Martyrology - December
Upon the 27th day of December were born into the better life:
At Ephesus, the holy Apostle and Evangelist John. After the writing of his Gospel after his return from exile, and after the Revelation which God gave unto him, he lived on until the time of the Emperor Trajan, and founded and governed the churches of all Asia. He died of old age in the sixty-eighth year after the death of Christ (about the year 101), and was buried hard by the city of Ephesus.
At Alexandria, holy Maximus, Pope of that See, who was eminently worthy to be called a confessor (in the year 282).
At Constantinople the holy brethren Theodore (Grapt) and Theophanes. They were bred up from their childhood in the monastery of St. Saba, and afterwards stoutly contended for the honouring of holy images against the Emperor Leo the Armenian, for the which he caused them to be beaten and sent into exile, and after his death they still stoutly withstood the Emperor Theophilus, who was held captive by the same ungodliness, for the which he also caused them to be again beaten and driven into exile. Theodore died in prison, but Theophanes, after that peace was given back to the Church, was made Bishop of Nice, and fell asleep in peace in the Lord (ninth century).
Likewise, at Constantinople, the holy virgin Niceras, who was eminent for her holiness, in the time of the Emperor Arcadius (about the year 440).
And elsewhere many other Holy Martyrs, Confessors and Holy virgins.
R. Thanks be to God
Meditations - 27th December
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
In our next meditation we will learn from St. John : First, to love Jesus Christ; Second, to love our neighbour; Third, specially to love the Blessed Virgin. We will then make the resolution to perform all our actions from love to God, to love our neighbour with the generous love which bears and pardons, to reanimate our love towards the Blessed Virgin. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the title which St. John gave to himself : "He was the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John xiii. 23).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore Jesus Christ, loving St. John with a love of predilection, and in return beloved by St. John with an incomparable affection. Let us also honour Mary as the adopted mother of St. John and let us congratulate this happy disciple to have had such tender and intimate relations with Jesus and Mary.
St John teaches us to love Jesus Christ
He offers to us in his whole life one of the most beautiful examples of this love. If he writes his Gospel, we feel when reading it that it is love which has held the pen, each page breathes nothing but love. If he writes his Epistles, charity itself seems to have dictated them; they may be summed up in these words : let us love God, let us Jove Jesus, let us love our neighbour. If he composes his Apocalypse, love overflows it on every side and inspires it down to the last line, which is a sigh of love : " Come, Lord Jesus" (Apoc. xxii. 20). His nets as well as his writings are nothing but inspirations of his love. 'For this love is due within his beautiful soul innocence of life and simplicity of manners, and in his exterior candour and modesty, within, a virginal purity which is the delight of Jesus, the true friend of virgins, the king of virgins ; in his exterior life, evangelizing travels, first through the cities of Israel and the fields of Samaria, then after Pentecost, across Asia, where he founds churches, consecrates bishops, combats heretics, and when the frosts of old age prevent him from walking he has himself carried to church to preach love and to say to the faithful, '' My little children, love one another." His love, superior to all fear, had led him on the night of the Passion into the midst of the raging people to seek there his beloved, and the very day of the Passion to the foot of the cross, there to console Jesus, if he could not defend Him; but after the death of Jesus love made him brave exile, and martyrdom, and boiling oil, and the fury of tyrants. Could there be a more fervent love? Alas! what is ours in comparison? Let us rouse ourselves and excite ourselves to love this amiable Jesus.
St. John exhibits in his life the great blessings which love procures for him who loves. We see by him that he who loves Jesus is sure to be loved in the same proportion. Because St. John loved much, Jesus heaps upon him all the favours of which He gave the others only a share ; He makes him at one and the same time an apostle, an evangelist, a bishop, a doctor, a martyr, a confessor, a virgin, a patriarch, and a founder of the churches in Asia ; at the Last Supper He receives him upon His heart, and He inundates him with treasures of holiness and of light ; he raises his eyes up to the bosom of the Father, there to contemplate the generation of the Word, and there to write his Gospel, there to read in the future and behold the triumphs of the Church and its trials, the fall of idolatry, and the events of the latter days. Oh, how good it is to love Jesus, and how magnificently He recompenses those who love Him! O my soul, open thyself to the love of Jesus, and henceforth live only to love Him!
St John teaches us to Love our Neighbour.
The other Evangelists only indicated the precept of charity, to St. John it was given to develop it in all its beauty. It is he who teaches us that evangelical charity is a really new commandment, because of the perfection to which it ought to rise (John xm. 34); that it is the distinctive character of the Christian (Ibid. 35); that it ought to be modelled upon the very love itself which Jesus Christ felt for men to the extent of forgiving all wrongs and meeting ingratitude and cold ness with nothing but love (Ibid. 34) ; that it ought to take its model higher still, in the union of the three Divine Persons amongst themselves (John vii. 22). Such is the sublime doctrine which he preaches all his life long ; and when the weakness of age does not allow him to deliver long discourses, he knows how to repeat in the assembly of the faithful : "My little children, love one another." But wherefore always repeat to us the same words? he was asked. Because, he replied, such is the precept of the Saviour, and if we observe it, that suffices (St. Jerome, in Epist. ad Galatas). Is it thus that we understand charity?
St. John Teaches us to Love the Blessed Virgin.
He did indeed love her as the mother of Jesus; this title was all sufficient for the disciple whom Jesus loved; but also loved her as his own mother, given as a legacy to his love by the dying Jesus. "Behold thy mother" (John xix. 27), the Divine Saviour had said to him. And on account of this double title, he felt towards her all that nature puts of what is most loving into the heart of a son, and all that grace, from which he held this sonship, can add to nature. He was her guardian angel, her consoler, her support, her refuge. After the death of the Saviour, he received this afflicted widow, this desolate mother, into his house, he lavished on her his services and his tenderness, and as long as she lived, he provided for all her wants. Oh, how profitable for St. John were these good offices which he performed for Mary! What benefit to his soul he received from the holy examples of piety, of humility, of gentleness, of modesty, and charity which he had constantly before his eyes, in his heavenly intercourse with the mother of a God, in the good counsels, the touching exhortations which he received from her, and above all in the prayers by which she drew down blessings from heaven upon him and upon the whole of his apostolic labours! Oh, how good it is to love Mary, to be wholly devoted to her, and how many graces are attached to this devotion! Do we thoroughly understand it, and do we Endeavor every day to increase in our love for Mary?
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.