St. John the Apostle and Evangelist

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life . . . (I John 1:1).

The first letter of St. John is an integral part of the daily liturgy of Christmas Season. It is also used during the Sundays of the Easter Season, the B Cycle of the Lectionary for Sunday Mass. The words that open that letter are used today as we celebrate the Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. Scholars have offered the opinion that these lines were the original opening words of the Gospel of St. John and that they were replaced by the evangelist with the now very famous and important prologue to that Gospel.

St. John is an important part of our understanding of who Jesus was as the Messiah, as the Son of God, as the Incarnate Word of God. His writings reveal the development of thought regarding the identity of Jesus as the early Christian community reflected on what it had seen, heard, and touched when Jesus was in their midst. We continue to reflect on the mystery of God made flesh, made human. It is, therefore, so appropriate that during this liturgical season we use the words of St. John the Evangelist.

In the opening chapters of St. John's Gospel, we see John the Baptist pointing at Jesus and hear him proclaim: Behold, the Lamb of God. St. John continues to draw our attention to the person of Jesus, for he realized that when one has been touched by Jesus, when one has heard Jesus speak, and when one has seen what Jesus has done for us, our lives are changed forever. As we celebrate his feast day today just two days after we have celebrated the Nativity of Our Lord, we give thanks for this man's incredible contribution to our faith. As he states at the end of his Gospel: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).

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