ST. JOHN, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST.
Mass readings and St. Augustine’s treatise.
Born in Bethsaida, St. John together with James, his brother, and Simon Peter, was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration. He wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Apocalypse. He is the evangelist of the divinity of Christ and of fraternal love. At the Last Supper, he leans on the Master’s breast. At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusts his Mother to his care. John’s pure life kept him very close to Jesus and Mary. St. John was exiled to Patmos in the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81-96). Previous to this, according to Tertullian’s testimony, John had been thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil before the Porta Latina at Rome without suffering injury. After Domitian’s death the Apostle returned to Ephesus during the reign of Trajan, and at Ephesus he died about A.D. 100 at a great age.
1 Jn 1:1–4
Beloved: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life(for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us, what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are around him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the Lord, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord: we acclaim you; the glorious company of apostles praises you.
Jn 20:1a and 2–8
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.
A treatise by St Augustine on the epistle of John
The flesh revealed Life itself
We announce what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have touched with our own hands. Who could touch the Word with his hands unless the Word was made flesh and lived among us?
Now this Word, whose flesh was so real that he could be touched by human hands, began to be flesh in the Virgin Mary’s womb; but he did not begin to exist at that moment. We know this from what John says: What existed from the beginning. Notice how John’s letter bears witness to his Gospel, which you just heard a moment ago: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.
Someone might interpret the phrase the Word of life to mean a word about Christ, rather than Christ’s body itself which was touched by human hands. But consider what comes next: and life itself was revealed. Christ therefore is himself the Word of life.
And how was this life revealed? It existed from the beginning, but was not revealed to men, only to angels, who looked upon it and feasted upon it as their own spiritual bread. But what does Scripture say? Mankind ate the bread of angels.
Life itself was therefore revealed in the flesh. In this way what was visible to the heart alone could become visible also to the eye, and so heal men’s hearts. For the Word is visible to the heart alone, while flesh is visible to bodily eyes as well. We already possessed the means to see the flesh, but we had no means of seeing the Word. The Word was made flesh so that we could see it, to heal the part of us by which we could see the Word.
John continues: And we are witnesses and we proclaim to you that eternal life which was with the Father and has been revealed among us – one might say more simply “revealed to us.”
We proclaim to you what we have heard and seen. Make sure that you grasp the meaning of these words. The disciples saw our Lord in the flesh, face to face; they heard the words he spoke, and in turn they proclaimed the message to us. So we also have heard, although we have not seen.
Are we then less favoured than those who both saw and heard? If that were so, why should John add: so that you too may have fellowship with us? They saw, and we have not seen; yet we have fellowship with them, because we and they share the same faith.
And our fellowship is with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And we write this to you to make your joy complete – complete in that fellowship, in that love and in that unity.
Responsory ℟. Today we honour John, the apostle who leant on the Lord’s breast during the Last Supper.* Great is his happiness, to whom the secrets of heaven were revealed.
℣. He drank the streams of the gospel from their very source, the sacred breast of the Lord.* Great is his happiness, to whom the secrets of heaven were revealed.
Let us pray
O God, who through the blessed Apostle John have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our ear. Through our Lord.