John must have wondered why he, alone of all the disciples of Jesus, was spared a martyr’s death. His brother, James, was the first to die. Peter died. Along with John, they were the three to witness the transfiguration. We can imagine that John received the news of each martyrdom, the painful word carried by friends and supporters.
“Little children, let us love one another.”
John was not killed, but neither was he spared suffering. He was imprisoned on Patmos, and we do not know what he endured there. But, he survived and went on to become the Bishop of Ephesus (in what we now know as Turkey). There, he lived with the Virgin Mary until her assumption into heaven.
Perhaps he was spared to give his eyewitness account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps he was spared to follow Jesus’ exhortation from the cross that he care for Mary as his own mother. Perhaps he was spared to give us all a model for a good priest and bishop.
The story that is told of John is one to carry and remember and live. It is said that he was known for preaching the same homily, over and over, day after day, “Little children, let us love one another.”
A delegation from the church came to ask him, please, to preach a new lesson.
John is said to have replied, “Of course, as soon as we learn this one.”
Make some St. John’s wine and serve it to friends tonight. It’s easy. Just take one bottle of red wine and pour it into a saucepan. Add these spices: 2 whole cloves, 2 2” sticks of cinnamon, 1 cardamom seed, and ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Boil the wine and spices for about 5 minutes. Strain the wine and serve hot. Toast each other with the traditional toast of the day, “I give you the love of St. John.”