Today, the liturgy celebrates the festivity of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist. The first day after Christmas, the Church celebrates Saint Stephen’s day, the first martyr of the Christian faith, who defended the gospel with his life, and the following day is the feast of Saint John, who defended the gospel with his sound theology.
Saint John the evangelist is the one who better and most deeply understood the mystery of the Word Incarnate. Today’s proposed fragment of his Gospel helps us to understand what Christmas is pointing at.
Trust and Believe.
In today’s gospel, one wonders the reason the gospel is centred around the resurrection story of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not Easter but Christmas. The gospel today would have been more of the birth story of Jesus.
And also one wonders the reason, the feast of Saint John the Evangelist comes at this time, two days after Christmas. Therefore, the feast of Saint John the Evangelist today has a message for us especially at this time of the season.
The gospel of today tells us how Mary of Magdala comes running to Simon Peter and the other disciple that Jesus loves, which is presumably John. ‘She says to them that they have taken the Lord out of the tomb and she doesn’t know where they have put Him.’
So, Peter sets out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They run together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reaches the tomb first; he bends down and sees the linen cloth lying on the ground, but did not go in.
Then, Simon Peter who is following now comes up, goes right into the tomb, sees the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that is over his head. Then, the other disciple who reaches the tomb first also goes in; he sees and he believes.
Indeed, when John arrives at the empty tomb, he sees and believes (John 20:8).
Therefore, John the Evangelist is bearing testimony that what we are celebrating at Christmas is true. John The evangelist is bearing testimony that Jesus came to the world and died for our sins.
This is a message for Christmas, the Church is asking us to trust and believe the gospel.
At Christmas, we truly need to believe the truth of the incarnation. Jesus was once part of human history. The story of the incarnation is not fabricated.
John the Evangelist among other apostles is the last to die. His testimony is to prove the truth of Christmas.
Therefore, trusting the Apostles’ testimony, in every Christmas we are stimulated to ‘see’ and ‘believe’ that what we have been hearing is true. This will then help our faith.
Christmas aims to strengthen our faith more in Jesus Christ. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God and Jesus is the Word. We are then called to listen and hear from Him so that from all that we hear about him we can strengthen our faith.
Therefore, through the feast of Saint John the evangelist, the church is asking us to see, trust and believe the gospel message. We have to trust and believe that Jesus came for the love He has for us.
Where We have the Lack.
Peter and John “run” together towards the tomb, but the text says, on hearing the good news, John outran Peter and reached the tomb first (John 20:4).
You can imagine the fire in John to meet Jesus again, imagine that powerful desire to meet Jesus whom he loved so much for he knows he is Jesus’ most beloved.
It seems that by allowing Peter to be the first to enter the tomb, he shows that it is Peter who holds the primacy of the Apostolic College. Yet, it is his ardent heart, full of zeal, John’s passionate love, which impels him to “run” and “outrun”.
Do we sincerely have this kind of zeal again? Where is that kind of desire today? It is clear that Jesus also loves us but that desire, that energy to know him more rather than to meet him only in time of needs is deeply lacking.
This is the time to lighten that fire again. We only remember God in times of need and this is the reason many Christians lose faith when they think God does not answer their prayers.
Many people have relegated God to the background and lost faith totally in Him. This Christmas is for us to hear, see and believe.
This season is a clear invitation for us to equally live our faith with such a fervent desire like that of John. When we desire God all the more, He fills that thirst with strong faith, wisdom, power and righteousness. You will then stand strong even when everything goes against you. This is when victory shows its head.
Do we truly trust and believe that Jesus truly came, died and resurrected? Do we truly believe that He died for us? If we truly believe this, then we need to show it through the type of life that we are living.
John the Evangelist shows His love for Jesus when He ran to the tomb. We can see that zeal, love and passion as He runs to the tomb. When we hear the gospel message about Jesus, how do we respond to it? How do we resolve to be close to Him? Our response is enough to tell us if we truly believe or not.
Therefore, we have to lighten our fire again. We have to be zealous. We need to show that our love for Jesus is not fake.
May God continue to save and guide us and make our faith strong dearest and protect us in all we do today. God bless you dearest.