speaking of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon; for he it was, though one of the Twelve, who was to betray him.

After the anointing at Bethany-Mary "took a pound of ointment, genuine nard of great value, and anointed the feet of Jesus"-Judas, the betrayer, showed himself for the hypocrite he was:

"Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denari, and given to the poor?" Now he said this, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and holding the purse, used to take what was put in it.

John knew that, of one of the Twelve was to commit this unbelievable and monstrous atrocity, it could be none other than Judas. Only this "devil" and "thief" was capable of such a base and vile act. It could only be "Satan entered into him." Would that he dared to hurl himself on this betrayer! Jesus, however-who had hundreds of legions of angels at his disposal-did not choose to reveal the betrayer to the others. His divine mercy was extended even to His enemies. He hurried Judas on: "'What thou dost, do quickly.'" John He held back on His bosom. How great His mercy to Judas! The beloved apostle again leaned back onto the bosom and heart of the Lord, his young eyes filled with tears of rage and love. It is moving to think that Jesus in this difficult hour found a comfort in the friendship with His ardently loving follower. God was comforted in His grief by a fisherman's son!

"When, therefore, he had received the morsel, he went out quickly. Now it was night." Only Jesus and Judas knew how dark that night was, and how black.

But inside a night had never been so bright. After the betrayer had departed, light and love flowed as freely as a flood, unhampered by the darkness.

Jesus, knowing that his hour had come, to pass out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end...And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In like manner he took the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you."

Of all the apostle at the Last Supper, John was the closest to the heart and hand of our Lord, the first of all to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. John, then, became the first communicant. Here, between Jesus, the Author of love, and John, the apostle of love, the perfect union was consummated-"comunio", union with, united with, one with.

St John was the only evangelist to write down the beautiful discourse on the Eucharist after the miraculous multiplication of bead.

"He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me, he also shall live because of me."

What John recorded he had heard, and what is more significant, he experienced it on that first Holy Thursday, a great day in his friendship with Jesus. This was the first of three great days in the beloved disciples's friendship with his Master, as recorded by the evangelist himself.

The second day was Good Friday. One might think that John should be reproached severely, because, on the Mount of Olives, favored him by permitting him to take the first place at the Last Supper and to recline on His bosom, this disciple of love fell asleep. Then he deserted his Master and fled with the others. St Luke, the diagnosing doctor, excuses that incomprehensible sleep: He "found them sleeping for sorrow." And Jesus Himself was quick to look for a reason to pardon them: "'The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'"

To summarize, Mark added, "Then all his disciples left him and fled." John, too, feeling a bit guilty, commented, "But Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple." Peter went as far as the gate to the courtyard of the high priests, but this other apostle went right in. Before he had run away, had hidden himself; now he went right into the courtyard. He was John.

There John stood, waiting, his heart oppressed, full of anguish, awaiting the decision that was to fall upon his beloved Master. But why did John, Jesus' closest friend, desert the accused on the way of the cross, so that a compete stranger had to be forced to help our Lord? It was the disciple's last chance to do something. Or had Jesus asked a much more difficult deed of His beloved follower, a deed even more difficult than carrying two heavy wooden logs? Was it something, Christ Himself could not do then? In the courtyard did His eyes plead with John to go and bring His mother? Yes.

St John went quickly and brought Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Calvary. Did John comfort Mary, or did Mary except the will of the Father. "Thy will be done."

Yet one can breathe with some relief that Mary did not have to stand alone beneath the cross, suffering alone beside her Son. John, one of the Twelve, was there. He was not ashamed of the Friend who was condemned as a criminal. He did not fear for his own life as the other apostles did, for he realized more than the others that the crucified Saviour was his life. John had everything to gain by dying with the Lord whom he loved. He did not fear death, even nailed to a cross made from a tree.

John stood by the cross and listened to the iron hammer hit hard against the heavy iron nails. At every blow he felt the thud in the earth beneath his feet. His heart pounded with pain, as the Lord's had throbbed in John's ear only the night before. Christ had foretold all of this. He heard the soldiers rail at Him and revile Him, and blaspheme Him. He was alarmed and startled and could not understand when he heard the cry,"'Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani... My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'" the cry of Him who was with God, who was God. But John persevered. He stood by his forsaken Friend. He stood by in an ecstasy of grief and love, as the soldiers came and "one of the soldiers opened his side with a lance," the same side where John had reclined and rested only the evening before. He saw with his own eyes how "immediately there came out blood and water."

John the evangelist, who not only witnessed the majesty of the Lord but also saw His heart, testified in his Gospel, "And he who saw it borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he tells the truth, that you also may believe." He turned his eyes away from this small red streak of blood, drying purple on the white corpse, and he stared into the distance as though seeing a vision. He stared at the crowd, as the Scripture was fulfilled: "'They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.'"

The love of John followed the Lord in His death like the last, golden ray from a setting sun. Only Jesus knows what the fidelity of His friend meant to Him in those last hours of agony. At least one of the Twelve was there. Judas, the traitorous apostles, had sold Him for thirty pieces of silver. But John, the beloved apostle, bought Him back with love and persevered with Him to the end. The price was thirty-one times as much, plus infinity, and the reward was an eternity of happiness. John was the flower, the crown, the seal of the other disciples.

Then Jesus, so poor He no longer owned a garment with which to cover His sacred body- "'They divided my garments among them; and for my vesture they cast lots'"-opened up His heart and gave to John His last, His most beloved, His mother, Mary.

When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold thy son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold thy mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Could one give a greater gift to a friend than his mother? Could one give a greater gift to his mother than his friend? Before the cross the destitute love of both was reunited in each other through the Lord. John was to care for Mary. Mary was to care for John. Mary could not have been provided for better than by John. John could not have been provided for better than by Mary.

It is easily understandable why Christian art has so often depicted this sublime trinity of love, Jesus, Mary, John. These pictures of Mary and John standing before the crucified Christ offer a deep and symbolic sight, and occasion much meditation for all Christianity: always will Mary look after the followers of Christ, whom He loves; and always should the followers of Christ, who love Jesus, take Mary to themselves.

The third great day of love for John was Easter, the first Easter morning. Certainly Holy Scripture reveals none of the brilliance and magnificence of the Resurrection in which John, like Peter, had a share. Even before the dark night had yielded to white morning with its burning glare, John's deep love had strengthened his belief in Christ's glorious Resurrection. When, early on Easter morning, before it was light, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran "to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple who Jesus loved," she cried breathlessly,

"They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and they went to the tomb. The two were running together, and the other disciple ran on before, faster than Peter, and came first to the tomb.

John, "the other disciple whom Jesus loved," was quick on his feet, yet not only his more agile feet but his more loving heart carried him on ahead of Peter. Tactfully John recognized the right of the superior and older apostle, Peter: "And stooping down he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not enter." Peter, very officially, immediately noted the pertinent conditions and clues surrounding the grave: "And he went into the tomb, and saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief which had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded in a place by itself."

Peter saw, and he thought. John saw, and he believed. "The other disciple ran on before, faster than Peter...." John was first on foot and first to believe. "then the other disciple also went in, who had come first to the tomb. And he saw and believed. " But John had to add, "They did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead." Peter was sadly silent. John was humbly silent.

John, the beloved disciple, was the first one at the Communion, the only one at the cross, the first one at the tomb. And most significant, he was the first one to believe. It was his great love that always placed John before the other apostles. How great the reward for a simple, persevering love!

