On the 26th of September, we celebrated the holy Apostle and Evangelist John. He was born in Bethsaida of Galilee to Zebedee and Salome. Before the Savior called him and his brother, James, to the apostolate, he was a disciple of St John the Baptist. “The disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21.20) proved his love for his God by following Him all the time, from the most uplifting moments, such as the Transfiguration, to the saddest ones like the Mystical Supper and the Crucifixion.
The holy Apostle and Evangelist John, or the “Apostle of Love,” fulfilled the Lord’s most precious commandment: love. The Blessed Hieronymus tells us how St John, having reached old age, the age of helplessness, asked to be taken to all Christian meetings, and instead of long speeches, he contented himself with always repeating, “Little children, love one another!” Asked why he ceaselessly said these words, he replied, “This is the Lord’s commandment, and if you keep it, it is enough.”
All this is evident in the writings of the saint. We will recount a few words from his first epistle—a living testimony of the love he preached and lived.
“Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. … He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because that darkness has blinded his eyes. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it: but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2.7–11; 15–17).
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain, who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Do not be marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps his commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (John 3.1–3; 10–24).
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4.7–21).
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5.1–3).