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The feast of St. John the Evangelist comes in the wake of Christmas, Dec. 27. He is a great saint for Christmas because of his special relationship with Jesus and Mary. He is called “the disciple who Jesus loved.” He laid his head on Jesus’s chest at the Last Supper, and he is the one who tells us “God is love.”
But he was also very close to Mary — which is to be expected. Moms often have a close relationship with the friends their sons are especially close to. Here are five ways we see John’s closeness to Mary in the New Testament.
1: John Is the Christmas Poet. Rather than hearing about a baby and a manger, most people heard John’s majestic poetry at Christmas Mass, because his Gospel is the Gospel for the day:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
2: John and the Christmas Before Time. In his Book of Revelation, John also shared a poetic image of a Christmas before time: Revelation 12, an image of a woman appearing before all the angels, giving birth to “one who is to rule the nations with an iron rod.” The vision has multiple layers of meaning. It is an image of the Ark of the Covenant and also of the Church, but its Marian dimension is undeniable and has been acknowledged from the earlier days in the Church:
“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.”
3: John Spent Christmases with Mary. John is there at the foot of the cross along with Jesus’s mother. It was there that Jesus put him in Mary’s charge. We can imagine that he spent his Christmases after that with Mary. He would have heard stories of Jesus directly from her — and, just as importantly, he would have shaped his own theology to the results of his all the “pondering” she did in her heart about the incarnation.
4: John Raced from Mary to Jesus. Before he spent Christmas with her, though, he left her side on the first Easter Sunday to race Peter to the tomb. He won, and showed what Mary always inspires: She sends us hurrying to Jesus.
5: John Showed Mary Celebrating. It is through John that we know the story of the wedding feast at Cana — when Mary initiated Jesus’s first public miracle because she noticed the celebration didn’t have enough wine. And now, the feast of St. John the Evangelist is associated with wine.
So raise a glass and celebrate with Jesus, Mary and John on Dec. 27 … and beyond.
Image: Steven Zucker, Smarthistory co-founder, Flickr