The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian
Commemorated on May 8, September 26
The Holy Apostle
and Evangelist John the Theologian occupies an unique place in the ranks of
the chosen disciples of Christ the Saviour. Often in iconography the Apostle
John is depicted as a gentle, majestic and spiritual elder, with features of
innocent tenderness, with the imprint of complete calm upon his forehead and
the deep look of a contemplator of unuttered revelations. Another main trait of
the spiritual countenance of the Apostle John is revealed through his teaching
about love, for which the title "Apostle of Love" is preeminently
designated to him. Actually, all his writings are permeated by love, the basic
concept of which leads to the comprehension, that God in His Being is Love (1
Jn. 4: 8). In his writings, Saint John dwells especially upon the
manifestations of the inexpressible love of God for the world and for mankind,
the love of his Divine Teacher. He constantly exhorts his disciples to mutual
love one for another.
The service of Love – was the entire pathway of life of the Apostle John the Theologian.
The qualities of calmness and profound contemplation were in him combined with an ardent fidelity, tender and boundless love with intensity and even a certain abruptness. From the brief indications of the Evangelists it is apparent, that he was endowed in the highest degree with an ardent nature, and his hearty passionateness sometimes reached such a stormy zealousness, that Jesus Christ was compelled to give the admonishment, that it was discordant with the spirit of the new teaching (Mk. 9: 38-40; Lk. 9: 49-50, 54‑56) and He called the Apostle John and his brother by birth the Apostle James "Sons of Thunder" ("Boanerges"). During this while Saint John shows scant modesty, and besides his particular position among the Apostles as "the disciple whom Jesus loved", he did not stand out among the other disciples of the Saviour. The distinguishing features of his character were the observance and sensitivity to events, permeated by a keen sense of obedience to the Will of God. Impressions received from without rarely showed up in his word or actions, but they penetrated deeply and powerfully into the inner life of the holy Apostle John. Always sensitive to others, his heart ached for the perishing. The Apostle John with pious tremulation was attentive to the Divinely-inspired teaching of his Master, to the fulness of grace and truth, in pure and sublime comprehending the Glory of the Son of God. No feature of the earthly life of Christ the Saviour slipped past the penetrating gaze of the Apostle John, nor did any event occur, that did not leave a deep impression on his memory, since in him was concentrated all the fulness and wholeness of the human person. The thoughts also of the Apostle John the Theologian are imbued with suchlike an integral wholeness. The dichotomy of person did not exist for him. In accord with his precepts, where there is not full devotion, there is nothing. Having chosen the path to service to Christ, to the end of his life he fulfilled it with complete and undivided devotion. The Apostle John speaks about wholistic a devotion to Christ, about the fulness of life in Him, wherefore also sin is considered by him not as a weakness and injury of human nature, but as evil, as a negative principle, which is completely set in opposition to the good (Jn. 8: 34; 1 Jn. 3: 4, 8-9). In his perspective, it is necessary to belong either to Christ or to the devil, it is not possible to be of a mediocre lukewarm, undecided condition (1 Jn. 2: 22, 4: 3; Rev. 3: 15-16). Therefore he served the Lord with undivided love and self-denial, having repudiated everything that appertains to the ancient enemy of mankind, the enemy of truth and the father of lies (1 Jn. 2: 21-22). Just as strongly as he loves Christ, just as strongly he contemns the Anti-Christ; just as intensely he loves truth, with an equal intensity does he contemn falsehood, – for light doth expel darkness (Jn. 8: 12; 12: 35-36). By the manifestation of the inner fire of love he witnesses with the unique power of spirit about the Divinity of Jesus Christ (Jn. 1: 1-18; 1 Jn. 5: 1-12).
To the Apostle John was given to express the last word of the Divine Revelation (i.e. the final book of the Holy Scripture), ushering in the most treasured mysteries of the Divine inner life, known only to the eternal Word of God, the Only-Begotten Son.
Truth is reflected in his mind and in his words, wherein he senses and grasps it in his heart. He has comprehension of eternal Truth, and as he sees it, he transmits it to his beloved spiritual children. The Apostle John with simplicity affirms or denies and speaks always with absolute precision (1 Jn. 1: 1). He hears the voice of the Lord, revealing to him what He Himself hears from the Father.
The theology of the Apostle John abolishes the borderline between the present and the future. Looking at the present time, he does not halt at it, but transports his gaze to the eternal in the past time and to the eternal in the future time. And therefore he, exhorting for holiness in life, solemnly proclaims, that "all, born of God, sin not" (1 Jn. 5: 18; 3: 9). In communion with God the true Christian partakes of life Divine, whereby the future of mankind is accomplished already on earth. In his explanation and disclosing of the teaching about the Economia of salvation, the Apostle John crosses over into the area of the eternal present, in which Heaven would co-incide with earth and the earth would be enlightened with the Light of Heavenly Glory.
Thus did the Galilean fisherman, this son of Zebedee, become Theologian proclaiming through Revelation the mystery of world-existence and the fate of mankind.
The celebration on 8 May of the holy Apostle John the Theologian was established by the Church in remembrance of the annual drawing forth on this day at the place of his burial of fine rose ashes, which believers gathered for healing from various maladies. The account about the life of the holy Evangelist John the Theologian is situated under 26 September, the day of his repose.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.