December 26, 2011

Third Day of Christmas, Feast of St. John the Apostle


Morning - Ps. 23, 24, Ex. 33:12, Jn. 13:20-35
Evening - Ps. 97, Is. 6:1-8, Rev. 1


Reading Exodus 33:18 one would expect the second reading to come from John 1:1-14, especially emphasising Jn. 1:14, "and we beheld his glory." Instead, the lectionary takes us to John 13, and the common thread between the two readings seems to be the grace, or love, God had for Moses and John. In Exodus God claims the right to choose for Himself whom He will give grace and mercy, and whom He will not. This is important because it shows Moses that he was not given the leadership of Israel, or the closeness he enjoyed with God, on the basis of his own intrinsic worth. He had these things because God chose to have mercy on him and to exalt him to this position. The same is true of John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. We cannot take theses words to mean Jesus did not love the others; John 13:1 makes it clear that He loved His disciples, and continues to love all of His people, and John 31:34, Jesus, speaking directly to the eleven (for Judas has already left at this point) commands the disciples to love one another as He has loved them. This statement about John, then, must mean he shared a closeness with Christ that went beyond that of the other disciples. Was it this closeness to Christ that was the foundation of John's Gospel, one of the most beloved books of all time? No, the closeness and the inspiration are the result of God's choice of John to be and Apostle and to write the Gospel.

But the real point being made in the two readings is that, just as Israel was to continue in the teachings given by God through Moses, the Church is to continue in the teachings given by God through the Apostle John. Not just Moses and John, for in a sense, Moses represents all of the law and prophets, meaning the Old Testament, and John represents all of the Apostles, and, therefore, all of the New Testament. Ultimately, then, we are not just remembering John today, we are looking to the One who called and enabled him to write and teach the Church, that we may walk in the light of His truth, and "attain to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord."