Image: “St. John the Evangelist”, (Vladimir Borovikovsky, c.1804-09)
“Then He said to the Disciple – ‘Behold your Mother’. And from that hour the Disciple took Her into his home.”
Scripture tells us somethings about the person of Saint John the Beloved Disciple, and Tradition teaches us a few others things besides. All of it can be summarised fairly briefly – John was the brother of St James, and the Lord called them ‘the sons of thunder’; at the Last Supper, John rested his head close to the Heart of Jesus; and at the foot of the Cross, the Lord told His Mother to take John as Her son, and told John to take the Blessed Virgin as his Mother; much later, exiled on the island of Patmos, he would write the Book of Revelation; and unlike the other Apostles, John would not die a martyr.
Two of these facts have always deeply intrigued me.
The first is the image of John resting his head upon the chest of the Lord in the Upper Room; this is such an intimate moment, one which says a lot about the love of the Lord for the Apostles generally, and in particular for John. It is a very human moment, one that is very touching and consoling – Our Lord has great love for us and bids us be close to Him.
The second is the command that John should take the Mother of the Lord into his home. As He is dying upon the Cross, the Lord ensures His Mother will be lovingly looked-after; both She and John wordlessly assent to this command. I often wonder what words passed between them that night, after the crowds had all left Golgotha, and in all the days that followed. I have no doubt that John loved the Blessed Virgin deeply, and that love could only have deepened as the years moved forward. I wonder, too, what stories She told John about the earlier years of Her Son?
Perhaps, with these two brief facts in mind, it is no real surprise that Saint John has always been so greatly popular throughout the history of the Christian faith – after all, who would not wish to rest close to the beating Heart of the Lord, and to have a deep, filial love for the Blessed Virgin?