St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

In today’s First Reading St. John describes his mission as the communication of an experience. As apostle and evangelist St. John, through his Gospel, his letters, and the Book of Revelation, has tried to communicate an experience difficult to put into words. Alongside the more narrative accounts, not only in his Gospel, but in the Gospels of the other evangelists, John, through images and symbols, always strove to communicate the depth and richness of an experience of God, through his Son, that led to faith and communion. In the Acts of the Apostles St. Peter described an apostle’s qualifications: someone “who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). Through their testimony and ministry the Twelve communicated an experience of Christ that drew us into “fellowship” with them and with God.

In today’s Gospel we recall, along with John, one of his most sublime experiences, and experience that changed all our lives forever. Entering the empty tomb on the day of the Resurrection, John simply says that he “saw and believed.” He saw no vision of angels, like Mary Magdalene. He didn’t witness Our Lord directly being risen from the dead. He saw an empty tomb and some linens and in faith he knew his Lord had risen. The empty tomb didn’t mean Our Lord had staged his death: John saw him die on the cross. It didn’t mean Our Lord’s body had been stolen, Mary Magdalene’s “theory.” John knew, in faith, that the empty tomb meant Our Lord had Risen. Death no longer had the last word.

We remember John at Christmastime because his love and faith in Our Lord were always young and pure, just like Our infant Lord at this birth and beyond. Let John and the other evangelists this upcoming year draw you into their experience of faith so that you to can experience afresh Our Lord’s love.

Readings: 1 John 1:1–4; Psalm 97:1–2, 5–6, 11–12; John 20:1a, 2–8. See also Easter Sunday, Mass During the Day.

St. Bartholomew, Apostle (2)

In today’s First Reading the Apostle John describes the heavenly Church, the Bride of Christ, as the heavenly Jerusalem, radiant with the light of God. The Spouse of Christ is adorned and beautiful, just was we are called to be one day with all the saints in Heaven, adorned with grace and virtue. Everyone will be an adornment in this heavenly edifice, but some of them are fundamental. The Twelve gates of the Twelve tribes of Israel remind us that the people of Israel paved the way through being the culture and People of God in which our Savior would be born: through Israel salvation began to be extended to the whole world.

Twelve was an important number to show the continuity between the old People of God founded on Sinai and the new People of God founded on the Apostles with Christ as the cornerstone. The Twelve were the bedrock on which Our Lord chose to construct his Church, including Bartholomew, whom we celebrate today. In John’s vision the Twelve were remembered as the foundation stones of the walls: thanks to their fidelity to Christ the heavenly city is safe and secure from every threat, just as even today we know the Church is safe so long as she adheres to the teaching she has received from Christ through his Apostles.

Let’s pray today to be living stones, in imitation of the Apostles, who truly help build up the Church.

Readings: Revelation 21:9b–14; Psalm 145:10–13, 17–18; John 1:45–51. See also Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels and St. Bartholomew the Apostle.

St. Matthias, Apostle

Just before Pentecost the Apostles realized that they needed to find a replacement for Judas Iscariot, and today we celebrate that replacement, St. Matthias. Throughout the Gospel they’d been the Twelve, but this number was not by chance. It represented a symbolic connection to the twelve tribes of Israel, which in turn implied a completeness of continuity on the part of the Apostles with the People of God whom the Lord had established in the Old Testament. Peter says in today’s First Reading that Judas had, “turned away to go to his own place”: he had abandoned the apostolic ministry and someone needed to take up the work that had been expected of Judas.

Peter takes the initiative and tells us what the essence of being an Apostle consists: someone who personally knew the Lord during his earthly ministry and all the way up to the Ascension. Someone who’d been with Our Lord from the beginning. Two candidates were presented, yet they didn’t just want it to be a quick campaign and a vote: after praying they cast lots to see which candidate would take Judas’ place, because in that way the Lord could make the final choice by influencing or permitting whatever lot was cast.

Like Paul, Matthias probably never expected to become an Apostle, but Our Lord has his plans. The Twelve (including their new member) and Paul fulfilled their mission. We may not be Apostles, but we have to be ready to be apostles wherever, whenever, and however Our Lord wishes. Let’s respond to the call generously.

Readings: Acts 1:15–17, 20–26; Psalm 113:1–8; John 15:9–17.

St. Andrew the Apostle

Of the Twelve apostles there were four blood brothers: Peter and Andrew, and James and John. Today in celebrating the feast of St. Andrew, St. Peter’s brother, we are also celebrating a brotherhood in the Lord that every believer dreams of for his family. In John’s Gospel it was Andrew who first met Our Lord, and then introduced him to Peter.

Having a brother who not only shares your blood, but also your faith is a blessing indeed. Even more beautiful is a brother who can help you discover your vocation. For Andrew this brotherhood in Christ went beyond his immediate family. When some Greeks wished to speak with Our Lord, they went to Andrew. Andrew represents the brotherhood between the Greek-speaking Eastern Churches and the Latin-speaking Western ones.

Let’s pray today for families to be not only families of blood, but families of faith, so that they can help each other to discover God’s plan in their lives.

Readings: Romans 10:9–18; Psalm 19:8–11; Matthew 4:18–22.

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

In today’s Gospel the story of Matthew’s call and conversion come straight from the apostle’s mouth. Matthew had the grace to not only be an apostle, but to share with us the Gospel of Our Lord through his account of the earthly life and mission of Jesus. His life took a radical turn from being a tax collector, considered a traitor by his people, to a witness of the life of Jesus.

When Our Lord tells the Pharisee’s today who were critical of his dinner company that he was sent to sinners, Matthew’s words came straight from the heart. Our Lord came to save the world, not condemn it, and we see this in the story of Matthew’s calling and in Matthew’s desire after meeting Our Lord to have his friends know him as well. He knows he doesn’t need to impress Our Lord by only introducing him to squeaky clean people; he himself didn’t fit in that category. The disciples learned this lesson too, eating alongside tax collectors and sinners, but accompanied by Our Lord.

Let’s contemplate the example of Matthew’s calling and conversion today and pray that sinners even today encounter Our Lord and turn to him for healing and mercy.

Readings: Ephesians 4:1–7, 11–13; Psalm 19:2–5; Matthew 9:9–13.