Saint John, brother of Saint James the Greater, the Apostle of Spain, is the beloved disciple. He was privileged, with his brother and Saint Peter, to behold Our Lord raise up a dead child to life, then saw Him transfigured on the mountaintop; he alone reposed his head on His breast at the Last Supper. After the crucifixion it is he who, with Saint Peter, hastened to the empty tomb on the morning of the Resurrection. Standing beside Mary at the Cross, he had heard his Master confide that Blessed Mother to him to be henceforth his Mother also. He took his precious treasure for refuge to Ephesus when the persecution of the Jerusalem Christians became too intense; and from there he went out to evangelize Asia Minor, of which he became the first Archbishop. He was later exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, but afterwards returned to Ephesus.
Compared with an eagle by his flights of elevated contemplation, Saint John is the supreme Doctor of the Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Endowed with an astounding memory, he was able even in his later years, to reproduce the discourses of Christ in such a way as to make the reader experience their power and impact on their audiences as if present to hear them. He is the author of five books of the New Testament, his Gospel, three Epistles, and the last canonical prophecy, the Apocalypse or Revelation of Saint John — all of which were composed after the ruin of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
In his extreme old age he continued to visit the churches of Asia, and Saint Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words: “My dear children, love one another.”
Saint John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan, that is, the hundredth of the Christian era, or the sixty-sixth from the crucifixion of Christ, Saint John then being about ninety-four years old, according to Saint Epiphanus.
The Feast of St. John is the only feast of an apostle now remaining in the Christmas cycle. The station is at St. Mary Major, dedicated to the Savior; this basilica seemed the most suitable place for the celebration of the Christmas station in honor of St. John to whom the Blessed Virgin had been entrusted, both on account of the Savior’s crib there preserved, and of the mosaics of Pope Sixtus III commemorating the Council of Ephesus, held near the tomb of the Evangelist. The Gradual Is drawn from that passage of St. John’s Gospel in which reference is made to the popular belief current in the first generation of Christians in Asia that the beloved disciple should not die before the parousia or last coming of Christ. The advanced age of the Apostle, on the other hand, seemed to lend credit to this opinion. So St. John, in the very last chapter of his Gospel, desired -as a sort of final postscript- to rectify this erroneous interpretation of the Savior’s words. “So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee?” The words were uttered by Our Lord merely as an hypothesis. “So (if) I will”; but in the several oral versions of the episode the conditional and hypothetical particle “If” was easily passed over; hence St. John felt the necessity of explaining the misunderstanding and setting the matter right.
INTROIT Ecclesiasticus 15: 5
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory.. (Ps. 91: 2) It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat In the midst of the Church…
Of Thy goodness, O Lord, shine upon Thy Church, that, enlightened by the teachings of blessed John, Thy Apostle and Evangelist, she may attain to everlasting gifts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Commemoration of Christmas Collect:
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free, who are held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin. Through the same Lord.
EPISTLE Ecclesiasticus 15: 1-6
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. He that feareth God will do good: and he that possesseth justice shall lay hold on her, and she will meet him as an honorable mother. With the bread of life and understanding she shall feed him and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink: and she shall be made strong in him, and he shall not be moved: and she shall hold him fast, and he shall not be confounded: and she shall exalt him among his neighbors, and in the midst of the Church she shall open his mouth, and shall fill him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and shall clothe him with a robe of glory. The Lord our God shall heap upon him a treasure of joy and gladness, and shall cause him to inherit an everlasting name.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA John 21: 23, 19
This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say: He should not die. V. But: So I will have him to remain until I come: follow thou Me.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. (John 21: 24) This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things: and we know that his testimony is true. Alleluia.
GOSPEL John 21: 19-24
At that time Jesus said to Peter: Follow Me. Peter turning about saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned on His breast at supper and said: Lord, who is he that shall betray Thee? Him therefore when Peter had seen, he saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? Follow thou Me. This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but: So I will have him to remain till I come: what is it to thee? This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things: and we know that he testimony is true.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 92: 15
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall be multiplied like the cedar that is in Libanus.
Receive, O Lord, the gifts we bring to Thee on the feast of him, by whose pleading we hope to be delivered. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
Commemoration of the Nativity
Sanctify, O Lord, the gifts offered to Thee, by the new birth of Thine Only-begotten Son: and cleanse us from the stains of our sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Nativity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, for through the Mystery of the Word made flesh, the new light of Thy glory hath shone upon the eyes of our mind, so that while we acknowledge God in visible form, we may through Him be drawn to the love things invisible. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of The glory, evermore saying:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNICANTES For the Nativity of Our Lord
Communicating, and keeping this most holy day, on which the spotless virginity of blessed Mary brought forth a Savior to this world; and also reverencing the memory first of the same glorious Mary, ever Virgin, Mother of the same our God and Lord Jesus Christ: as also of the blessed Apostles and Martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, and Thaddeus; Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and of all Thy Saints, through whose merits and prayers, grant that we may in all things be defended by the help of Thy protection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
COMMUNION ANTIPHON John 21: 23
This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say: He should not die; but: So I will have him to remain until I come.
We who have been refreshed by heavenly food and drink, humbly entreat Thee, O our God, that we may be strengthened also by the prayers of him, in whose commemoration we have received them. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoration of the Nativity
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that as the Savior of the world, born on this day, is the Author of our heavenly birth, so He may also be to us the Giver of immortality. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.