This apparent priority John had over the other apostles is evident also from another event that occurred during this first Easter season. It was the second, so-called "forgotten," miraculous catch of fish-"forgotten," because the Synoptics did not record it. Almost everything was the same as it was at the first miraculous catch: again the Sea of Tiberias, again a group of apostles, again the long night without success. Then a stranger on the shore called out to them,

"Cast the net to the right of the boat and you will find them." They cast therefore, and now they were unable to draw it up for the great number of fishes.

Again there was a large and unexpected catch of fish. And again it was St. John who was the first to recognize the stranger as our Lord. Softly and excitedly he whispered to Peter, "'It is the Lord.'" John was the first to recognize the risen Christ because he was the first to love Him.

Here lies the important key to an understanding of the personality of John, as well as of his writings. The works of this evangelist were composed with much detail and exactness, a full and particular account of his subject. Although the Synoptics did not have a solemn, deep, and immense perspective, John did. What the earlier three writers of the Gospels many times only alluded to, hinted at, or suggested, John powerfully and brilliantly brought into the light. One could put forth many reasons for this difference: the different position from which John wrote; the different time in which he wrote; and above all, his own different, eagle-like, and noble mind that far surpassed those of his fellow-apostles. Certainly this is sufficient to explain the difference between John and the Synoptics; however, the answer to the Johannine question lies much deeper.

John was the disciple whom Jesus loved, loved more than He loved the others. Because he was the beloved apostle, he was also the knowing and wise apostle. The intellect sees only attributes, natures, conditions, and qualities; love sees essentials, substantials, fundamentals, and principles. Only he who is taken into confidence by the Author of love knows more than the others.

All the apostles were loved by Christ. Our Lord called them "'friends, because all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.'" Still John surpassed them in love, and therefore he also surpassed them in knowledge. Here lies the final explanation of the Johannine question. In that first glance from the loving eyes of Christ, when John met Jesus on the Jordan, this apostle immediatley recognized the Messias. Therefore in the very beginning of the Johannine Gospel Jesus is proclaimed as the Messias, the Son of God.

With the unquenchable thirst of love John drank in the words of Jesus, and these words remained unforgotten, unforgettable, even to the end of John's life. They flowed ceaselessly from John's mind to his heart and soul; they flowed ceaselessly from his meeting on the Jordan to his standing before the cross to the end of his days in prison. With `the great spiritual depths of his love he felt the throbbing of Jesus' heart. With the great fervor and sincerity of his love he looked and saw the piercing of Jesus' side. With the heat and blood and water of Jesus' heart flowing over him, he was given a deeper knowledge and understanding than the other apostles were given. "Cucurrit citius-John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, ran faster...."

St. John put down in words in his first Epistle that which characterizes him: " is from God. And everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. If we love Him, we know Him. We love Him in order to know Him. The more we love Him, the more we know Him. And if we know Him, ever more ardently will we love Him.

John, the Companion-Apostle

In his Gospel, St. Luke placed John in the fourth place when he enumerated the twelve apostles. Then later this same inspired author, writing down the Acts of the Apostles, moved John up to the second position, immediately after Peter. When one compares these two lists of the same writer, this advancement of John's name is a very striking sign of the increasing importance of John in the infant Church.

St. Luke reported no detailed information about John in his Acts, as he did about Peter and Paul. Peter stood in the foreground. But John quietly moved up to stand next to Peter, his companion. the faithful grew silent in respect and awe when these two great apostles moved among the crowd. These two who once had been fisherman together on the Sea of Galilee, now together let down other nets in the deep sea of mankind, nets for Christ, whom both loved. Almost always now the two companions worked together: Peter, not with his brother James or one of the other apostles. Both journeyed, preached, and suffered together.

When Albrecht Durer portrayed John and Peter together in his stately painting, he was merely using his brush to depict a biblical truth. John assisted Peter in the curing of the lame beggar at the gate of the temple: "Peter, gazing upon him with John, said, 'Look at us." And he looked at them.... John shared the first cup of persecution and suffering with Peter when they were arrested, since the priest and Sadducees were "grieved because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in the case of Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they set hands upon them and placed them in custody...

Again Peter and John were united when they answered the elders and Scribes, for:

seeing the boldness of Peter and John, ... they charged them not to speak or to teach at all on the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "When it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, decide for yourselves. For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."

And, John walked beside Peter from Jerusalem to Samaria:

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John. On their arrival they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit... Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

In this perfect union, Peter and John walked beside one another in the young Church: the apostle of stone with the apostle of love; the apostle who at first refused to permit the Lord to wash his feet with the apostle who eagerly reclined on the bosom of Jesus; the bearer of the keys with the eagle; the apostle who had denied Christ with the Son of Thunder who had desired the first place in heaven. Each of them was great in his own right: but together both were even greater. Through John, Peter could see and understand better the depths of the Lord; through Peter, John could see and understand better the trouble and anxieties of the flock. Peter atoned for the sin of his denial to John; John atoned for the sin of his pride to Peter.

Peter and John were one. What a blessing for the flock of Christ! What an honor for the Lord! How well these two heard Christ's priestly prayer to the Father for unity, the prayer he offered at the Last Supper. It was His last prayer before His passion and death:

"I in them and thou in me; that they may be perfected in unity, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou has loved them even as thou hast loved me.

Another companion of John was the apostle James, his beloved brother, who suffered martyrdom by the sword of Herod in the year 42/43. Christ foretold this bitter suffering and death as He was speaking both to James and to John. "' Of my cup you {both} shall indeed drink..'" This passage has sometimes been misinterpreted, with the results that John was also supposedly killed in the same year as his brother, during Herod's persecution. Not only is there no biblical reference to John's death at this early date, but John does appear in Holy Scripture after his brother's death. Apparently John was not in Jerusalem at the time of Herod's persecution. He was on one of his many missions. In the middle of his apostolic labors he heard of the sudden and bloody death of his brother.

James, so full of life and strength and fire, was dead! Many pictures must have come to John in retrospect: the distant house of his parents, the blue sea, or the many evenings during which he lay silent and dreamed under the stars. John thought of his mother Salome; she would be weeping for her dead son. He thought of his father Zebedee; he would be lost in thought watching the distant horizon over the water, because the ways of the Lord are not always our ways and His will is not always our will. John grew tight inside. James was dead.

Now John would work for both. He knew then what the chalice meant, how the cup tasted. When he was younger, he had asked to drink from this cup. James also had asked. He had said he could drink from the cup of the Lord, and now he had drunk. John also was to drink from this cup, but when and where and how God alone knew and willed.

Holy Scripture names still a third apostle in connection with St John: St. Paul. They met, perhaps for the first time, in Jerusalem at the Council of the Apostles in the year 49. The Acts make no special mention of John during that meeting. There Peter spoke, but John had nothing to add. On the contrary, Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, proudly mentioned the expressed recogniton and consent he had received from John also, one of the "men of authority," to preach the Gospels: "... James and Cephas and John, who were considered the pillars, gave to me and to Barnabas the righthand of fellowhip..."

John and Paul walked side by side. What perfect models for the artist! John was the disciple whom Jesus loved; Paul, the disciple to whom Jesus called, "'Why does thou persecute me?'" John was the mystic; Paul, the revolutionist. And now both stood together, side by side. Both burned with one love for Christ was a candle with two wicks. Even in their spirituality the two were surprisingly similar. Their thoughts of Christ as times soared so high that it is difficult to see with human eyes which of the two has risen higher, John or Paul.

