I love St. John, for He is the apostle of love and the disciple whom Jesus loved!
At the Last Supper, as with the Lord’s Supper, the stakes of life are raised. The sheep become most clearly sheep who are fed by the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. But the goats become more clearly the goats, eating and drinking judgment on themselves if they eat and drink unworthily. At the same Last Supper, were both John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. The same Jesus was present before them, making the same offer of love and grace. The difference was in the nature of the disciples themselves.
How blessed it must have been to be St. John and to be known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”! Who among us wouldn’t want to be known this way!
This disciple whom Jesus loved was found at the Last Supper “leaning on Jesus’ bosom” (verse 23.) This is the secret of John’s love, and how he earned the name “the disciple whom Jesus loved”: it’s that John was found doing what he loved best, leaning on Jesus’ bosom. John loved to be in Jesus’ presence and to be near Him. I think this is why John is so associated with the love of God.
Was John called “the disciple whom Jesus loved” because Jesus was playing favorites (God is the one person who would have the right to do so), or did it have something to do with the love with which John received Jesus? Maybe John is the disciple whom Jesus loved because John saw Jesus clearly and therefore His love. Maybe John is the disciple of love, not only because God offered Him His love but also because He received it so openly and freely. Only in John’s Gospel is John called “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and so maybe this name has everything to do with the way John received the love of God. Jesus knew the love of His disciple John, and it is to John, and not Peter, to whom Jesus entrusts His mother at the Cross.
Jesus taught His disciples love, by what He said and by what He did. On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus showed His love in such concentrated form that it overwhelms me. He gave them liquid and solid love when He ate His Last Supper with them and sacramentally shared His Body and Blood. He showed them love by serving them and washing their feet. He gave them the New Commandment for the New Covenant He had instituted, and that New Commandment was to love. “As I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
John learned His lesson as a disciple well. He, above all other writers in the New Testament, writes about love, and he is the only one who records this New Commandment of Jesus’ at the Last Supper. John knew love. Because he had accepted God’s love, he knew love. And because He knew God’s love, He could bring it to others as the apostle of love. This is really what the work of evangelism is all about: knowing God and His love and bringing them to others.
Because the disciple of love became the discipler of love and the apostle of love, we too know about the love of God.
In fact, the most amazing thing in the world to me is that it is not only St. John who is “the disciple whom Jesus loved” – it is also you.
Don’t you see? You are the disciple whom Jesus loved.
It isn’t only John or the other 12 disciples whom God loved: it’s each of you. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
You are the one who is supposed to desire to lean on Jesus’ breast, to hang on His every Word, and to love to be as near to Him as possible.
You are the one whom God loves, and you are the one who is supposed to love others because God first loved you. It is to you and to me that God has given the commandment to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
It is to all of us, including you, that Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” By this, our love, as well, the world will know of the love that God has for them.
As John learned from Jesus, let us learn from both Jesus and John to love God that we might be called “the disciples whom Jesus loved,” and so that the world may know the God who sent His Son in love.
Prayer: Merciful Lord, we ask You to cast Your bright beams of light upon Your Church, that it, being illuminated by the doctrine of Your blessed Apostle and Evangelist St. John, may so walk in the light of Your truth, that it may at length obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Points for Meditation:
- Spend time thinking about the ways God has shown His love to you, especially in light of the birth of His Son.
- Meditate on the fact that God has made you “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
- Find one practical way to intentionally show love to someone today.
Resolution: I resolve today to meditate on God’s love for me and on how well I have loved Him.
© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day