The Feast of the Saints of the Society of St. John the Evangelist
II Corinthians 6:1-10 and John 13: 12-17
This is a well-placed feast. Today we remember the saints of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, our forebears in this community whose faithfulness to their calling has made it possible for us to be here today. Today this feast occurs on the day before Thanksgiving. What could be more appropriate than for us to express our profound gratitude for these Brothers in the faith?
“As servants of God [they] have commended [themselves] in every way,” to use the language of St. Paul. Certainly they endured “afflictions and hardships.” They demonstrated “patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, [and] truthful speech.” They were held “in honor and dishonor,” “in ill repute and good repute.” Like Paul and his companions in ministry, they have modeled for us steadfastness, perseverance, self-sacrifice and dedication. They have faithfully run the race and gained the prize. They have become worthy examples to us, and have been “means of grace” to each of us in our vocation.
And now, Paul says, “we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.” Having received grace from hearing their stories and contemplating their devotion to God, we ought now to press on ourselves, not letting their witness be in vain, but drawing on it day by day for inspiration and hope. As we say in our Rule,
God calls us to remember them and to value their testimony… As we explore the spiritual legacy of our forebears we remember that they are not dead figures from the past. Risen in Christ, they belong to the great cloud of witnesses who spur us on by their prayers to change and mature in response to the Holy Spirit who makes all things new.
(The Rule of the Society of St John the Evangelist,
Chapter 3: “Our Founders and the Grace of Tradition”)
Brothers, today we are offered encouragement and instruction by their examples. We are offered the wisdom that comes from learning from their mistakes and failures. We are offered the inspiration of their love and self-sacrifice, and their devotion to Christ. We are offered the help of their prayers. We are offered today the opportunity to deepen our resolve to be as faithful to our calling as they have been, and the reminder that the witness we give and the life we live may be the food of inspiration for generations to come.
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