Often one sounded like the powerful echo of the other. John rejoiced over the Dinine Word, "All things were made through him, and without him was made nothing that has been made." And Paul answered,

He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature. For in him were created all things in the heaven and on the earth , things visible and things invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers. All things have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together.

What magnificent harmony, like that of two deep bells!

Much has already been written and said about Johannine and Pauline theology, but still much more remains to be studied and learned from these two eternal fountains of wisdom. No one can deny that John and Paul were neither foes nor rivals in their theology, but rather brothers and companions of one truth. They remain today like two bells with deep and harmonious tones-though each retains his individual melody-which ring in the same eternal Sunday, Christ, for all mankind.

Finally, John's most intimate companion was Mary, the mother of the God-Man, the mother of all Christianity. John cared for Mary as only a disciple of love could care for her. Nevertheless, Mary unselfishly guided John's tender attention away from herself and toward the flock of Christ. She was a queen who wanted to be waited on and served. She considered herself only as "the maidservant of the Lord," who knew nothing greater or holier than the word of God.

According to Scripture, John was often absent from Jerusalem. When Paul came to Jerusalem the first time, he met there only two apostles, Peter and James. And when Paul made his journeys to Samaria, St. John was out of the city for many months. Nor is John mentioned at the last journey of Paul to Jerusalem.

One cannot take for granted that the beloved apostle took the aging Mary along with him on his apostolic journeys. She remained in Jerusalem and was again alone as she had been in Nazareth, before the angel appeared. Just as she sacrificed her Son when He left her to begin His public mission, so she put no obstacle, nothing even so small as a soft plea, in the way of John's apostolate.

With Mary's blessing John went into the world to win it over for her Son, Jesus Christ.

John in Ephesus

After the first Church Council in the year 49, all traces of the apostle John in Holy Scripture are lost sight of for several decades. It is on the Apocalypse that he is again brough back into the light of biblical accounts. One finds him on Patmos, a small island in the Aegean Sea, situated more than sixty miles from Ephesus: "I, John..., was on the island which is called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus."According to reliable accounts of early tradition, this young apostle had chosen Asia Minor as his missionary field after leaving Palestine. Situated in Ephesus as the spiritual head of the church there, he directed and governed the surrounding communities.

Ephesus was the most important city in Asia Minor, and perhaps even at that time the seat of the proconsul of the Roman province of Asia. Its advantageous position near the navigable Cayster River (today named Bayindir), which emptied into the Aegean Sea, and also at the junction of two Roman roads, made it a natural center for trade and commerce. It was the capital of the arts, but also of superstition and immorality, public worhsip of the goddess Diana, whose temple was numbered among the old wonders of the world.

But this same Ephesus was also chosen by God to be a center for the preaching of His divine word. Completing his second journey about the year 53, St. Paul visited this important city of the East and marked it for his main goal on his third journey. After a year he returned to Ephesus and labored until the year 57 with great success.

There was also a silversmith (Demetrius) in this same city who became wealthly by making and selling silver shrines of Diana, idols for the pagans. His business was soon on the road to ruin after Paul had begun to preach Jesus Christ and received many into Christianity. Before long, the pagans, aroused by Demetrius, rose up in protest against him, and the whole city was in turmoil. Later Paul was to leave the city, but the Christian community in Ephesus always remained in this journeying apostle's thoughts until he died in the year 67. He left his favorite follower, Timothy, with them. And he honored them with an Epistle when he was imprisoned.

The scriptural accounts of the works of Paul in Ephesus paint the scene in that world-important capital into which St. John entered. One can draw many conclusions about John from the Epistles of the apostle Paul. John had no part in the guidance of this Christian community before the martyrdom of St. Paul in 67. Had John been there in earlier years, Paul would not have made it a central point of his missionary labors, for Paul tilled only virgin lands. This active convert from Tarsus remained in Ephesus for three years, and after his departure he left Timothy to cultivate this new field of Christianity. John came to Ephesus apparently after the outbreak of the Jewish War, when, and because, it was virtually deserted after the death of Paul.

The stay of John in Ephesus has often been called into question, just as that of his friend and companion, Peter, in Rome has been doubted by some. Nor is the question of little or no consequence, for the very authenticity of the Fourth Gospel hinges and hangs on this; therefore it is of cardinal and paramount importance. The doubt was raised as early as the year 130, when Papias expressed his own doubt of John's audience. He was reported to have said that "John the theologian and his brother James were killed by the Jews."

If this opinion of Papias was correctly repeated by Philip from Sidon in the fifth century-serious considerations have also been raised against this-then the testimony of Papias in no way proves that John was not in Ephesus. Even Papias himself testified at another time that he had personally seen John, who was staying at that time, during the reign of Emperor Nerva (96-98), in Ephesus. It is impossible to reconcile this fact with the purported death of John together with his brother James in the year 42.

To this argument are added other important proofs from the second century. Justin Martyr, a Christian apologist who wrote about forty years after the death of the apostles John, stated, "With us {in Ephesus, where Justin defended the truth of Christianity against the Jew, Tryphone} was also a man with the name of John, one of the apostles of Christ, who foretold to him future revelation."

Also noteworthy, however mysterious, is the testimony of Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus around the year 190, who wrote to Pope Victor I that "John, who reclined on the bosom of the Lord and wrote a headband [the sign of the authority of a high priest], priest of the Lord, witness to the Faith, and teacher," was buried in Ephesus. Also Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons around the year 202, repeated with assurance that "John, the disciple of the Lord, who rested on the heart of Jesus, wrote a Gospel when he was in Ephesus." All this testimony is valuable since it goes back to St. Polycarp, a Church Father, who died around the year 156, and who was made bishop of Smyrna by St John himself.

Another evidence of John's presence in Ephesus is one with out words, a silent one, the ruins of a colossal church of St. John where Ephesus once stood. Although today this formerly great, proud and flourishing city lies fallen and neglected, a small and poor village has grown up in this same region. And the name of this small settlement alludes to John: Aya-Soluk-the town of the holy theologian.

John, the Presbyter

Still a second question remains to be clarifeid: whether another John, the "presbyter John," worked at the same time in Ephesus with the apostle John, or whether they were the same person.

This supposition again depends on the word of Papias. He explained, as he was wont to do, the statements of the "presbyter," a general term meaning "elder" or "ancient." And at times he seemingly referred to the apostle John:

If one approached, at any place whatever, who had been in contact with the presbyters, I carefully questioned him about the statements of the presbyters, what Andrew, what Peter, what Philip, what Thomas, what James, what John, what Matthew, or one of the other of the disciples of the Lord had said, and what Ariston and the Presbyter John, the disciple of the Lord, say.

Twice in this text a John is named. The first time the verb is in the past tense-"had said"-and the second time it is in the present tense-"say." Both could possibly refer to the apostle John, the one time as an apostle who had passed to the next life, the other time as a very much alive witness of the truth: the one time "the presbyter," the other time "the disciple of the Lord."

No commentator on Scripture of the first two centuries knew of a presbyter John other than the apostle. Bishop Polycrates, who enumerated the ranking men of the Church of Asia Minor in his letter to Pope Victor I, about the year 190, named this important John.

The first commentator to distinguish between two Johns was Dionysius, Patriarch of Alexandria around the year 250. After him the Church historian of the fourth century, Eusebius, who is not always reliable, named two different Johns, the apostle and the presbyter, the elder. But Eusebius was certainly prejudiced and led astray by his personal dislike of, and aversion for, the Apocalypse. From this Zahn concluded,

The existence of two different Johns, the apostle and the presbyter, neither Eusebius nor one of his followers was ever able to prove; moreover the contemporary existence of two disciples by the name of John in Asia, an assertion of Papias, is excluded, as are all other traditions about this. The presbyter John is really a miscarriage of the need of criticism and the defective exegesis of Eusebius.

