Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Feast of St. John the Evangelist

The three days immediately following the Nativity of the Lord are special days on the liturgical calendar. 26 December is the Feast of St. Stephen. 28 December is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Following closely on the heels of these feasts, which interrupt the Octave of Christmas in the Liturgy of the Hours for the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer, is the Memorial of St. Thomas Becket. Today, 27 December, is the Feast of St. John the Evangelist.

Just as the Feast of St. Stephen is a special day for deacons, the Feast of St. John the Evangelist is a special day for priests. By no means are these days holy days of obligation. In fact, in many parishes in which there is only one priest, it is not atypical for there to be no daily Masses as the priest might take a few days of vacation after the marathon of the Lord's Nativity, especially this year when Christmas Eve was also the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

Plaque of St. John the Evangelist, elephant ivory, early 9th century, Carolingian Empire; The Cloisters, New York, taken by my lovely friend Sharon Mollerus on 16 January 2009

I love that on this third day of Christmas, just two days after we celebrated the Lord's birth, that our Gospel reading is part of the Gospel According to St. John's account of Christ's resurrection. Our reading begins with Mary Magdalene going to Peter to tell him someone has taken Jesus's body and she does not know where they've put him. Hearing this Peter and "the other disciple," who is taken to be St. John, run to the tomb. John outruns Peter, beating him to the tomb. When arrives, he looks in but does not enter the tomb. Upon his arrival, Peter enters the tomb and finds it empty except for the burial cloths, which were "rolled up." Apparently, Peter does not know what to make of this. Gathering himself up, the other disciple enters the tomb "saw and believed."

Our first reading, 1 John 1:1-4, sets forth what is proclaimed as the result of this seeing and believing.

Pray for your pastor and all the priests you know.

Today's Collect:
O God, who through the blessed Apostle John
have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word,
grant, we pray,
that we may grasp with proper understanding
what he has so marvelously brought to our ears.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who loves and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever

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