by Joel V. Ocampo
On December 27, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist. According to the Church Tradition, he is the author of the fourth Gospel, three New Testament Letters, and the Book of Revelation. In addition, our Sacred Tradition also identifies John as the “beloved disciple” mentioned in John 1:37; 18:15; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7. Furthermore, St. John was the only apostle who did not die as a martyr.
The name “John” is the English form of “Iohannes”, the Latin form of the Greek name: Ἰωάννης (Iōannēs), and derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yôḥānān) meaning “Yahweh is gracious.” Others translate it as “Grace of God.” If we read the twenty-one chapters of the Gospel written by St. John, we can learn three things that we can also do so that like St. John, others may see that indeed, “Yahweh is Gracious.”
BECOME A SIGN THAT POINTS TO JESUS
When John wrote the fourth Gospel, he recorded seven “signs” (the gospel’s word for the wondrous deeds of Jesus):
Changing Water into Wine at Cana (John 2:1-11);
Healing the Royal Official’s Son in Capernaum (John 4:46-54);
Healing of the Paralytic at Bethesda (John 5:1-15);
Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:5-14);
Jesus Walking on Water (John 6:16-24);
Healing the Man Blind from Birth (John 9:1-7); and
The Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45).
Instead of using the word “miracle,” St. John used “signs,” and just as the road sign points to a specific direction, these signs point to Jesus. Like the signs recorded by St. John, let us live a life that gives the right direction, so that others may see the graciousness of God. In addition, let us be like road signs that do not call attention to themselves, but after giving the right direction, stay on the sidelines.
TRUST IN A LOVING GOD
The second part of the Gospel written by St. John is also called “The Book of Glory” (13:1–20:31). In this narrative, St. John recorded that the Lord Jesus, even when He is about to face His passion and death, completely trusted in God. During His arrest, He even went out to face the people who will arrest Him (Jn. 18:4-8). During the inquiry before Annas (Jn. 18:19-24) and the trial before Pilate (Jn. 18:28–19:16), Jesus confidently answered their inquiries and investigation. Furthermore, John told us that Jesus himself carried His own cross (Jn. 19:17). Until His death, the Lord, completely trusted in God.
Like St. John, let us remind one another to have faith and trust in God. Let us remind one another that He is in control and will not allow bad things to happen to those who love Him. Sometimes, we may experience darkness, but “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn. 1:5). In doing this, many people will realize that God is indeed a gracious God.
St. John the Evangelist (Malabon and Dagupan) | Photos by Angelo Mangahas
SHOUT, DOMINUS EST!
Finally, in the last chapter of the Gospel written by St. John, we read about the appearance of the Risen Christ to the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (Jn. 21:1-14). In this story, we were told that they were able to catch one hundred fifty-three large fish after they listened to the instruction of the “unknown man” standing on the shore, whom they later realized as Jesus. On this great catch, it was the disciple whom Jesus loved, identified as St. John who said to Peter, “Dominus Est!” (It is the Lord!).
Like St. John, let us see and recognize the presence of the Lord and have a faith to see the Divine hand in the events of daily life. Like St. John, may we discern the signs of the times that lead to Jesus on earth and will eventually unite us to him forever in heaven. Then, we will also experience the grace of God, on earth as it is in heaven.
PRAYER TO ST, JOHN THE EVANGELIST
O glorious Apostle St. John, who, on account of your virginal purity, was so beloved by Jesus, as to deserve to lay your head upon His divine chest, and to be left, in His place, as son to His most holy Mother. I beg you to inflame me with a most ardent love toward Jesus and Mary. Obtain for me from our Lord, that I too, with a heart purified from earthly afflictions, may be made worthy to be ever united to Jesus as a faithful disciple, and to Mary as a devoted son, both here on earth and eternally in heaven. Amen.