The designation "presbyter," the old one, literally "the elder," for the apostle John was significant. He introduced himself in his second and third Epistles as presbyter: "The Presbyter to the Elect Lady and to her children whom I love in truth...The Presbyter to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

It is noteworthy that John was portrayed as the oldest of the apostles only in Oriental art, which took root in the traditions of the early Church. In contrast, the art of the West looked directly to the Gospel before representing him as the youngest of the apostle. John had once been the youngest, but now he was the oldest. His brother James was dead; Andrew, with whom he lived the "tenth hour," was dead; Peter, his friend and companion, was dead. All had gone to their reward with the Lord. And only John remained behind, as though forgotten or neglected by death. But then, writing the last words in his Apocalypse, John finally cried out, "Come, Lord Jesus!" The Lord had promised him to come quickly. For a little while longer John had to wait patiently.

As the oldest apostle, John was the Patriarch of the Church of Asia Minor, the father of bishops, the guardian of truth, the inspired writer of the last revelation. The beginning of the Apocalypse reveals the singular greatness of the presbyter John: "'What thou seest write in a book, and send to the seven churches, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergammum, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.'" Like the highest mountaintop outlined against a red sunset-glow and fading into the night, when all the lower hill-lands had already disappeared, John, and only John, could beam a brilliant ray of light and love from the apostolic times into the dawn of the approaching century.

John, the Prophet

On the shore of the island Patmos sat John, aged and alone. His tired eyes looked into the distance, and the powerful sea ceaselessly threw its white-capped waves before him. The Roman emperor Domitian, who ruled from the year 81 to 96, had exiled the last living apostle to this small island, which probably was a refuge for pirates also. At the end of the eleventh century a cloister was built on the steep, southern cliffs of the island in honor of the prophet John, who, on the threshold of the second century, his very threshold of time and eternity, shouted our what should soon happen. Even today one can see the slope of the hollow where John wrote his Apocalypse.

It will always remain a mystery why God, seemingly indifferent, relinquished His care and authority over His knight-the knight He so loved that He permitted him to rest on His bosom-to a tyrannous emperor. Suetonius, in his biography of rulers, sketched the character of Domitian with the comment:

He emerged [at the beginning of his reign] as a mixture of vice and virtue, until finally his virtues turned into vices. One might venture the supposition that, contrary to his innate nature, he was rapacious by force of necessity and blood-thirsty by force of fear. His cruelty was not only dreadfully great but also malicious and treacherous. There was not a more certain sign of a gruesome end than the mildness of the beginning of one of his speeches.

Suetonius pointed out the reason why the Christians, who were tolerated at first, fell into the arena of this imperial tiger: the taxation of the Jews and Christians was maintained at such a remarkably high level that many of them concealed their identity to avoid paying the tax. But there were also many informers. And this situation eventually gave occasion for the second persecution in the last years of the reign of the emperor, who also sacrificed the aging John.

Domitian was so crazed by power that he demanded he be called "lord and god." He was so diabolical that daily he would sit for an hour amusing himself by piercing the heads of little birds with a sharply pointed pick. He tore the evangelist of the divine word away from his beloved community of the faithful in Ephesus and permanently banished him to the isolated Patmos. Ours is the dilemma, whether to say: "What a catastrophe!" or "What a blessing!" At once to pity and to rejoice! "I... was on the island which is called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus," John began to write his revelations.

Tertullian, one of the early writers of Church history who died after the year 220, made the first report that John, before he was exiled, was thrown into boiling oil, but nevertheless suffered no harm. The Roman Church makes a commemoration of this martyrdom on the sixth of May. Greek sources reveal nothing about this. And more than one of the opinions of Tertullian are questionable.

St. John wrote the Apocalypse in complete loneliness on Patmos, from his own experience of persecution suffered for the sake of Christ-"I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation[s]... that are in Jesus...." These revelations are the prophetic words of consolation in the New Testament. St. John dedicated this book above all to the Church of his time, which certainly was as much in need of his comfort and strengthening as of his exhortations and reminders, his admonitions and warnings.

The young Church at the end of the first century stood in the midst of many storms. The persecutions of the Roman emperors, the hostilities of the pagans, and the hatred of the Jews raged against the first Christians. And, what was more dangerous, false teachers and vice were added to the fury. Above all their own disillusions and disappointments, the second coming of the Lord paralyzed them. How great the weariness and melancholy of the good grew has been made clear as the inspired author of Holy Scripture lamented,

I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God, and for the witness that they bore. And they cried out a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord (holy and true), dost thou refrain from judging and from avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?

St. John consoled the disheartened brethren of his time-and indeed the Christians of all ages. He lift the veil over the future and let the triumph of Christ over the powerful kingdom of the Romans be seen. The Apocalypse, therefore, is full of pictures and allusions to the Roman Empire of the first century. Contemporaries of that age must have immediately thought of the seven hills of Rome when the last living author of Scripture wrote,

And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon its horn ten diadems, and upon its heads blasphemous names....And the dragon gave it his own might and great authority... And all the earth followed the beast in wonder. And they worshipped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast...

Later the author revealed, "the seven heads are seven mountains..." The beast is a figure of worldly kingdom founded on sin and vice, persecuting Christ, oppressing His followers- pagan Rome. It was the idolatrous worship of the Roman emperors, the state religion, that had settle on the heights of Rome.

In the same way it was not difficult for the Christians to understand whom John meant by the other

beast coming up out of the earth, and it had two horns like to those of a lamb, but it spoke as does a dragon. And it exercised all the authority of the former beast in its sight; and it made the earth and the inhabitants therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

The cryptic designation of Rome and Babylon, "'the great harlot who sits upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have commiteed fornication,'" was familiar to the first Christians. Earlier Peter had called Rome "Babylon" in his first Epistle.

The prophet John, seeing through the eyes of God, had discerned the panorama of all Christian history. In the trials and tribulations of those seven Christian communities of Asia Minor the destiny of all Christian ages was made manifest to him. The struggle which the Roman Empire had waged against the infant dragon and his other beasts direct against the one Church of Christ for "the thousand years" which lie between the first and second coming of the Messias. "And the dragon was angered at the woman, and went away to wage war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God, and hold fast the testimony of Jesus."

It will always be difficult to deduce what is meant in the Apocalypse by the "thousand years." There is no question of a mistranslation of the singular for the plural-"thousand" for "thousands"-as the singular is clearly recognizable in more than one passage. One must be satisfied with the great perspective that John already opened: the devil will always watch for his beasts-one can correctly identify them as godless politics and godless science-will for all ages be at the service of the dragon.


the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the witness to Jesus and because of the word of God, and who did not worship the beast or his image, and did not accept his mark upon their foreheads or upon their hands... will be priests of God and Christ, and will reign with him a thousand years.

Therefore the Revelations of St. John are a great illustration and elucidation of the words of Jesus in the Gospel to Peter: "'The gates of hell shall not prevail against.'" With this consolation the last of the apostles sent Christianity onto the wearisome way through the centuries, wandering until the second coming of Christ.

When St. John, in his closing chapters, finally came to speak of the Last Day, his words are plainer still, and even more frightful:

And when the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go forth and deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth...And they went up over the breadth of the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. And fire from God came down out of heavens and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they will be tormented day and might forever and ever.

