We hear God’s living word in all the Scriptures but the testimony of the disciple whom Jesus loved has special power for those whom God calls into this Society. It gives us joy to know that Jesus drew this man John to himself in order to enjoy the blessings of close friendship. We believe that through our religious vocation Jesus is drawing us also into the deepest intimacy with himself. We find a profound significance for our own lives in what the fourth gospel tells us of the beloved disciple’s friendship with Jesus and his call to be a witness to the mystery of the incarnation.
This is the man whom Jesus wanted to have closest to his heart at the last supper. The image of the trusted friend lying close to the breast of Jesus is an icon of the relationship we enjoy with the Son of God through prayer. It is by being close to him that we are reunited with the Father, for Jesus is “God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart.” And contemplating the closeness of the disciple to Jesus at the supper can deepen our awareness that the communion we have with Christ in the Eucharist is no mere abstract idea but a real and growing bond of personal love.
The beloved disciple did not hide from the suffering of Christ at Golgotha but took his stand there with Mary. By being steadfast together at the cross, enduring all that others found unbearable, they remained in Jesus’ love. If we abide in that perfect love shown on the cross we will receive the grace to face together all that we are tempted to run from in fear. Christ’s gift of enduring love will be the heart of our life as a community, as it was in the new family which he called into being from the cross when he gave Mary and John to one another as mother and son.
Only love can understand what God gives and reveals through Jesus. The beloved disciple understood that the pouring out of water and blood from Jesus’ side signified the giving of the Spirit. Love will open our eyes to the Spirit’s power in the sacraments, in prayer, in action and service. He went into the empty tomb, and believed at once in the mystery of the resurrection. Love will make us men of faith who know God’s power to bring life out of death. The beloved disciple recognized the Lord in the stranger by the shore. Love will expand our ability to know him in all persons, in all things and in all places.
The beloved disciple lived on, faithful to Christ’s call to “remain until I come.” The years spent exploring the depths of the revelation in which he had taken part bore fruit in the great gospel which bears the name of John. We have taken this name to show that we too are Christ’s friends and witnesses. Through us also many come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and through believing have life in his name.