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Father Muench Says...

The wisdom of St. John the Evangelist

Jan. 17, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

St. John the Apostle, one of the twelve, is St. John the Evangelist, who wrote the fourth Gospel of the New Testament. 

The Gospel according to St. John is very different from the other three Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke.  John’s Gospel contains several long sections – long discourses by Jesus, like the Discourse at the Last Supper.

He also writes a deeply sensitive exposition of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  This St. John is the one who ran with St. Peter to find the tomb empty at the first Easter.

In addition, St. John the Evangelist wrote three letters that appear in the New Testament.

The first Letter of St. John is the more important one; the other two are very short.  Segments of this first letter of St. John are the first readings at the week day Masses during the Christmas Season.

Today, I would like to share with you some of St. John’s message in this First of his Letters in the New Testament.  This letter is uniquely important for us. 

John helps us to discover a deeper understanding of Jesus’ message for us, especially his declaration concerning the humanity and divinity of Christ.

St. John begins this letter by making certain that we realize that he is sharing exactly what Jesus taught him, what he demonstrated while living with him and the other apostles. 

He writes this: “This is what we proclaim to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have touched – we speak of the word of life.”
As we continue to read from this letter, we discover that the word is love – God’s love for us all.

One of the important images for St. John as he writes about message of Jesus is light.  In 1:13 of his letter, St. John writes this: “here, then, is the message we have heard from him and announce to you: that God is light; in him there is no darkness.”

Our God is light for us.  We are able to know God.  John wants us to know God by forming a deep and important relationship, even a friendship with God.  We know God with our heart.

In this letter and through his Gospel, John makes it clear that God loves us.  Jesus came to our world to demonstrate how much God loves us.

In another way, St. John shows us God’s great love for us by teaching us that we are children of God.  We are so loved by our God that our relationship with God is as his children.

In 3:1 of this letter John writes: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet, that is what we are.  The reason the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized the Son!”
Life for us begins as children. Then we wander into adult life, but then comes a time – a time as we age – when we are invited back to being a child again, a child of God.  We must again recognize how profoundly we are to live as children agin.  A child seeks love, the love of a parent. As children of God we find peace and happiness by discovering God’s compassionate love for us.  It is then that we learn who we are:  a loved child, a child loved by our God.  Our lives matter; our lives are important to our God.

St. John then goes on to challenge us to live like a child of God.  In 4:6 of John’s first Letter, he writes: “Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten of God and has knowledge of God.  The one without love has known nothing of God, for God is love.  God’s love was revealed in our midst in this way: he sent his only Son to the world that we might have life through him.”

St. John urges us to live in the love of our God by living as Jesus did.  The challenge is bold yet, it is the only road to sanctity.  And that is what our lives as disciples of Jesus is all about. 

Our effort to love one another is our way to demonstrate to all around us through our way of life.  Knowing in faith – that God’s love is with us – we have the support and strength of our Savior.  We do not have to ever be afraid.

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