One dare not infer too much from these mysterious revelations of St. John, and yet also not too little. The naive views reflected in the title-Apocalypse, Revelation, Manifestations-refer to definite times, above all, to the age of its composition. Yet, a specific explanation or application will always seem imaginative. In this book of secrets and mysteries a concrete understanding of single events or periods in the history of the Church and exact preferences-666-are not always to be found. On the other hand, if one were to be unfair with this prophetic book, the only one in the New Testament, he would want to see revealed in it nothing else except the general struggle waged between Christ and Satan.

The inspired writer could not have been satisfied to give only descriptions and past facts. He also felt compelled to write down what God revealed to him, not only for the oppressed Christian communities of his own time, but also at the same time for the threatened ages of the future. In that passage, which reminds one of Daniel and Ezechiel, the great prophets of the Old Testament, St John wrote down with ever new and fresh imagery what he saw before his eyes, the past and the present and the future. It was God who commanded him, " 'Write therefore the things that thou has seen, and the things that are, and the things that are to come hereafter.'"

The beloved apostle's prophecies are not a book filled only with consolations and compensations for the tragic in life here on earth. On the contrary, no book on earth enumerates so unsparingly the terrors and fear which will befall mankind. Seven seals of horror will be opened over them. Seven trumpets of terror will be sounded over them.

I heard the voice of a single eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth!" because of the rest of the trumpet-voices of the three angels who were about to sound the trumpet.

The seven signs of wrath will be poured out over them. Most terrifying is: "'Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you in great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.'"

It is no sweet idyl, no dream from out of this world, that John revealed in the Apocalypse, but a compendium of the frightful reality of world history, that will never be without chaos. The real struggle of the Christian is the choice between a life in the world and a life of the world.

"Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar and those who worship therein. But the court outside the temple, reject it, and do not measure it."

Still this book of revelations resounds with unfliching optimism. For above all the woe and melancholy of the earth John saw the throne of God in all its majesty. Stammering, weighing the words of the prophets of old, the prophet John, alone on abandoned Patmos, spoke of Him whom no eye has seen, no ear has heard:

Immediately I was in the spirit; and behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne One was sitting. And he who sat was in appearance like to a jasper-stone and a sardius, and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in appearance like to an emerald.

And round about the throne are twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads crowns of gold. And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder; and there are seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And before the throne there is, as it were, a sea of glass like to crystal, and in the midst of the throne, and round the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes before and behind... And they do not rest day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God almighty, Who was, and who is, and who is coming."

The rays of the vision which John gazed upon appeared from "a door standing open in heaven," illuminating the terrors of the world. God, the Creator and Ruler of the world, is enthroned in His majesty, abiding in spite of all, over all.

God does not remain in His own happiness, far removed from earth, unconcerned with the dignity of man. He is not only over all that comes to pass, but also in all. He has entrusted to the "Lamb" the seven unbroken seals, the seven trumpets, the seven signs of wrath.

And I saw, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of him who sat upon the throne. And when he had opened the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

And they sing a new canticle, saying, "Worthy are thou to take the scroll and to open its seals. For thou wast slain, and has redeemed us for God with thy blood..."

The depiction of Christ in the Apocalypse is the most sublime in the entire New Testament. It even eclipses John's own Gospel. In this fact lies an internal proof for the authenticity of that Gospel. In the Fourth Gospel, John lays down the profound manifestation of Jesus but neither mysteriously nor secretively. In the Revelations of St. John, the inspired author sees Christ as He is in the next world. He sees through the eyes of God, without physical barriers:

I saw seven golden lamp-stands; and in the midst of the seven lamp-stands One like to a son of man, clothed with a garment reaching to the ankles, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. But his head and his hair were white as white wool, and as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire; his feet were like fine brass, as in a glowing furnace, and voice like the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars. And out of his mouth came forth a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was like the sun shining in its power.

Thus Jesus will overcome the devil. The Lamb will defeat the dragon. The Alleluias from heaven in the Apocalypse drown out all the terror and horror of history. Already the great Babylon, the Rome of Nero and Domitian, has fallen. And Satan is waging a losing battle through "the thousand years" of Christian history; he has hindered, stopped, fettered. And when he springs for his last and most dreadful attack, once again he will be overthrown, then for all eternity.

And the devil who deceived them was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

And then before the eyes of the prophet John, caught in ecstasy over his vision, "the new heaven and the new earth" appeared. Suddenly the reader cannot help but yearn for this other world for which he waits. No one has written more nobly of heaven than John in the last two chapters of his inspired revelations:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne say,
"Behold the dwelling of God with men,
and he will dwell with them.
And they will be his people,
And God himself will be with them as their God.
And God will wipe away every tear
from their eyes.
And death shall be no more;
neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying,
nor pain any more,
For the former things have passed away."
And he who was sitting on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new!"

The comfort of this last book of the New Testament is that it has been given to Christianity as a viaticum for the "thousand years" before the second coming of Christ. In spite of crime and persecution and temptation, God is over all, and what is more, in all. The dragon and beast, whom God only tolerates, cannot go beyond the borders which Divine Providence has set up for them; they are harnessed in the yoke on their plain, their battlefield. And even though both good and bad, seemingly indiscriminately are permitted to stand side by side in this world, nevertheless Divine Providence has marked the faithful in a special way: "'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.'"

There may be an inclination to think that the truly apocalyptic ages is the end of the thousand years, when "Satan will be released from his prison, and will go forth and deceived the nations which are in the four corners of the earth..." We do not know. But we would do well to save ourselves from the evils in the world, which surround us, by standing on the firm ground of this consoling book of the prophet-apostle. It was written for us, for all ages, as well as for the oppressed Christian communities of Asia Minor near the end of the first century:

"Do not seal up [do not hold secret] the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time [fulfillment] is at hand. He who does wrong, let him do wrong still; and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he who is just, let him be just still; and he who is holy, let him be hallowed still. Behold, I come quickly! And my reward is with me, to render to each one according to his works."

John, the Evangelist

All exiles at some time come to an end. Every sea has at one time carried a lost wandered to his home. Under Emperor Nerva, who revoked the diabolical edicts and decrees of his murdered predecessor, Domitian, John also was permitted to leave the lonely island of Patmos land and return to his flock in Ephesus. How gladly he would have gone to his home with the Lord! "Come, Lord Jesus! Still, his greatest work remained to be accomplished, the work which was soon to flash as a leaping fire in the night on the peak of the first century and enlighten all Christian ages. It was the Gospel, the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St. John the apostle.

It was a different John the faithful of Ephesus saw coming back. He was gray and old; his hands trembled a bit. According to legend, despite the fact that John wrote down his entire Gospel by himself, he was able to preach scarcely more than one and the same sentence, "Children, love one another!" His one and the same sentence, "Children, love one another!" His second and third Epistles, both very short, show how heavy and cumbersome the pen had become for this old man. Both times the author concluded. "I had much to write to thee; but I do not want to write to thee with pen and ink. But I hope to see thee shortly, and we will speak face to face."

A very old document, the Muratorian Fragment, dated from the end of the second century, explicity confirmed that John had written his Gospel at the urgent pleadings of the disciples and bishops. This same has been certified by other ancient Christian writers: Irenaeus, who died in the year 202; Clement of Alexandria, 214; Tertullian, 240; Origen, 254. And Jerome, who died in 420, wrote,

John, the apostle whom Jesus loved the most, the son of Zebedee, the brother of the apostle James whom Herod beheaded after the death of the Lord, has written a Gospel as the last of all requested by the bishops of Asia.

