St. John is called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue he had learned from his Divine Master, and which he constantly inculcated by word and example. The "beloved disciple" died at Ephesus, where a stately church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque.
John is credited with the authorship of three epistles and one Gospel, although many scholars believe that the final editing of the Gospel was done by others shortly after his death. He is also supposed by many to be the author of the book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse, although this identification is less certain.
Some modern scholars have raised the possibility that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, and John of Patmos were three separate individuals. Certain lines of evidence suggest that John of Patmos wrote Revelation, but neither the Gospel of John nor the Epistles of John. For one, the author of Revelation identifies himself as "John" several times, but the author of the Gospel of John never identifies himself directly. Roman Catholic scholars state that "vocabulary, grammar, and style make it doubtful that the book could have been put into its present form by the same person(s) responsible for the fourth gospel." This is an area of ongoing scholarly debate.
In the Bible
John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Greater. The Eastern Orthodox tradition gives his mother's name as Salome. They originally were fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake of Genesareth. He was first a disciple of John the Baptist and later one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.
John held a prominent position in the Apostolic body. He is frequently mentioned with his brother, James. Jesus referred to the pair collectively as "Boanerges" translated "sons of thunder." John survived James by more than half a century after James became the first apostle to die a martyr's death. Peter, James and John were the only witnesses of the raising of Jairus' daughter,[Mk. 5:37] of the Transfiguration[Mt. 17:1] and of the Agony in Gethsemane.[Mt 26:37] John and his brother wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan town, but were rebuked by Jesus. [Lk 9:51-6] Only he and Peter were sent into the city to make the preparation for the final Passover meal (the Last Supper).[Lk 22:8] At the meal itself, his place may have been next to Jesus on whose chest he leaned if he is indeed the "disciple whom Jesus loved." However, this can not be concluded with certainty.[Jn 13:23-25] According to the general interpretation, John was also that "other disciple" who with Peter followed Jesus after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest.[Jn 18:15] John alone remained near Jesus at the foot of the cross on Calvary with Jesus’ mother, Mary, and the pious women and took Mary into his care as the last legacy of Jesus.[Jn 19:25-27]
Russian Orthodox icon of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, 18th century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia).
After Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, John, together with Peter, took a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the church. He is with Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple.[Ac 3:1 et seq.] With Peter he is also thrown into prison.[Acts 4:3] He is also with Peter visiting the newly converted in Samaria.[Acts 8:14]
There is no positive information in the Bible (or elsewhere) concerning the duration of this activity in Judea. Apparently, John in common with the other Apostles remained some 12 years in this first field of labor, until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire. [cf. Ac 12:1-17] It does not appear improbable that John then went for the first time into Asia Minor . In any case a messianic community was already in existence at Ephesus before Paul's first labors there (cf. "the brethren"),[Acts 18:27] in addition to Priscilla and Aquila. Such a sojourn by John in Asia in this first period was neither long nor uninterrupted. He returned with the other disciples to Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council (about AD 51). Paul, in opposing his enemies in Galatia, recalls that John explicitly along with Peter and James the Just were referred to as "pillars of the church" and refers to the recognition that his Apostolic preaching of a gospel free from Jewish Law received from these three, the most prominent men of the messianic community at Jerusalem.[Gal 2:9]
Of the other New Testament writings, it is only from the three Letters of John and the Book of Revelation that anything further might be learned about John, if we assume that he was the author of these books. From the Letters and Revelation we may suppose that John belonged to the multitude of personal eyewitnesses of the life and work of Jesus (cf. especially 1 Jn 1:1-5; 4:14), that he had lived for a long time in Asia Minor, was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions existing in the various messianic communities there, and that he had a position of authority recognized by all messianic communities as leader of this part of the church. Moreover, the Book of Revelation says that its author was on the island of Patmos "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus", when he was honored with the vision contained in Revelation.[Rev. 1:9]
Though most scholars agree in placing the Gospel of John somewhere between AD 65 and 85, John A.T. Robinson proposes an initial edition by 50–55 and then a final edition by 65 due to narrative similarities with Paul.:pp.284,307 Other critical scholars are of the opinion that John was composed in stages (probably two or three).:p.43
Until the 19th century, the authorship of the Gospel of John had universally been attributed to the Apostle John. However, critical scholars since then have had their doubts. The Gospel does not make that attribution. Instead, authorship is internally credited to the disciple whom Jesus loved ("ο μαθητης ον ηγαπα ο Ιησους") in John 20:2. The term the Beloved Disciple ("ον εφιλει ο Ιησους") is used five times in the Gospel of John to indicate authorship. John 21:24 claims that the Gospel of John is based on the written testimony of the "Beloved Disciple".
