Lectio Divina: St. John the Apostle
1) Opening prayer
Lord God, You are Love itself.
We know that You loved us first
before we could ever love You.
Let this unforgettable experience
of Your “beloved disciple” John
become also our deep and lasting experience.
May the love You have shown us
in Your Son Jesus Christ
move us to love You very deeply in return
and overflow to all those we meet in life.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – John 20: 2-8
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” she said, “and we don't know where they have put Him.”
So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in.
Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying on the ground and also the cloth that had been over His head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed.
• Today’s Gospel presents to us the passage of the Gospel of John which speaks about the Beloved Disciple. This text was probably chosen to read and meditate on today, the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, because of the identification that we all make of the Beloved Disciple with the apostle John. But the strange thing is, in no passage of the Gospel of John is it said that the beloved disciple is John. From the earliest times of the Church, the identification of the two has always been assumed. This is why, in insisting that the two (John and the Beloved Disciple) are the same, we run the risk of losing a very important aspect of the message of the Gospel in regard to the Beloved Disciple.
• In the Gospel of John, the Beloved Disciple represents the new community which is born around Jesus. We find the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the cross, together with Mary, the mother of Jesus (Jn 19:26). Mary represents the people of the Old Covenant. At the end of the first century, the time in which the final version of the Gospel of John was compiled, there was a growing conflict between the Synagogue and the Church. Some Christians wanted to abandon the Old Testament and keep only the New Testament. At the foot of the Cross, Jesus says: “Woman, behold your son!” and to the Beloved Disciple: “Son, behold your mother!” Both must remain together as mother and son. To separate the Old Testament from the New in that time was what we would call today a separation between faith (NT) and life (OT).
• In the Gospel today, Peter and the Beloved Disciple, informed by the witness of Mary Magdalene, ran together toward the Holy Sepulcher. The young one runs faster than the elderly one and reaches the tomb first. He looks inside the tomb, observes everything, but does not enter. He allows Peter to enter first. Here is the way in which the Gospel describes the reaction of the two men to what both of them see: “He entered and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, he saw and he believed”. Both of them saw the same thing, but this is said only of the Beloved Disciple that he believed: “Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, he saw and he believed”. Why? Is it that Peter did not believe? Or is it to juxtapose Peter’s belief with the other’s new-found awareness?
• The Beloved Disciple looks and sees in a different way. He has a loving look which recognizes the presence of the uniqueness of Jesus. The morning after that night of working, looking for fish and then the miraculous catch of fish, it is he, the Beloved Disciple, who recognizes the presence of Jesus and says: “It is the Lord!” (Jn 21:7). On that occasion, Peter, informed by the assertion of the Beloved Disciple, also recognizes and begins to understand. Peter learns from the Beloved Disciple. Then Jesus asks three times: “Peter, do you love Me?” (Jn 21:15, 16, 17). Three times Peter answers: “You know that I love You!” After the third time, Jesus entrusts the flock to the care of Peter, and in that moment Peter also becomes a “beloved disciple.”
4) Personal questions
• All of us who believe in Jesus are today beloved disciples. Do I have the same loving look to perceive the presence of God and to believe in his Resurrection?
• To separate the Old Testament from the New is the same thing as to separate faith and life. How do I live this today?
5) Concluding Prayer
The mountains melt like wax,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim His saving justice,
all nations see His glory. (Ps 97:5-6)