The Gospel for the Mass for the Feast of St. John is John 20:1-8. 

Following the somber celebration of the martyrdom (death) of St. Stephen (The Feast of St. Stephen on the second day of Christmas), the Church recalls with the beautiful and mysterious discovery of the Resurrection in the Feast of St. John.  John, a fishermen, was a disciple of St. John the Baptist until the Baptist revealed Christ’s divinity, calling Him, “The Lamb of God.” Christ draws John into His inner circle (with Peter and John’s brother, James); John witnesses the Transfiguration, helps Peter prepare the Last Supper, sees the Agony in the Garden, is the first apostle to the empty Tomb and is appointed by Christ from the Cross to be the guardian of the Virgin Mary until her Assumption. John’s long life (he lived to his mid-90’s) gave him 60-70 years to live as a Christian; John’s Gospel and the Book of Revelation are divinely inspired revelations of the life of Christ, both during the Incarnation and in Heaven. 

Despite Christ’s repeated assurance that He would rise from the dead after three days,Mary Magdalene discovers the open Tomb on Easter morning and tells Peter that Christ’s body has been stolen. John arrives at the tomb first but does not enter, presumably in honor of Peter’s authority. Peter, and then John, enter the tomb and discover that Christ’s body is gone but the folded napkin (a small cloth placed over the face of the dead) and the linens that wrapped the body remain. Seeing the linens, the apostles believe Christ has risen from the dead to life; some hypothesize the reason Peter and John absolutely believe is because the linens carry the image of the Risen Christ, as mysteriously preserved in the Shroud of Turin. 

After Christ’s Ascension, St. John cared for the Blessed Virgin as instructed by Christ until Mary’s Assumption into Heaven. Evangelizing in Jerusalem, Judea and Ephesus, John also oversaw the Churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey); John was also exiled for a time on the Island of Patmos. Tradition holds that St. John is the author of the Gospel of John, three Epistles and the Book of Revelation. St. John continues to be venerated at the Basilica of St. John in Selçuk (Ephesus), Turkey. 

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is killed and rises from the dead. Divine Prophet, Christ repeatedly and accurately predicts His Passion and Resurrection. Divine King, Christ purposefully identifies and recruits unlikely disciples including Peter and John who lead His Church on earth. Son of Man, Christ leaves the evidence of the linens in the Tomb to convince Peter and John of His bodily Resurrection. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at Christ’s great wisdom in selecting and inspiring St. John to care for His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to write the stunning Gospel of St. John and the Book of Revelation.  

2) St. John is often associated with the image of an eagle given his amazing vision of the implications of Christ’s Kingdom. During Christmastime, reflect upon some of John’s insights including God is Love (John 3:16, CCC 214, 218-221), Christ is the “Word” (John 1:14, CCC 461), Christ’s Great Prayer to the Father (John 11:41-42, CCC 2604), Christ’s Bread of Life Sermon (John 6, CCC 1338) and Heaven in the Book of Revelation (CCC 1137). Aspire in the new year to draw closer to Christ in the Scriptures of St. John. St. John, pray for us! 

3) Peter denied Christ three times and abandoned Him at the Cross while John was the only Apostle to courageously accompany the Holy Mother to the Crucifixion; nevertheless, John in obedience to Christ’s designation of Peter as the leader of the Apostles, steadfastly honors Peter at the tomb and in John’s Gospel. During Christmas, reflect upon the Papacy (CCC 880-887. 936-937) and pray for Christ to help you remain obedient to the papacy even if the current pope appears to fall into error.