Today we celebrate the Feast of St. John the Evangelist. In midst of the Christmas season today’s gospel seems out of place. It recounts Mary Magdalene’s experience of Easter morning when she reports to Peter and the other apostles: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.” In that scene she is the first witness to the Resurrection, the first evangelist proclaiming the Good News to those who would be charged with carrying that news to the end of the earth. The scene is as foundational to evangelization as can be.Years later John the Evangelist, according to tradition, settled in Ephesus, where he wrote letters (epistles) including the experience of meeting the Risen Lord beginning on the first evening of the first Easter. Our first reading for today is one of those letters:
1 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—2 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—3 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. (1 John 1:1-3)
First John, like the Gospel, begins with a prologue. The entire emphasis is upon the historical reality of what John and his fellow Christians have experienced. This is the Word of life (v. 1), the message that has been heard and is now to be proclaimed. The message has been incarnated in a human being, the Son, Jesus Christ (v. 3), who was actually heard and seen and touched. In him eternal life became visible so that both he and it might be shared with us (vv. 2–3). This is a fellowship (koinōnia) with both Father and Son, and the very act of describing it in writing is, for the author, a source of consummate joy. “4 We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.”
May your joy be complete in fully accepting fellowship with the community of believers and evangelists.
Image Credit: St John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Silver Springs MD, Public Domain