27 December 2008
John: "a virgin chosen by the Lord"
A Meditation on St. John as virgin
In the office for the feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, there are numerous references to his virginity. This is unusual for a male saint, but John is no ordinary saint -- if there can be such a thing. Jesus' love for John and John's for Jesus is extraordinary. He is the "beloved disciple." Here are a few random thoughts of mine on this love.
I think that John probably was much younger than the other apostles. Rather than being the age of a brother or peer as the other apostles probably were, I think that John was more the age of a son or much younger brother. His entrusting Mary to John would make sense again on the natural level in this light: John would be more likely to outlive Mary than the others. Thus perhaps Jesus' distinctive love for John could be based partially in the fact that His natural relationship to John was different. He would have loved John even on the natural level with a more protective love, and John would have loved Him with the more expressive love of the young.
I often think of John's love of Jesus as I see love for Jesus in the young men that I work with as a university chaplain. There is a desire to love Jesus, but there is also the great obstacle of the hyper-sexualized world they live in. They become discouraged by their failures in pure love. To them, I offer John as an intercessor and model to purify their love.
Some of these young men also hear a call to love Jesus exclusively -- to be virgins by embracing a life of celibacy. Some are afraid of this call, I think, precisely because of the call to give this particular aspect of themselves to the Lord. To them, I point out that the adventure of virginal love made John the most manly of the apostles as he stood by the cross and rushed to the tomb. He had the particular relationship to Mary as her son. Do not be afraid to be "a virgin chosen by the Lord."