05 July 2006

Saint John the Apostle

His Holiness took his seat again today in his teaching chair as he addressed those gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the Wednesday General Audience, reflecting today upon the person of Saint John the Apostle, called "The Theologian" in the Eastern Church.

Making reference to the appearances of John, who, according to tradition is the "beloved disciple," in the Gospels, Pope Benedict reminds us that "John is always part of the restricted group that Jesus took with him on certain occassions." In fact, it was John who, after the Resurrection, "would be the first to recognize the Lord and to point him out to Peter (cf. John 21:1-13)".

The example of John and Peter in bolding proclaiming their faith, says His Holiness, "remains as an example and a warning for all of us that we will be ready to declare with determination our unbreakable adherence to Christ, putting our faith before any human calculation or interest."

Continuing his pattern of drawing an example from the lives of the Apostles, the Holy Father remarked, "we content ourselves with drawing an important lesson for our lives: the Lord wishes to make of each one of us a disciple who lives in personal friendship with him."

But to be a disciple and friend of the Lord, "it is not enough to follow and listen to him exteriorly; it is also necessary to live with him and as him. This is only possible in the context of a relationship of great familiarity, penetrated by the warmth of total trust. It is what happens between friends."

At the conclusion of his address, the Holy Father implored the intercession in two different ways, saying, "Maying the Lord help us to place ourselves in the school of John to learn the great lesson of love so that we feel loved by Christ 'to the end' (John 13:1) and spend our lives for him," and "By his prayers, may we more fully experience the mystery of the Father's love revealed in Christ, and respond by offering our lives ever more generously to him."

To date, His Holiness has reflected upon the person of Peter (17 May, 24 May and 7 June), Andrew (14 June), James the Greater (21 June), James the Less (28 June), and, today of course, John (5 July); 5 down, 7 (or 8?) to go.

I am beginning to wonder: will His Holiness speak on the person of Judas, or will he skip Judas and go on to Matthias? If anybody knows, I would love to know, as well.

Before too long, the Holy Father, like the rest of the Holy See, will begin his summer vacation, during which he will suspend his Wednesday Audiences until he returns to the Vatican in early September. I fear this means that will have to wait until September to hear his continuing reflections on the Apostles. This would be most unfortunate. Perhaps he will continue these catecheses at the Angelus addresses. Inquiring minds want to know.

At any rate, Saint John the Apostle, pray for us!

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