Repose of Apostle John – Love and Labor

20131009_johnapostle_sqIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember the repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. Holy Apostle John, pray for us!

In the Holy Church, very few saints were called “Theologian”, and the Holy Apostle John was one of them, reminding us the saint was a seer of the holy Judgments of God. The Holy Apostle John, together with the Holy Apostle James, was also called “Sons of Thunder”, where the saint experienced the cleansing power of the heavenly fire, as one of the great messengers of the revelations of God.

When the Apostle John fasted for three days at a desolate height with his disciple Prokhoros, the saint was praying when the earth shook and the skies thundered. The disciple Prokhoros was frightened and fell to the ground. The Apostle John lifted his disciple up and told him to write down, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, Which is and Which was and Which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8), and the Book of Revelation was written in 67 AD.

The Holy Apostle John the Beloved, often depicted in icons, and one especially meaningful is when he leaned on the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ also referred to the Apostle in the Gospels, when our Lord said to the Apostle in the presence of our beloved Theotokos, “Behold your mother!” (St John 19:25-27; 21:24-25). The Apostle looked after our Theotokos as his own mother thereafter. He showed us just how our Theotokos is to us, and we to her.

The Epistles of the Apostle also encouraged us (1 John 4:12-19), that even in our blinded state, as long as we love one another, God abides in us. No law can suppress love, and love conquers all calamities and all fears, because God is love. When we encounter someone who hates us, love him anyway, for we seek and long for God’s providence and His mercy, and long this Him to abide in us. When we encounter someone who suffers so much more than us, embrace him just as Christ our Lord, all the holy apostles and saints before us, embrace those in suffering, in love. There is no greater love than to bear the cross of another, to lighten his burdens, as we often reflect on St Matthew 11:28-30.

I read a beautiful discourse by His Grace, Vladyka Pachomy (Bruskov), on preparing for Holy Communion, and the compassion and love of the Holy Church has shown to all of us who need the healing of our Lord. In the Vladyka’s message, he kindly mentioned the story told by Metropolitan Benjamin in his book “Godly People”, about an encounter the Metropolitan had when he was retreating to Crimea, when he arrived at a monastery in Cherson. The Vladyka saw the elderly abbot standing while his brethren sat down during the Psalte reading. Vladyka Benjamin asked the elder, “Father, you are an aged man and experienced elder. Tell me, why did all the brothers sit, but you stand?” The old man replied, “Vladyka, if I sit down, they will lie down”. The old abbot stood out of love for his brethren, so that he would raise his brethren with him towards God in prayers.

We are people with various means, with various challenges, with various journeys, but all of us seek a journey towards God. Whether some of us can find the means to love another through material means, or bearing another’s burdens, or if we can long for, become pillars of support for one another in our spiritual journeys towards God, then we would fulfill what the Holy Apostle John has wrote for us.

Let us, beloved, repent often and pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Joel 2:12-14
Psalm 103:8-12 (LXX 102)
St John 19:25-27; 21:24-25
1 John 4:12-19