How fortunate it is for us that these first followers of Christ begged John for his Gospel!

The Synoptics, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, had already written three Gospels, three rays of the light of Christ. John recognized the truth of these writings. An old Oriental tradition, as told by Isodad of Merv, recounts that

because the brethen believed that the testimony of John was as credible as that of any other man, since he had walked with the Lord from the very beginning, they brought to him the three other books of the evangelist in order to learn from him what his opinion of these writings was. He praised the truth of these writings highly, and said that they had been written by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

But this same John also knew better than the others how much there was still to say about Him whom all the books of the world could not comprehend. "There are, however, many other things that Jesus did; but if every one of these should be written not even the world itself, I think, could hold the books that would have to be written."

The fullness of Christ is too powerful ever to be exhausted. Whatever will be said or written about Him-"Quantum potes, tantum aude, quia major omni laude, nec laudare sufficis!"-will always remain a poor shell dipped into an endless sea. Even John presented a mere glimpse of Christ, but the most brilliant, the most sparkling of all. To the words already spoken of Christ he might resound in the beginning silence as the ringing of bells echoes on the dark eve of a festivity. John, the tired and aging evangelist, raised himself up, forgot his weakness and old age, and plunged directly into the vastest sea he had ever set out upon: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God."

The legendary "Acts of John" dramatically picture the circumstances in which the beloved evangelist wrote his Gospel. Lightning flashed. Thunder rolled. The mountains trembled.

The disciple Prochoros fell half dead to the ground. John took hold of him with his hand, raised him up, and told him to sit down on his right. Then he prayer, opened his mouth, and gazing up to heaven, said, "In the beginning was the Word..." John stood to dictate; Prochoros sat to write. And so they labored for two days and six hours.

In the Epilogue of the evangelist's Gospel the inspired author gave the purpose of his writing with the words: "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing may have life in his name." Certainly with these last words the evangelist also wanted to attack the false teachers whose influence on the Christians was increasing steadily. His attack was waged primarily against the followers of Cerinthus, who preached Christ not as the God-Man, but as an angel-man. And he attacked the adherents of Gnosticism, who believed they alone had a special knowledge of the created world. There were even some of John the Baptist's disciples who were condemned by the evangelist for esteeming this forerunner of Christ more highly than Christ Himself-there was a large group of them in Ephesus.

The apostle, him a disciple of the Baptist on the Jordan-the one who was "not the Christ," nor "Elias," nor "the Prophet"-firmly but humbly directed the witness of Christ's forerunner against those blind disciples:

John [the Baptist] answered and said, "No one can receive anything unless it is given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said, 'I am not the Christ but have been sent before Him.'... He must increase, but I must decrease."

Nevertheless, it was not a vindication of the truth but an exposition of the truth that was the aim and concern of John the evangelist. The fiery Boanerges had also learned in his long life that the best refutation of erroneous ideas is the simple and lucid truth.

When one enters into the holy sanctuary of the Johannine Gospel, the same sense of awe comes over him that he perceives when he enters a colossal cathedral where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, the candles are burning, and the Tantum ergo rings out. "Tantun ergo sacramentum-Let us bow down and adore such a great sacrament. " "Genitori Genitoque-To the Begetter and to the Begotten be praise and jublilation." "Genitori Genitoque" is the theme woven throughout John's Gospel: He who was in the Father from the beginning, consubstantial Son of God, "the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, " sent into the world by the Father, not "in order to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

The profound Christians mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Redemption are found throughout the Fourth Gospel. The Prologue, the magnificent opening of the Gospel, gives a glimpse of what is to be seen in the holy sanctuary; the Word was in the beginning, that was with God, that was God Himself, was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory-glory as of the only-begotten of the Father; and of His fullness we have all received, grace for grace. What the three Synoptics reserved for the end of their Gospels, after testifying to Christ's many miracles, His Resurrection, and His Ascension, John placed on the very first page.

The Gospel according to St. John is distinguished from those of the Synoptics first in its presentation of the external events in the life of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke related the works of Jesus before the common people down in Galilee, the sermons of the kingdom of God. But John showed Jesus in another place, up in the capital city, Jerusalem, face to face with the leaders of the people, face to face with his enemies.

Upon examing the Gospel, one finds three main parts. The first part, chapters 1 to 4, dwells on the beginnings of the manifestation of Jesus: the witness of John the Baptist and the first disciples, the miracles at the marriage feast at Cana, the cleansing of the temple, the discourses with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, and the curing of the royal official's son. The second part, chapters 5 to 12, includes the development and increasing depth of Jesus' self-revelation through miracles and discourses: the cure at the pool of Bethsaida, the feeding of five thousand, the walking on the water, the healing of the man born blind, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, Jesus' discourse concerning His consubstantiality with the Father (a statement of His claim to divinity), the discourse on the Eucharist, and Christ's attendance at the Feast of Tabernacles and at the Feast of the Dedication. The third part, chapter 13 to 20, illustrates the perfection of the Teacher, Jesus' love: the washing of the feet, Jesus' farewell talk to His disciples, His priestly prayer for unity, and His suffering, death, and resurrection.

With the exception of the passion and death of Jesus, only four particular accounts are common to John's Gospel and those of the Synoptics. These are: the multiplication of the loaves, the walking on the sea, the anointing in Bethany, and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The evangelist John related much concerning the five journeys of Jesus to Jerusalem. The seven miracles performed on the way stand as mountains rising up on the horizon of the sea.

No less noticeable than these external differences are the internal idiosyncrasies of the Johannine Gospel as compared with the Synoptics. Through the first three Gospels Jesus walked as a simple and benevolent preacher of the people, full of sympathy for their needs, pity for their distress, patience for their slowness. Little by little He led them to the heights of faith and hope and charity. But the Jesus in John's Gospel, on the contrary, was the majestic Son of God, eternal, divine, one with the Father. He was portrayed as serious, rigid, and stern, like the Byzantine picture of Christ, which was truly inspired by John's sublime presentation of Christ-the "Pantokrator," the omnipotent Lord and Ruler over all mankind.

But is it not as though John had suppressed or kept secret the humanity of Jesus in his Gospel. Rather, the human nature and qualities of Christ were expounded to refute the Gnostics, who held that Christ's humanity was only an appearance, an illusion. The God-Man sat down, weary and exhausted, at the well of Jacob; He wept at the tomb of Lazarus; He was comforted by the love of John; He quivered and shook at the thought of death. Still, in John's Gospel the power of Jesus' divinity shone through his humanity as sunlight through a thin cloud. John also related the discourses of his Master more solemnly than the Synoptics related them. "'Amen, Amen, I say to you...'" Comparing Matthew's style in the sermon on the Mount and John's in the discourse at the Feast of Tabernacles, one quickly notices this difference, the difference between a rippling brook and a rushing torrent.

Skeptics seize upon this singularity of the Johannine Gospel as a welcome and hard-sought excuse to reject the Fourth Gospel as not genuine. The contentions centered around the question of reliability are soon enough shifted, even more illogically and fallaciously, to the very divinity of Christ. But even in the early centuries of Christendom the Church Fathers recognized this difference between the Fourth Gospel and the first three, and were certainly not disconcerted. They did call the Gospel written down by the apostle of love, "pneumatic," spiritual, in contrast to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which they called "somatic," physical. They praised it as "the blossom and seal of the Gospels," as "a pillar of the Church."

