My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, and Savior JESUS CHRIST,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
On the 8th of Mary, the Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates
the Synaxis of the Holy and Glorious Apostle and Evangelist,
JOHN THE THEOLOGIAN, THE BELOVED DISCIPLE AND
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Apostle. 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 of the Apostle. 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 Christ.
The Holy and Glorious Apostle John the Theologian, the divine Apostle and Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple of the Lord, was born in Bethsaida of Galilee. He was translated to the Lord, while preaching the word of God at Ephesos, in deep old age during the days of Emperor Trajan (8-117 A.D.). When the Blessed John was about to depart from this present life to that which is perpetual and eternal, he foreknew it by the indwelling of Divine grace. He took his disciples and went outside of the city of Ephesus. Saint John, according to Prochoros his disciple, had assembled seven of his disciples. Prochoros and six others, Saint John said to them, "Take spades in your hands and follow me." They followed him outside the city to a certain place, where he said, "Sit down." He then went a little apart from them to where it was quiet and began to pray. It was very early in the morning; the sun had not quite risen. After his prayer, he said to them, "Dig with your spades a cross-shaped trench as long as I am tall." This was done while the Evangelist prayed. After he had finished his prayer, he set himself down in the trench that had been dug. Saint John then said to Prochoros, "My son, thou shalt go to Jerusalem. That is where thou must end thy days." The Evangelist then gave them instructions and embraced them, saying, "Take some earth, my mother earth, and cover me." The Disciple embraced them again and, taking some earth, covered him only up to his knees. Once more, he embraced them, saying, "Take some more earth and cover me up to the neck." So they embraced him again and then took some more earth and covered him up to his neck. Then he said to them, "Bring a thin veil and place it on my face, and embrace me again for the last time, for you shall not see me nay longer in this life." So they, stricken with grief, embraced the Apostle again. As he was sending us off in peace, the disciples, lamenting bitterly, covered his whole body. The sun rose just then, and he surrendered his spirit.
The disciples returned to the city and were asked, "Where is your teacher?" So they explained what had just occurred in great detail. The Ephesians begged them that they show them the site. They, therefore, went back to the grave with the brethren, but Saint John was not there. Only his shoes were left behind. Then they remembered the words of the Lord to the Apostle Peter, "If I wish him to tarry while I am coming, what is that to thee?" (John 21:22). And they all glorified God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to Whom is the glory, honor, and worship, unto the ages of ages. Amen. Each year, on the 8th day of May, THE GRAVE OF THE SAINT WAS DECORATED WITH ROSES.
Saint Hippolytus, Pope of Rome, in his narration on how the Apostles departed this life, notes that Saint John "went to Ephesos and there reposed. When his holy relics were sought by the inhabitants of Ephesos, it could not be found." Saint Gregory the Theologian, in answering a question put to him by his brother Caesarius, comments: "The Great John, at the end of his Gospel, writes that the Lord said to Peter, ‘Follow thou Me.’ And Peter, having turned about, seeth the disciple, whom the Jesus loved, following–who also leaned back on His breast at the Supper–and said, "Lord, who is the one who is delivering Thee up?" After Peter saw him, he saith to Jesus, "But Lord, this man–what?" Jesus saith to him, "If I wish to tarry while I am coming, what is that to thee? Do thou be following Me." Then this saying went out among the brethren "that disciple dieth not"; and yet Jesus did not say that "he dieth not," but, "If I wish him to tarry while I am coming, what is that to thee?" (John 21:19-23). Now some use this passage as a pretext that Saint John still has not tasted death, but rather was transported live as it were Enoch and Elias. However, this is not the truth. Christ spoke enigmatically when He said, "If I wish him to tarry.." …meaning that the Lord did not intend for Peter and John to be in one another’s company to the end. Their future work would take each one to different places. The Lord also reveals here that Saint John would not die in the same manner as the other Apostles." Saint Gregory then describes to Caesarius THE FINE DUST WHICH HAS WROUGHT CURES FOR A MULTITUDE OF SUFFERERS.
Saint Bede remarks that "Jesus did not love John alone in a singular way to the exclusion of others, but He loved John beyond those whom He loved, in a more intimate way as one whom the special prerogative of chastity had made worthy of fuller love. Indeed, Jesus proved that He loved them all when before His Passion He said to them, "Even as the Father loved Me, I ALSO LOVED YOU; ABIDE IN THE LOVE, THAT WHICH IS MINE" (John 15:9). But beyond the other He loved the one who, being a virgin when chosen by Him, remained forever a virgin. Accordingly, when Christ was about to die on the Cross, He commended His Mother to John (John 19:26-27), so that the virgin might watch over the Virgin; and when He Himself Ascended to Heaven after His death and Resurrection, a son would not be lacking to His Mother whose chaste life would be protected by his chaste services." Furthermore, Saint Bede writes: "Mystically speaking, we can take these things which are predicted by the Lord to Peter and John, as designating the two ways of life in the Church which are carried out in the present, namely the active and the contemplative…Christ said this about John suggests the state OF CONTEMPLATIVE VIRTUE, which is not to be ended through death, AS THE ACTIVE LIFE IS, but after death is to be more perfectly completed with the Coming of the Lord."
We, therefore, at the empty tomb of Saint John the Theologian celebrate the Great Evangelist. He was granted Christ’s grace by which he is adorned with many wonder-workings (miracles). His tomb, yearly and to the day of this writing, in a sudden and mysterious manner, SPOUTS UP DUST. THE NATIVES HAVE NAMED THE DUST "MANNA." The dust has been called so because IT IS USED FOR DELIVERANCE AND RECOVERY FROM EVERY DISEASE. IT IS EMPLOYED FOR THE HEALTH OF BOTH SOULS AND BODIES, TO THE GLORIFICATION OF GOD AND HIS SERVANT JOHN.
The Synaxis of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John is celebrated in his august Apostolic Church, which is located at Evdomon (Hebdomon). Evdomon (lit. "seventh"; is a suburb of Constantinople, and is situated on the Sea of Marmara. The Church to the Evangelist was built before the year 400. In the years 673 and 717, Arab fleets were put in there at Hebdomon. Emperor Basil Ist (867-886 A.D.) rebuilt the churches of Saint John the Evangelist and Saint John the Baptist, which had fallen into ruin. The Evangelist’s church, thereafter, was transformed into a Monastery. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God