Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
In the Epistle reading for today, the Apostle recalls the opening of his Gospel. “What was from the beginning….” What was from the beginning? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) The Word, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, this is what John writes about as he goes on to say, “We have heard, we have seen, and touched.”
In other words, that whole “Immanuel, God with us” stuff that Isaiah foretold? It really happened. God was with us. We saw him, we heard him, we touched him. And now we proclaim it to you, so that you might have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Note that he did not say, “So that you may have fellowship with him,” but rather, “So that you may have fellowship with us.” The implication is that if we have fellowship with the Apostles, we will have fellowship with the Father and the Son. But it is only because of their testimony and their authority that we have that fellowship. If the Apostles had not also been witnesses, testifying about what they had heard and seen, none of us would know anything about Christ. If we lost John, we would lose a Gospel, three Epistles, and the Revelation. He is the largest author in the New Testament after Luke and Paul.
That is one of the lessons we can take from the Apostles and Evangelists: we also need to be witnesses. We need to hand on what has been entrusted to us and we need to testify to what God has done for us as individuals.
It is important for us to share our stories for two reasons. First, because it is encouraging for others to see how the Holy Spirit has worked on, in, and through people they can relate to. It is great to know that Moses parted the Red Sea and enabled Israel’s escape from Egypt. It is something else to hear how your friend managed a tough job with no other prospects, thanks to prayer and the support of others.
Second, it is good for us to share our story because in our sharing, we are reminded of God’s work in our own life. We see his guidance and provision for us. As we reflect on our life, we see how the seemingly random twists and turns are actually a road leading to a destination.
Sharing your faith journey, even if it is only with yourself, can renew your faith and give you strength to carry on. In marriage counseling, I usually ask the couple how they met. Ideally, it helps take them back to a happy time in their relationship and generates a little positive momentum for the session. Reviewing the ways God has led, wooed, and grown us can do much the same for our relationship with him.