But perhaps the most beautiful praise of all for John's Gospel was written by Origen:

We would venture to call the Gospels the first fruits of the entire Holy Scripture, and the Gospel of St John the first fruit of all the Gospels. Only he could have grasped such thought who rest on the bosom of Jesus, who was so close to Jesus and Mary.

The difference between the Gospels of John and the Synoptic Gospels-a difference, not an opposition-reveals a reality not an insoluble puzzle.

But what is unsolvable for the incredulous is the question of how a Gospel could be so well-known and popular in the Church as early as the first half of the second century-a Gospel that digressed so far from the earlier Gospels. As John sat down to write out his own account of the life of Christ, certainly he, the tired old man, did not want merely to repeat what had been said three times before. Rather, keeping the three Gospel before him, he fully intended to expand only on those pages of the life of Christ which were cut so short, the works of Jesus in Jerusalem. Therefore there was no other way but that his portrayal of Christ, even the framework, should have a different external appearance.

This different external frame-the spared city, the circle of responsible leaders, the ranks of the educated-immediately explains the different style of the delivery of Jesus' discourses. Down in Galilee with the common workers and uneducated people, Jesus could be the kind Saviour that He was. He could be full of love and sympathy when working miracles, full of parables and poetry when preaching, seeking to enter into hearts of the crowd. Up in Jerusalem with the authoritative circles and the educated theologians Jesus could be the divine Messias that He was, revealing from the beginning His divine nature, proclaiming His divine mission, preaching, answering, attacking.

There is yet another explanation for John's unique Gospel. Our Lord could not fully demonstrate to the older evangelists the deep meaning of Christianity still in its infancy. Therefore they related and explained the historical facts and deeds of the life of Christ without dwelling upon its deep, theological significance. St. Paul, looking back on the Christian community at Corinth in its infancy, which then was undeveloped and immature, could write,

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men but only as carnal, as to little ones in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Nor are you now ready for it, for you are still carnal.

St. John, writing his Gospel at the end of the first century, found himself in a different, more fortunate situation. Christianity was rapidly maturing, and was prepared for the fullness of Christ. It was not as if John had revealed truths completely unknown to the Synoptics. The Fourth Gospel coincides with the fundamental truths which the older evangelists had proclaimed earlier. John added no substantially new truths.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke also wrote about the person of Christ-which passages rightly have been referred to as "Johannine." Matthew recorded Jesus' words:

"All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

The Synoptics also knew of the works of Jesus in Jerusalem. Matthew and Luke recorded Christ's vehement lamentation over that captial city:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou who killest the prophets, and stonest those who are sent to thee! How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but thou wouldst not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate."

The Synoptics did not contradict John, and John did not oppose the Synoptics; he completed and perfected their Gospels with his own Gospel. What Matthew and Mark and Luke recorded about Christ also rings out in John's Gospel, but with deeper tones, a more profound perspective.

One might even say that John himself, in the course of so many decades, entered more and more deeply into Christ. The Christian never comes to a complete understanding of Jesus Christ. When in Him, he is always on the way to Him. He can arrive at Christ, but not fully grasp Him. In the Fourth Gospel John's own religious experience of the Gospels vibrates with the life of Christ. The works and words of the Lord became the spiritual property of the disciple of love. John pondered over these works and words and, enriched with the meditations of his soul and the love of his heart, he passed them on to all Christianity. He, the bosom friend of the Lord, made the words, and the very thoughts of the Lord his own. With the freedom that a close friendship gives, he passed these on to all posterity in his Gospel. Where could the thoughts and words of our Lord have been more faithfully preserved than in the heart of His friend, John?

Very significant is the manner in which the author of the Fourth Gospel began his first Epistles. As the Gospel, so the Epistles was opened with a proclamation of the truth of the Word:

I write of what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have handled: of the Word of Life. And the Life was made known and we have seen, and now testify and announce to you, the Life Eternal which was with the Father, and has appeared to us. What we have seen and have heard we announce to you, in order that you also may have fellowship with us, and that our fellowship may be with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Indeed, even a mere glance at the Fourth Gospel would convince the unbiased reader of the honesty of the evangelist. He must notice how John's knowledge of the small, seemingly insignificant circumstances in the life of Christ was recorded so precisely. And if this is not enough, the reader should turn back and reread the account of the calling of the first disciples, the account of the healing of the man born blind, the account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

It is still more striking that in the entire Fourth Gospel the names of the evangelist John and his brother James, and even their own parents' names, are never mentioned once. In contrast to this, the older evangelists often explicitly made these names very prominent, especially the names of John and James. When St. John recorded something that concerned himself, he did it anonymously: "One of the other disciples" or "one of his disciples, he whom Jesus loved." This mute manner of writing about one of the most important apostles is understandable only if the evangelist was writing about himself, the apostle John. John was modest and unassuming. Bringing his Gospel to a close, the missionary of Ephesus wrote, "This is the disciple who bears witness concerning these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his witness is true." We, the faithful, after twenty centuries, know and believe it with him.

Whenever the Gospel is read in a Church, the faithful stand to show their honor and respect for the word of God. The priest kisses the book like a costly jewel. But at the end of almost every Mass, a passage from John's Gospel is read-"And the Word was made flesh..."-and all bend the knee, an even deeper sign of honor and respect.

Thank Divine Providence for presenting to mankind, through John, His last and most magnificent revelation. Thank Divine Providence that we can quench our thirst for God with the holy water that gushes down from the mountain top, covered with everlasting snow, melted by the Son of God through the warmth of John's love.

When the spiritual life of a good and pious soul is impoverished and grows weak and falls, the reason is that it has been drawing only from shallow and dangerious springs. John considered the Christianity of the end of the first century mature enough for the fullness of Christ. We also want to be ready for the great gift of revelation which John presented to us with the shaking hand of an old man, to be ready to receive the fullness of Christ, grace for grace.

John, the Pastor

Origen, a Church Father, expressed the beautiful thought: "John once wrote about the trumpet, in order later to sing through the Epistles."

St. John wrote three Epistles. The first-more a sermon or a meditation than an Epistle-was addressed to the Church in Asia Minor. It has been recognized since early times as being very similar to the Fourth Gospel. The second bears the address "to the Elect Lady and to her children," whereby John was speaking to, and honoring, a particular church no longer close to him. The recipient of the third was "the beloved Gaius," a very influential and worthy member probably of that community to which the second Epistle was sent.

The Epistles of St. John the apostle can well be considered the most stirring of all his writings-stirring, indeed, because in them the weariness of the aging apostle finally began to show. His hand could no longer force the pen forward. After only thirteen and fifteen sentences in his second and third Epistles respectively he had to stop writing and close. Nor did any new thoughts flash into his mind. The volcano from which the flood of the Apocalypse had erupted, and the heart from which the stream of the Gospel flowed, were growing dry, beginning to die.

These thoughs of the Gospel are repeated in the Epistles: light and darkness, truth and falsehood, love and hate, life and death. In the three Epistles John took over from his Gospel the same turns of expression, even whole sentences. He also forgot and repeated himself. John, the eagle! How could even an old man forget himself and repeat small, but essential, thoughts on the same page:

I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins are forgiven you for his names's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one. I am writing to you, little ones, because you know the Father. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

Despite this human frailty John set himself out to write his Epistles. His love and concern for the children permitted him no rest. The corruption and enticement of worldly pleasures menaced them; there were quarrels and false teachers among their own ranks. As a pastor already standing under the morning glimmer of eternity, John did not abandon his flock. As a patriarch he gave them his last bequest: believe in the Lord and He will love you and you will love Him and also your brothers.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. And everyone who loves him who begot, loves also the one begotten of him. In this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments...If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar. For how can he who does not love his brother, whom he sees, love God, whom he does not see? And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.

