St. John the Evangelist had the experience of living with Jesus—walking at his side, watching him perform miracles, listening to his teaching, and receiving signs of personal love.
Much of what we know about John’s life comes through the Gospels. According to Matthew’s Gospel, John was in a boat mending nets with his older brother James and his father Zebedee when Jesus called them to follow him. Their “Yes!” led to a great adventure.
John and James were called Sons of Thunder, possibly because of their fiery tempers. One example was when people in a Samaritan town would not accept Jesus. James and John wanted to call down fire to destroy the town. At another time the brothers secretly asked Jesus to have the highest place in his kingdom. Jesus explained that real greatness comes to those who serve.
John had the special privilege of being with Jesus at crucial times. With Peter and James, John was permitted to watch the miracle of Jairus’s daughter coming back to life. The three witnessed the glory of Jesus’ transfiguration. They were also the three invited to be with Jesus during his agony in the garden. John was also favored when he was the only apostle standing at the foot of the cross. Jesus entrusted to him his mother, Mary.
After Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, John continued to respond to Jesus’ call. One day he and Peter cured a lame beggar in the name of Jesus and were arrested and jailed for the night. The next day religious leaders listened to their message about Jesus’ resurrection and were amazed that these fishermen could speak so convincingly.
It is said that when St. John was very old, people had to carry him to where the Christians assembled to worship. Each time he preached, he gave the same homily: “Little children, love one another.” When people asked if he would talk on a different topic, he said that this is the Lord’s word and if they really did this, they would do enough.
The symbol for John as a Gospel writer is the eagle. An eagle soars higher than other birds, and John’s ideas reach heights that the other Gospels do not. Tradition holds that John is the author of three letters and the Book of Revelation. He was exiled to the isle of Patmos, where he died.
St. John, pray that we may understand the mysteries of our faith more and more!
from Saints Kit
Image credit: John the Evangelist by Hans Memling, 1468. Public Domain via Wikimedia.