Today, December 27, is my saint’s day. St John the Apostle, brother of James, son of Zebedee, loyal to the end to our savior, protector of the Mother of God after the crucifixion, author of the Gospel of light.
St John is one of those few essential men without whom the church would look quite different than it does. Unfortunately, John is sometimes portrayed as a girly man, one who looks like a confused metrosexual rather than one of the strongest men who ever lived.
By strongest, I don’t mean physical strength, although to have survived to nearly 100 AD, given his active and hard life, he clearly had stamina. I mean his strength of spirit. John, when he joined Jesus during our Lord’s first year of his ministry, was a fiery young man. John was one of the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17), the name given him and his brother James by Jesus himself.
John was there at the Transfiguration; he stood by the cross when our Lord was crucified – alone among the apostles. Think that this did not require courage? Would that we who claim to be Christians had half of this strength of purpose and character.
John as the likely author of the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelation) bears witness to who this man actually was: on fire with the Holy Spirit. Those of us named after him have a tough row to hoe. Lord, give me the strength to be even half the man that your St John the Apostle was.