Byzantine illumination depicting John dictating to his disciple, Prochorus (c. 1100).
Roman Catholic tradition states that after the Assumption, John went to Ephesus and from there wrote the three epistles traditionally attributed to him. John was allegedly banished by the Roman authorities to the Greek island of Patmos, where some believe that he wrote the Book of Revelation. According to Tertullian (in The Prescription of Heretics) John was banished (presumably to Patmos) after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering nothing from it. It is said that all in the entire Colosseum audience were converted to Christianity upon witnessing this miracle. This event would have occurred during the reign of Domitian, a Roman emperor who was known for his persecution of Christians in the late 1st century.
When John was aged, he trained Polycarp who later became Bishop of Smyrna. This was important because Polycarp was able to carry John's message to future generations. Polycarp taught Irenaeus, and passed on to him stories about John. In Against Heresies, Irenaeus relates how Polycarp told a story of
It is traditionally believed that John survived his contemporary apostles and lived to an extreme old age, dying naturally at Ephesus in about AD 100. John's traditional tomb is thought to be located at Selçuk, a small town in the vicinity of Ephesus.
In art, John as the presumed author of the Gospel is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the height he rose to in the first chapter of his gospel. In Orthodox icons, he is often depicted looking up into heaven and dictating his Gospel (or the Book of Revelation) to his disciple, traditionally named Prochorus.
The traditional tomb of St. John at Ephesus, Turkey.
He is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion who commemorate him as "John, Apostle and Evangelist" on December 27.
The Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite commemorate the "Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian" on September 26. On May 8 they celebrate the "Feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian", on which date Christians used to draw forth from his grave fine ashes which were believed to be effective for healing the sick.
Until 1960, another feast day which appeared in the General Roman Calendar is that of "St John Before the Latin Gate" on May 6, celebrating a tradition recounted by Jerome that St John was brought to Rome during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, and was thrown in a vat of boiling oil, from which he was miraculously preserved unharmed. A church (San Giovanni a Porta Latina) dedicated to him was built near the Latin gate of Rome, the traditional scene of this event.
Cardinal Ranjith: Powerful Letter on the Usus Antiquior and Reform of the Liturgical Reform
I wish to express first of all, my gratitude to all of you for the zeal and enthusiasm with which you promote the cause of the restoration of the true liturgical traditions of the Church.
As you know, it is worship that enhances faith and its heroic realization in life. It is the means with which human beings are lifted up to the level of the transcendent and eternal: the place of a profound encounter between God and man.
Liturgy for this reason can never be what man creates. For if we worship the way we want and fix the rules ourselves, then we run the risk of recreating Aaron's golden calf. We ought to constantly insist on worship as participation in what God Himself does, else we run the risk of engaging in idolatry. Liturgical symbolism helps us to rise above what is human to what is divine. In this, it is my firm conviction that the Vetus Ordo represents to a great extent and in the most fulfilling way that mystical and transcendent call to an encounter with God in the liturgy. Hence the time has come for us to not only renew through radical changes the content of the new Liturgy, but also to encourage more and more a return of the Vetus Ordo, as a way for a true renewal of the Church, which was what the Fathers of the Church seated in the Second Vatican Council so desired.
The careful reading of the Conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilum shows that the rash changes introduced to the Liturgy later on, were never in the minds of the Fathers of the Council.
Hence the time has come for us to be courageous in working for a true reform of the reform and also a return to the true liturgy of the Church, which had developed over its bi-millenial history in a continuous flow. I wish and pray that, that would happen.
May God bless your efforts with success.