My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIS IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 26th of September, the Holy Orthodox Church
Commemorates the Translation (Metastasis) of the
Holy Apostle and Evangelist, who leaned on Christ’s
breast, the virgin and beloved of the Lord,
JOHN THE THEOLOGIAN.
Apolytikion Hymn (Dismissal Hymn). Second Tone
O APOSTLE, beloved of Christ our God, hasten to deliver a
defenseless people. He that allowed thee to recline on His
breast, receiveth thee bowing in intercession. Implore Him,
O Theologian, to dispel the persistent cloud of the heathen,
and ask for us His peace and great mercy.
Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone
WHO can tell thy mighty works, O virgin Saint? For thou pourest
forth miracles, and art a source of healings, and thou dost
intercede for our souls, as the Theologian and the friend of
John the Evangelist and Holy Apostle and beloved Disciple was the son of Zebedee and Salome, the daughter of Joseph the Betrothed. Joseph the Betrothed also had four sons, Iakovos, Joses, Jude, and Symeon, with three daughters, Esther, Martha, and the aforementioned Salome. John, too, was called away from his fisherman’s nets to preach the Gospel when our Lord Jesus Christ, walking along the Sea of Galilee, chose His Apostles from among the fishermen. He had already summoned the two brothers, Iakovos and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were mending their nets in a boat with their father, and called them also. Straightway abandoning their boat and their father, they followed after Jesus Christ.
At the very time of his calling, John was called “son of thunder” by the Lord, for his theology would be heard like thunder throughout the world and would fill the whole earth. John followed after his Blessed Teacher, learning the wisdom that proceeded from His Divine lips; and he was well-loved of Christ his Lord for his utter lack of guile and his virginal purity. The Lord honored him as the fairest of the Twelve Apostles, and he was one of Christ’s three closest Disciples, to whom the Lord revealed His Divine mysteries many times. Thus, when He intended to raise up the daughter of Jairos, He permitted none to accompany Him, save Peter, Iakovos, and John. When He prayed in the garden, there also He was not without John, for He said to His Disciples, ‘Sit here, while I depart and pray there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [Matthew 26:36-37]. that is, Iakovos and John. Also, when He desired to show forth the Glory of His Divinity on Mount Tabor, He likewise took only Peter, Iakovos, and John.
As the Beloved Disciples of the Master, John WAS NEVER SEPARATED FROM CHRIST. And Christ’s great love for him is evident in the fact that John rested his head on His breast. For, at the Mystical Supper, when the Lord followed His betrayal and the Disciples gazed at each other in bewilderment, wondering of whom He spoke, John rested his head upon the breast of his beloved Master, as he himself relates in his Gospel: “Now there was one of His Disciples reclining on the bosom of Jesus, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter, therefore, nodded to this one to inquire who it may be about whom He speaketh. And that one, having leaned on the breast of Jesus, saith to Him, ‘Lord, who is it’ (John 13:23-25]. The Lord so loved John that only he was able freely to rest his head upon the Lord’s breast and to ask Him boldly of this secret. John also showed a reciprocal love for his beloved Teacher, greater than that of the other Apostles, for at the time of Christ’s VOLUNTARY SUFFERING, they ALL FLED, FORSAKING THEIR Shepherd. He ALONE REMAINED TO WITNESS ALL THE TORMENTS OF CHRIST, SUFFERING WITH HIM IN HIS HEART, WEEPING AND LAMENTING WITH THE ALL-PURE VIRGIN MARY THE MOTHER OF THE LORD. Together, THEY DID NOT LEAVE THE SIDE OF THE SON OF GOD WHO SUFFERED FOR US, UNTIL THE SAVIOR’S DEATH UPON THE CROSS; FOR THIS CAUSE HE WAS GIVEN BY THE LORD, AS SON, TO THE ALL-PURE VIRGIN MARY. “Then Jesus, having seen His Mother and the Disciple whom He loved standing by, saith to His Mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son.’ Then He saith to the Disciple, ‘Behold, thy Mother.’ And he regarded her s his own mother and served her with much respect.
When the lands of the earth were divided among the Apostles, John was downcast when he chose the last lot, that of Asia Minor, and uttered three sighs. With tears, he fell prostrated on the ground and made reverence to all the Apostles. Peter then took him by the hand and raised him up, saying, “we all have thee as a father and thy patient endurance for our support. Why hast thou troubled us with this thine action and confused our hearts?” John answered, weeping and groaning bitterly, “I have sinned, brethren; for this hour I have seen that grave perils lie before me in the sea; for, just as the lot of Asia fell to me, I received it with great heaviness, failing to call to mind out Lord Who said, ‘A hair of your head in no wise shall perish’ [Luke 21:18]. For not one hair is lost without God’s permission. I beseech you, therefore, beloved brethren, pray on my behalf before the Lord, that He forgive me this sin!” Then all of the Apostles stood facing the East and asked Iakovos, the brother of the Lord (Adelfotheos), to offer up a supplication. When this was done, they all took their turn, according to seniority, and embraced one another, and then each departed in peace with his assigned lot, and each was assigned an Apostle of the Seventy as a helper.
