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. Luke, Evangelist

In Luke’s Gospel, alongside the account of the Twelve being sent out, he speaks of Seventy-Two being sent out by Our Lord with a very similar mandate. Luke probably identified with the Seventy-Two; the needs of the Gospel were expanding and more help was needed. As today’s First Reading reminds us, Luke accompanied the apostle Paul in some of his missionary work. In the Acts of the Apostles, written by St. Luke, the narrative switches from speaking about Paul to speaking about where “we” were and what “we” did. Luke never imagined the special collaboration he would have with the Apostles: he was not just a co-worker, he was an evangelist.

He was probably a second or third generation Christian, so while he lived at the same time as the Apostles, he also knew the Church would continue after their passing. In addition to recalling the life of Our Lord in his Gospel he left us the Acts of the Apostles to see how the Apostles carried on Our Lord’s mission after his Ascension, spurred on by the Holy Spirit. He was well aware that soon his generation would carry on the mission, just as the Apostles had done.

Luke reminds us on his feast day that just because we’ve come after the first generations of Christians doesn’t mean we should be less engaged in continuing Our Lord’s mission. Luke was not an optional evangelist, and he even went beyond the evangelist mandate by giving us the Acts of the Apostles. Let’s ask him to help us see how we can bring the Church’s work of evangelization forward.

Readings: 2 Timothy 4:10–17b; Psalm 145:10–13, 17–18; Luke 10:1–9.

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.