A Meditation on St. John the Beloved (For Lent)
My name is John, the son of Zebedee. For the past three years I have follow the One whom I have called, “Teacher,” “Master,” and “Lord.” Just hours ago, I witnessed his cruel death: His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, His Arrest, His Scourging. I watched Him carry His Cross all the way to Golgotha, where He died after spending three hours suffering upon its wood.
I have witnessed the death of my Lord and God, and my best friend. Scripture says that “a true friend is more faithful than a brother.” My best friend, Jesus of Nazareth – the Son of God, lives out this passage to the fullest.
I remember the first time I met Him.
John the Baptist, my teacher, had sent me to Him, along with my fellow disciple Andrew.
Jesus’ words and appearance were simple; but they reflected an inner holiness that could not be paralleled. Andrew and I were mesmerized by His kind voice, His compassionate message, and His loving smile.
“Rabbi,” we asked Him, “Where are you staying?” And He showed us, and from that day forward, we followed Him. I knew without hesitation, that this man was worth leaving everything for – I knew that He was the Son of God.
I traveled with Him and 11 of my fellow Apostles all over Judea and Galilee. We 12 were His closest friends. But, being the youngest one, I often felt alone. These other men had given up wives and children to follow Him. All I had given up was fishing!
But, so many times, He took me off to the side, so as to reassure me.
“John,” He spoke to me gently, “You worry too much.”
“Come,” He said, patting me on the shoulder, “Follow me.”
Still, I would often wonder whether I was worthy to have a place among the 12; but, I knew without a doubt that He was God Himself. My Love for Him held me captive, so that I could never leave Him, yet I never desired to.
I followed Him to Mt. Tabor, to pray with Him. It was only Peter, James, and I. When we saw Him, in all of His Splendor with Moses and Elijah, I knew He was imparting us with a great secret.
He trusted us three, it seemed, above all the others. We three were with Him in the Garden the night before He died, as He prostrated Himself in prayer.
Yet, when they came to take Him away, all of them abandoned Him: Peter denied Him three times; Judas Iscariot betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver; and even my brother James, along with Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, and Jude – they fled when He was taken away.
I alone, of the 12, remained with Him to the end. And how could I have? I had not abandoned Him before; my heart, my very soul was His. I could not abandon my God and my friend to face His Death alone!
So, I stood there, at the foot of His Cross, holding His Mother as she cried great tears of despair and suffering. And He said to her, “Woman, behold your son.” And then, turning to me, He spoke – ever so gently, “Behold, your mother.”
And how is it, that the Mother of My Lord should come to me?
I thought that there had to be some mistake – that she should stay with Peter, or with her nephew James. I was not reluctant; I was merely stunned. But now, I see what He must’ve seen in me at that moment.
He had trusted me so much, in showing me His True Self, that now – He was once again calling on that trust, on that loyalty. This was a task of responsibility, not a burden. He saw that my heart was so bound to His that I would do whatever He should ask, merely out of LOVE.
So, Lord, I hope You may count me as Your Friend. From this moment forward, I will take Your Mother – My Mother – into my home and into my heart.
I will do as You have done. I will lay down my life for My Friend.
I will lay down my life for You.