The Apostle John, however, did not immediately repair to Asia Minor but cared for the Theotokos until her honored and glorious repose. On the day when the Apostles took up her Precious and Holy body to bury it. Saint John went before her bier with a Royal Scepter which shone with light, which the Archangel Gabriel had given the All-Pure Virgin when announcing her TRANSLATION (METASTASIS) FROM EARTH TO HEAVEN.
The following was recorded by Saint Prochoros, one of the Seven Deacons [Acts 6:5], concerning the holy Apostle and Evangelist, the beloved John the Theologian.
The Holy Apostle John in Rome
At that time Domitian, Emperor of Rome, raised a great persecution against the Christians, and John was slandered before him. The Prefect of Asia, having arrested the holy one, sent him bound to Caesar in Rome, where John first had to endure beatings for his confession of Christ, and afterward was COMPELLED TO DRINK A CUP FULL OF DEADLY POISON. But when, in accordance with the Lord’s words, “If they should drink anything deadly, in no wise shall it harm them” [Mark 16:18], he received no harm from it, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, yet emerged unscathed. Then cried the people, “Great is the God of the Christians!” Caesar, not daring to torture John further, considered him immortal and sentenced him to exile on the Greek island of Patmos, as the Lord had told John in a dream. “Thou shalt suffer much, and shalt be exiled to a certain island, which shall be much to thy benefit.”
The Writings of the Holy Apostle
By the grace and aid of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the divinely-inspired words of Saint John and the great signs and wonders which God wrought, nearly all the inhabitants of the island of Patmos came to believe. At that time, Emperor Domitian was assassinated, who had exiled us to the island of Patmos, a penal colony. After him, the Roman throne was occupied by Nerva, who did not prevent the preaching of Christ, nor did he persecute those who believed in Him. This younger Emperor had received a favorable report concerning St. John, and with the Senate’s annulment of Domitian’s acts, his sentence was lifted, and he was free to go wherever he desired. Saint John saw that nearly all the natives believed in Christ, and so he decided to return to Ephesos. The faithful learned of this and gathered around us, says Saint Prochoros, begging him with fervent tears not to leave them. In addition, they begged him saying, “we beseech you to hand down to us in writing an account of the incarnation and dispensation of God, that we may meditate upon it always and remain steadfast and immovable in the Faith.” Insisting that they would not get up off the ground until he yielded to their request. The Apostle was greatly moved by their tears, and said, ‘Mu children, go to your houses, and by the command of the Lord your pious request will be met.’ He then blessed them, and each returned to his own home.
“John then took me, and we went outside the city, about one mile, to a quiet place called Katapavsis (‘Cessation’). We ascended a high mountain where we spend three days. John passed the time in fasting and prayer, supplicating God to grant the Gospel to the faithful brethren. On the third day, he said to me, ‘Prochoros my child, go into the city and fetch ink and paper, and bring them here.’ So I went into the city to carry out this order and returned. He then said to me, ‘Take the paper and ink, child, and stand to the right of me.’ And I did as I was told. Suddenly, a great clap of thunder sounded, lightning flashed, and the mountain shook. Overcome by fear, I fell on the ground as one dead. John extended his hand and raised me up, saying, ‘Sit to my right.’ He then returned to prayer, after which he said to me, “Prochoros my son, that which thou shalt hear from my mouth, record it on paper.’ Standing with his eyes toward heaven, he opened his mouth, and said, “In the beginning was the Logos/Word, and the Logos/Word was with God, and the Logos/Word was God…” [John 1:1]. Saint John wrote his Gospel (after the other Evangelists had already written theirs) and his three Catholic Epistles. At Patmos, he wrote the Book of Apocalypse (Revelation). He was called THEOLOGIAN because he loftily expounded in his Gospel the theology of the inexpressible and eternal birth of the Son and Logos/Word of God the Father. It is for this cause that an EAGLE–a symbol of the gift of the Holy Spirit, as Saint Irenaeus says–is depicted in his icon, for this was one of the FOUR SYMBOLIC LIVING CREATURES that the Prophet Ezekiel saw [Ezekiel 1:10].
The Repose of Saint John the Theologian
Saint John came out of the house of Domnos and assembled seven of his disciples–myself and six others–and said to us, ‘Take spades in your hands and follow me.’ So we did as we were instructed and followed him outside the city to a certain place, where he said, ‘Sit down.’ He then went a little apart from us to where it was quiet and began to pray. After his prayer, he said to us, ‘Dig with your spades a cross-shaped trench as long as I am tall.’ So we did it while he prayed. After he had finished his prayer, he laid himself in the trench we had dug. Then he said to us, ‘Bring a thin veil and place it on my face, and embrace me again for the last time, for you shall not see me any longer in this life. So we embrace the holy Apostle grief-stricken. As he was sending us off in peace, we, lamenting bitterly, covered his whole body. The sun rose just then, and he surrendered his spirit. He was over a hundred years old when he went to the Lord. When his disciples later opened his grave, they found that his body was not there. After a long and fruitful life of labor upon earth, this beloved Disciple of Christ and Pillar of the Church entered into the joy of his Lord, to peace and eternal rejoicing. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God