St. John, Apostle and Evangelist, Pray For Us!| National Catholic Register

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

John’s attribute in Christian iconography is the eagle, symbolic of the heights to which the Gospel of John soars.

Having authored the “Saints and Art” series for more than a year, I would be remiss if I omitted my own patron, St. John the Evangelist.

Traditionally regarded as the author of the Fourth Gospel, of three epistles (1 John is the First Reading for most days in Christmastide) and the Book of Revelation, he is generally deemed the younger son of Zebedee and Salome and the younger brother of the Apostle James the Greater. Tradition, indeed, treats him as the youngest of the Apostles. He is also the “Beloved Apostle,” Jesus’ favorite, the only one not to desert him during his Passion and Death, the one to whom he entrusts his Mother.

James and John are called “sons of thunder,” which says something both about their supernatural zeal and natural temperaments: they’re the ones who suggest Jesus rain down fire from heaven on the towns that would not receive him. Over time, Jesus might temper them. That said, it takes someone really committed to something to get the job done, especially over the long haul, and John did: tradition says he was the last Apostle to die.

The brothers were working with their father, Zebedee, when Jesus switched their netting focus from fish to men. Tradition says they may have initially been disciples of St. John the Baptist — Messianic expectations ran high in first-century Israel. After being called as an Apostle, John forms part of the “inner core,” privileged to witness various events (the Transfiguration, the raising of the daughter of Jairus, etc.) together only with Peter and James. At the Last Supper, John is said to rest his head on Jesus. He accompanies Peter in the courtyard of the High Priest. He accompanies Mary at the foot of the cross when Peter runs away. In the post-Pentecostal Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John are often mentioned together. John may have also carried out intermittent ministry in Asia Minor (what is today Turkey), with some suggesting he might have finally left Israel by about AD 55. 

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist, Pray For Us!| National Catholic Register

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