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The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

Com­mem­o­rat­ed on May 8, Sep­tem­ber 26

st-john-theologianThe 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.