Sunday, December 31, 2000

The Apostle of many names

Today on the third day of Christmas once again we wear red vestments for St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. Known to be the youngest of the apostles, he is often depicted in artwork with long red hair and no beard. Sadly, he is the one Dan Brown in his fiction tries to call Mary Magdalene, in the painting of the last supper.

He is known as beloved disciple, described at the last supper with his head on Jesus's chest. And he is the author of five books of the Bible: The Gospel of John, three Letters, and the Book of Revelation. He is the one who give us the simple Christian definition of the word God, God is love.

He is depicted as so sweet and gentle that we can forget that he and his brother James are called collectively by Jesus "Sons of Thunder." These brothers the sons of Zebedee were under no delusion that being Christian meant being passive. They were not afraid to verbally "thunder" when it was called for. Yes, at times Jesus has to reel them in, and John's fiery imagery in the Book of Revelation has served to fuel Christian crazies for centuries. But in the end he may still be my favorite of the apostles.

If I had to chose a single word to describe him it would be intense—from the intensity of his preaching to the more important intensity of his love for Christ. He was the only apostle chose not to run away from the Crucifixion, the apostle to whom Jesus would entrust his mother.

On this third day of Christmas we remember St. John, beloved disciple, apostle, evangelist, and son of thunder.

May we be filled on this winter day with the same fiery spirit that filled St. John.