A more impressive picture of John the pastor could not be painted than the one seen in his own three Epistles. The prophet of Patmos, who had a gigantic, panoramic view of all history, did not immediately forget to care for his flock which was struggling against the "lust of the flesh", and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of Life." The evangelist, who was so enraptured by the triumph of the Eternal Word, confessed, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Clement of Alexandria, who died in the year 214, added a further account of John's joy in his care for the flock that surrounded him, and Eusebius took this up into his Church history:

When John, after the death of the tyrant, returned from the island of Patmos to Ephesus, he visited, by request, the neighboring regions to appoint bishops or to organize a whole community or to choose clerics from among men set apart by the Holy Spirit. There he also glanced upon a young man with a beautiful and strong body, and a pleasant speech, and an ardent spirit. And directing his eyes to the bishop there, John said, "This young man I commend to you from the bottom of my heart and I ask the community and Christ to witness my call." The bishop took the recommended youth into his house, educated him, sheltered him, cared for him, and finally baptized him. But then he grew cold and indifferent to his vigilance.

The young man, enjoying freedom too early, fell into the corrupting company of a loose companion, into the habitually evil ways of one his own age. Lovable though he was, he turned off the right way for a wild, fiery steed. With the help of his companion, he formed a band of robbers of which he made himself, the leader, violent, brutal, blood-thirsty.

After a time John was called again to the city. Then he said to the bishop, "I demand the young man back." the bishop answered, "He is dead to God!" The apostle tore off his garment, struck himself on the head, and rode away from the church, as he was, in the direction of the robber. He did not run, or approach to speak with care, but called out, "Take me to your leader!" As he recognized John upon arrival, he shyly turned to flee. But John, forgetting his old age, quickly ran after him and cried out, "Why do you run away from me, your father, a defenseless old man? Have pity on me, son! And if it becomes necessary, I will gladly go to my death for you, as the Lord has gone to his death for us.

When the robber heard this, he remained standing next to him with downcast eyes. Then he threw his weapons away and, trembling shed bitter tears. He embraced the old man. And the apostle fell to his knees before the young man and kissed his right hand to show that by repentance all was made clean. Then he led the young man back to the church.

Who was the greatest: John the prophet, John the evangelist, or John the pastor?

John, the Saint

John died during the reign of Trajan. It was probably in the year 98 or 99, almost seventy years after the Resurrection of Christ. He was almost a hundred years old when he died. Like the first father of mankind, John, the patriarch of Christianity, was blessed with a long life. He had developed and strengthened himself in and through his young Christian life.

John's unusually advanced age made his contemporaries think that he never would die. Did not Jesus Himself once say that this must be true? When our Lord predicted to Peter his sudden and painful death, Peter immediately turned around and looked at John and, full of fright and jealousy, asked, "'Lord, and what of this man?'" Jesus gave Peter a certain and definite answer: "'If I wish him to remain until I come, what is it to thee?'" Not everyone understood these words of the Lord. Rumors were spread: John as immortal. In the last year of his life, this apostle added a final postscript to his Gospel to clarify the rumor that had taken root in these mysterious words that the risen Savior had spoken.

This saying therefore went abroad among the brethen, that that disciple was not to die. But Jesus had not said to him, "He is not to die"; but rather, "If I wish him to remain until I come, what is it to thee?"

John did not attempt a long explanation, but simply repeated the words as his Master had spoken them. Jesus had not said that this disciple would not die, but only that, if he were not to die, nobody, not even Peter-who only minutes before had been given his great primacy in the Church of Christ-would have anything to do with it. Reading these last words of John, once again one feels the mystery of John's love for Christ.

According to legend, John lay down in his grave as he felt death coming near. A painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a German artist, beautifully portrays this self-burial of John: the tired apostle is slowly climbing the stairs to worship God for the last time on earth before a praying congregation, and he is going by himself to meet death. "Come, Lord Jesus!" Above, a child is lighting the last candle on the altar.

The apostolic age was over. The last snow on the mountain-top had melted, and the peak stood rock bare. But was it gone forever? The great Augustine, who died in the year 430, wrote that trustworthy men had come to him and swore that they say the grave of John rising and sinking as if breathing. How beautifully symbolic! The breathing of John, the disciple of love, lasts through all Christian ages! John is to remain with us until the Lord comes again.

The burial of John in Ephesus was testified to by Polycrates, a bishop, around the year 190. The grave of the apostle was famous. Apparently, when Constantine wanted to construct a new church over the place of burial, it was opened. There was found only dust, "manna" and therefore the legend arose that John was taken up into heaven bodily.

The Church celebrates the feast of St. John on December 27, the season of the birth of Christ. It is, as it were, a way of thanking the evangelist for composing the words we pray at the Christmas Mass: "In the beginning was the Word... and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." In the early Church all three of the great apostles, Peter, James, John, were honored by a celebration of their feast on this day. They were the first-born of Him whose fullness they had received before all the others. Literally John means "God is merciful." By the fifth century this noble name was as common as it is today-often sadly mutilated to an unrecognizable form-and most likely it was the most widely used and best-known name.

A painting by Ruebens portrays John with a chalice. According to tradition a high priest from Ephesus should have given John a chalice filled with poison to determine whether the apostle was truthful and holy. As John blessed it, the legend continues, a snake crawled out. But in Rubens' picture the snake is gone and only the holy chalice is depicted.

John and the chalice! Once-how far in the past was that golden time of John's first love!-the Lord asked his beloved disciple, "'Can you drink of the cup of which I am about to drink?'" And at the Last Supper he sat next to the Holy Grail as the words of transubstantation filled the upper room: "'This cup is the new covenant in my blood..'" And only a few hours later in the garden beyond the torrent of Cedron he heard his Master implore, "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me...'" And on Calvary, John formed a chalice with his own hands to catch the holy blood of the God-Man that was shed from the cross.

John had drunk of the cup. His life was filled with labors for Christ. He suffered and loved to the end. The chalice is the symbol of his close friendship with the Lord.

On St. John's Day the Church presents the faithful with a chalice of golden wine: "Drink the love of St. John."

St. John, intercede for us that we, like you, may thirst for His chalice, and drink, and be filled with the love of Jesus Christ!

3 posted on 10/21/2010 6:53:51 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
Apostle Ping!

This is a Catholic Caucus thread.

Guidelines for Catholic Caucus Threads

4 posted on 10/21/2010 7:04:44 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Peter [Catholic Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Andrew [Catholic Caucus]
The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. John [Catholic Caucus]

5 posted on 10/21/2010 7:09:13 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
If you really want to know these men, these Talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua, then you must begin by studying Torah. It will teach you what, how, and when they and their Rebbe ate, walked, talked, and communed with their Creator and one another. You will notice the vast distance: how far from that life religion has wandered these two millenia. The answer lies in the Return to Torah, the eternal standard for the people, the land and the King of Israel.
6 posted on 10/21/2010 7:24:12 PM PDT by Torahman (Remember the Maccabees!)
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To: Torahman

What makes you think that I haven’t studied the Pentateuch?

I am currently teaching a Bible Study class on the Book of Genesis.

7 posted on 10/21/2010 7:30:29 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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