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St. John, The Evangelist

27th December 2019, Friday, St. John, Evangelist
1 John 1:1-4 / John 20:2-8 

Eternal life becomes visible: We touched him with our hands. 

Cyril Egan wrote a poem called “A Kind of Prayer.” It’s about a person who’s looking for something. Everywhere he goes, he searches, searches, searches. One day someone asks him what he’s searching for. He responds, “I’m looking for God.” Then he adds quickly: “Don’t tell me I’ll find him in my heart (Though in a sense that’s true); And don’t tell me I’ll find him in my fellow man (Though in a sense that’s true, too). What I’m looking for is a God making a five-sense breakthrough to humanity.”

In other words, he’s looking for a God that he can see and touch. That’s precisely the kind of God John speaks about in today’s reading.
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Do we relate to Jesus in a personal way? “Thomas . . . look at my hands . . . and believe!” John 20:27
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According to tradition, St. John was subjected to torture by being plunged into a pot of boiling oil but he miraculously survived, whereas the other apostles were martyred. It is also believed that he lived to a ripe old age of about 94 and he died of natural causes. There could be some truth in that because the gospel that is attributed to him contains a spiritual depth that is more profound and also more mysterious than in the other three gospels.

In biblical art, the Gospel of John is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the insight to the height of the mystery of the person of Jesus which was expounded in the first chapter of the gospel.

It had that depth of insight to the height of the mystery probably from the reflection and meditation over the years.

There was a story that when St. John was an old man, he was asked to preach to a gathering of believers. 

His message was short yet sublime: Dear children, love one another. Learn to love one another as God loves you. That is also the central theme in the gospel of John - the love that God has for us, and it can be found in passages like  John 3:16-17; 13:34-35; 15:17. 

Yesterday at the feast of St. Stephen, we were confronted with the hostility of humanity in the martyrdom of St. Stephen. 

But today in the feast of St. John, we are lifted to the tenderness of divinity from which is poured out love and forgiveness. It is a profound theme, and to love one another and forgive one another as Jesus has loved us and forgiven us is a spirituality and a mystery that needed to be constantly reflected and meditated upon in our hearts. 

Like St. John may God also deepen and enlighten us in His love for us so that we will in turn love one another as Jesus has loved us.
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Liturgy:

ST. JOHN, EVANGELIST

Introduction

Close to our Lord, obsessed by love. These may will be the marks of John, the Evangelist. He had experienced in his person what it means to be loved by Jesus and to love in return. And Jesus was the Lord, God’s Son! In later life, he was driven by this love, as his Gospel and his first letter reveal to us. He was the man who preached love; the words he used, the urgency and insistence with which he spoke cannot come but from a man who lived this love deeply and who felt that this should be the mark too, of the Christian communities.

Opening Prayer:

Lord God, you are love itself.
We know that you loved us first
before we could ever love you.
Let this unforgettable experience
of your “beloved apostle,” John
become also our deep and lasting experience.
May the love you have shown us
in your Son, Jesus Christ,
move us to love you very deeply in return
and overflow on all those we meet in life.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord.  

Intercessions: – Lord Jesus, make us understand and put into practice that the core of the Gospel is love for you and for one another, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, may our words and actions bear witness that we believe and rejoice in you as our risen Lord, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, make us happy people, who feel secure because we know that we live in your presence, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
:
Father, bread and wine are the signs
in which your Son gives himself to us today.
May these gifts be, at the same time,
the signs in which we place ourselves
at your disposal.
May we have the courage to reach out
to our neighbors far and near,
our brothers and sisters whom you love
and whom we love
in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
:
Our living and loving God,
who can nourish our love better
than he who spoke of it to us,
your Son, Jesus Christ?
Like him, who strengthens us by his body and blood,
may we respond to the warmth of your love
by caring for our brothers and sisters,
even at the expense of ourselves.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord.

Blessing:
John is the apostle who insists that we should love one another as Jesus loves us. Jesus asks us to live in him as he lives in us. May we remain and grow in this love, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:
John the Apostle, one of the original Twelve, was the brother of James and the son of Zebedee. At one time he was identified as the author of the fourth Gospel; that position is not widely held today. The author of the Gospel is simply said to be “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20), but nowhere in the Gospel is that disciple identified.
The feast today, however, honors John, one of the apostles, one who certainly lived the life of discipleship. In today’s intro duction to the first letter of the author John, the disciple is said to be one who accepts the reality of Christ, who believes that he is truly God’s Son who has appeared in the flesh. He was a man in the fullest sense of the word. At the same time, as today’s Gospel makes clear, the believer is convinced that the tomb was empty because Jesus had risen and had gone to the Father.
Moreover, as the Gospel of John describes him, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” is the one who rests his head on the chest of Jesus, stands at the foot of the cross, is entrusted to Mary, runs to the tomb on Easter morning, and recognizes the risen Christ on the lake shore. In short, he is the true believer who never falters and never abandons the Lord. While we know little about the Aposde John, we hardly err in seeing many of these qualities in him.
Early Christianity saw the emergence of heterodox groups who were qualifying their belief in the God-Man. Some claimed that he was not truly man but only appeared to be such. Others recognized his manhood but not his divinity; he was the best of all possible men but that and no more. Orthodoxy has consistently taught what the writings of John the Evangelist express: Christ was God in the flesh.
At times we find it difficult to be the faithful disciple. We are prone to avoid the difficult choice that often leads to the cross. We practice our faith but hardly run to the tomb. We view the shoreline of life from various angles but do not always see the Lord in what transpires. There is a real lesson in today’s readings. To remain true to Christ throughout fife is not an easy path but becomes possible with the conviction that Christ alone is truly the way, the truth, and the life. In the words of Isaiah, it means “to run and not grow weary.”

Points to Ponder
:
Jesus, true God and true man
The beloved disciple, resting in Christ
The beloved disciple, standing at the cross
The beloved disciple, running to the tomb
The true disciple, “It is the Lord