Today’s Gospel: John 20:1a and 2-8 – Feast of St. John, Apostle and evangelist
I love the details embedded in this gospel. John is meticulous about bringing us into the scene on Easter morning: we witness his race against Peter, the position of the burial cloths, and who went into the tomb first. It is, of course, important to note that John, despite being the Beloved Disciple and beating Peter to the tomb, still stopped and waited for the head of the church before going inside. John knew who was in charge, and reinforces that in his gospel.
But perhaps more importantly is John’s personal testimony of faith at the end of this passage. “He saw and believed.” When John wrote his gospel, it was likely towards the end of his life; he was the only apostle not to have been martyred (although miraculous preservation from an attempt to boil him in oil gets him honorary martyr status.) He was getting old, and the men he had spent three crazy, beautiful years with had died for their faith one at a time. John was likely one of the last in the Christian community to remember Jesus personally. He records here for us the moment at which he came to believe in Christ’s resurrection, the keystone of the Christian faith.
In a moment of utter darkness, hoping against hope that someday, maybe, he would see his beloved Master again, John saw an empty tomb. He didn’t need an encounter with an angel or a face-to-face meeting with Jesus in the garden. All he needed to see was some neatly folded laundry, and he believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. He saw, and believed, and wrote it down so we could see and believe too.
What is my faith based on? Do I need to see miracles, or do I believe in God’s love for me because of the way I experience His love for me in the basics of everyday life?
Jesus, thank You for preparing the heart of St. John for an abiding and radical belief in You. When I start to fear I have lost sight of You, remind me of John’s witness in the empty tomb.
Copyright 2019 Rebecca Willen
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