Lifelong CatechesisForming Catholic identity across generations
During the Christmas season from December 24th until the Sunday after Epiphany, we reflect upon the mystery of love that is made visible in the birth and early childhood of Christ.
John, Apostle and Evangelist, First Century
John and his brother, James, were the sons of Zebedee. Like his father and brother, John was a fisherman on Lake Gennesaret until, with James, he was called by Jesus to follow him. John was the youngest of the apostles. He and James were called "sons of thunder" by Jesus because of their volatile temperaments.
Many events in all of the gospels attest to the fact that John was among those apostles closest to Jesus. Perhaps the best known incident is at the Crucifixion, where Jesus placed his mother, Mary, in the care of John. And he, representing all of us, was commended to Mary as her son.
St. Paul refers to John, along with Peter and James, as "these leaders, these pillars" of the Church in Jerusalem (Gal. 2:9). According to tradition, John went to Rome during one of the early persecutions under Emperor Domitian and miraculously escaped martyrdom by emerging from a cauldron of boiling oil unscathed. He was exiled to the island of Patmos where he began his writing with the Book of Revelation. Later, after the death of Domitian, John returned to Ephesus where he wrote the fourth gospel and three epistles. He died there in about 100, the last surviving apostle and the only apostle who did not suffer martyrdom.
The writings of John are unique among the Evangelists. In many of the events recorded by him, he writes as a playwright would; first setting the stage, then describing the characters, and, finally, presenting the dialog which took place. Three examples of this quality found in his gospel are Jn 4:5-42 (the woman at the well); Jn 9:1-41 (the man born blind), and Jn 11:1-45 (Lazarus raised from the dead).
St. John the Evangelist is often called St. John the Divine in England and in the Eastern Church. A Feast honors this saint on December 27.
John’s message today: Imagine being one of Jesus’ closest friends! Imagine living, working, and sharing your life with the Messiah, traveling where he traveled, witnessing his miracles, listening to his stories. Toward the end of his life, John recorded his experiences as a disciple of Jesus so that we can have an idea of what it was like to know Jesus.