Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Feast Day of Saint John

The day after we celebrate the life of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen, we celebrate the life of the only one of the original 12 disciples die of natural causes in old age.  Tradition tells us that John was first a disciple of John the Baptist, and then a disciple of Christ, the one who came to be known as the beloved disciple, the one tasked with looking after Mary, the mother of Jesus.

There is much debate over how much of the Bible was actually written by this disciple.  If we had lived 80 years ago, we'd have firmly believed that the disciple wrote the Gospel of John, the letters of John, and the book of Revelation.  Twentieth century scholars came to dispute this belief, and if you do scholarly comparison, you would have to conclude that the same author could not have written all of those books. 

Regardless, most of us remember St. John as the disciple who spent a long life writing and preaching.  He's the patron saint of authors, theologians, publishers, and editors.  He's also the patron saint of painters. 

Today, as many of us may be facing a bit of depression or cabin fever, perhaps we can celebrate the feast of St. John by a creative act.  Write a poem about what it means to be the beloved disciple.  Write a letter to your descendants to tell them what your faith has meant to you.  Paint a picture--even if you can't do realistic art, you could have fun with colors as you depict the joy that Jesus brings to you.

Here's a prayer for the day, from Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime:  "Shed upon your Church, O Lord, the brightness of your light, that we, being illumined by the teaching of your apostle and evangelist John, may walk in the light of your truth, that at length we may attain to the fullness of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen."

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