St.John, the Apostle


1 John 1:1-4
John 20:2-8


Today’s readings, marking the feast of St John, apostle and evangelist, focus on testimony.  Testimony, from the Latin ‘testis’, a witness, or ‘one who has seen’, is the act of passing on to others what we have witnessed. The first reading, from the first letter of John, emphasizes a testimony based on seeing, hearing and touching, on rich experience of what it bears witness to.  This testimony is so precious because it concerns the Word of life: that the invisible God, the Word who himself testifies to the Father, was made flesh.  Testimony is for the sake of fellowship, of passing on witness to all generations of believers, so that we may share in the joy of knowing that ‘the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us’.    The same theme of testimony is dramatically conveyed in the reading from chapter 20 of John’s Gospel.  The dramatis personae are three of the most important witnesses to the Risen Christ: Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, and the disciple whom Jesus loved (a key figure in John’s Gospel).  The passage conveys the sorrow and consternation of Mary, and the eagerness of Simon Peter and the beloved disciple, who ‘saw and believed’.  Soon Mary and Peter will encounter Jesus not in his absence from the tomb but in his presence as the risen Lord.  Psalm 97 joyfully expresses this testimony to the risen Lord, ‘whose kingship will have no end’ and whose throne is founded on ‘justice and judgement’.  

Robert Gascoigne is a parishioner at St Brigid’s, Marrickville.  He is a theologian who taught for many years at the Australian Catholic University.