On the third day of Christmas we celebrate the feast day of St John The Evangelist, Saint John the Divine, one third of the Triumvirate along with Peter and James, one of the Boanerges (sons of thunder), traditionally represented in Christian art by the mighty eagle, and remembered most of all as THE BELOVED DISCIPLE… it seems like all day long I’ve been hearing how great John is at this or how wonderful John did that! John, John, John!
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an overreaction. After all, Msgr. Charles Pope suggests that the title of “Beloved Disciple” might not actually mean that John was Jesus’ favorite out of the original twelve apostles. “John never uses his name to refer to himself anywhere in his gospel. What is clear is that John knew and experienced that he was loved by God and that was apparently all that mattered to him in terms of his identity. This would also help to explain that this title was not an attestation that the Lord had favorites. Jesus himself does not use this title for John or any of the apostles. This is merely John’s self description of the fact that he was loved by the Lord and he knew that personally.”
But whether that’s true or not, it still seems like God favors certain people from time to time. Just consider the message delivered by the angels on the night Jesus was born, for instance. You know, the one in which they proclaim to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.” Well, that’s great, but just who are these men God is so pleased with that he bestows upon them tidings of peace? In his recent book ‘Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives’ Pope Benedict XVI believes the answer to that question might lie in the account of Jesus’ baptism. “Luke tells us that as Jesus was praying, the heavens opened and a voice came from heaven, saying: ‘You are my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased [= I have good pleasure]’ The man ‘with whom he is pleased’ is Jesus. And the reason for this is that Jesus lives completely oriented toward the Father, focused upon him and in communion of will with him. So men “with whom he is pleased” are those that share the attitude of the Son – those who are conformed to Christ.”
And that’s good to know, because it means we all have a chance to be the recipients of the angels’ message, the people with whom God is pleased. We all have a shot at being a beloved disciple. And even though we probably won’t all end up with a feast day like John, John, John, as long as we focus on conforming ourselves to Christ, things will likely turn out just like the Mr. & Mrs. Brady suggested to Jan they will. As long as we keep our eyes open and on God, opportunity will present itself. That’s when we’ll find out what we do best, and do our best with it.