By: L P Enad
IN HIS COMMENTARY on the Gospel of St. John, St. Thomas Aquinas explains, with words that seem too brief for such important things, why St. John the Beloved is more beloved as to receive distinction compared to the other disciples, why he is the αγαπητός -Agapetos. St. Thomas tells us that it is because of his youth, his chastity, and his wisdom.
Youth. St. John is more beloved because compared to the other disciples, he is younger. The significance of this seems to be in what it means to be youthful. Perhaps this means that St. John, like many young people is passionate, enthusiastic, and tireless –not for just for anything but for God. He has been a disciple of St. John the Baptist before he became a disciple of the Lord. This seems to show that he has already been searching for God until our Lord called him.
Chastity. St. Thomas goes on to explain that when St. John was called, he was a virgin and he remained so. Setting aside the sexualized and devalued idea the world has of virginity, virginity here means that Our Lord was the first love and the only love of St. John. His heart beats only for our Lord and no other. He was young and could have had many opportunities and love affairs with countless women but he chose to abandon all those so as to give himself to Our Lord to the maximum, so that he can give his heart only to our Lord and no other.
Wisdom. It is not disputed how, compared to the other gospels, the gospel of St. John seems to be more philosophical. In his life we see that he has been searching for truth -from being a disciple of St. John the Baptist to being a disciple of Our Lord. It seems that he has been searching for our Lord, it seems that he is passionate about the Truth. This Truth, however, is not a mere adequation but is the Eternal Truth –our Lord Jesus Christ. He tries to contemplate our Lord, he wants to contemplate the Truth.
What does this mean to us? Perhaps it could inspire us to work tirelessly for our Lord, to be youthful, to tirelessly give yourself for the salvation of souls. Perhaps this could lead us to love God very much, to remove from ourselves any attachments, habits, distractions that make it difficult for us to Love our Lord to the maximum. Perhaps this could lead us to guard and watch out for mortal sin because mortal sin makes us incapable of Charity. Perhaps this can lead us to study so as to encounter the Truth. Perhaps this could lead us to pursue the contemplative life with more vigor in whatever state of life we are in –yes, we all have to contemplative! Perhaps you, the young man or woman reading this could consider a vocation to the religious life, to give yourself to Our Lord. This very rich teaching St. Thomas gave us can bring forth so many things for our edification, and more importantly, for our salvation. But if there’s one thing I want you, dear readers, to remember and if there’s a way to summarize all this, it would be this: the Love of God. St. John loved our Lord so much that he was always youthful. He loved our Lord so much that he loved no one else. He loved our Lord so much that he tried to encounter him in his study. May you be as youthful, as chaste, and as wise, as St. John. True enough, these things are easier said than done –that is if we rely only in our efforts. Ask our Lord, however, to give you the grace –that you may be youthful, that you may be chaste, that you may be wise, that you may love him very much, that you may love him to the point of standing beside him and his mother as he hangs dying in the cross, that you may love our Lord like St. John See how epic and how beyond-your-imagination the results would be. The love St. John had for our Lord made him work tirelessly, enthusiastically, youthfully, the love of St. John for our Lord made him give himself entirely without reservation to Our Lord. His love for Jesus made him seek him and encounter him and contemplate him.
It is interesting to note how the same adjective used to say that Jesus is the beloved Son is used to say that St. John is the beloved (αγαπητός) –taking into account how Greeks have many words for love. May God be your αγαπητός (agapetos/ beloved) and may you be the αγαπητός of God!
Lance Patrick Enad y Caballero is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cebu. Instaurare omnia in Christo! email@example.com