St. John, patron for the youth

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

DECEMBER 27 is the Feast of St. John, the youngest apostle as well as one of the evangelists. The story of his life is a moving example of how a young man can give himself completely to God. Indeed, he is a very good model for our youth to follow.

Among the apostles, he can be considered as the closest to Jesus as can be shown by the fact during the Last Supper it is widely believed that it was he who was referred to as the one Jesus loved dearly and who was leaning on Jesus’s bosom. (cfr. Jn 13,23) Because of that closeness to Jesus, St. Peter, in fact, had to ask him to ask Christ who it was among the apostles who would betray him.

As an evangelist, he was most faithful in recording the teachings of Christ and spreading it as widely as possible. This is how he described himself regarding this matter:

“He who was from the beginning, whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our eyes, upon whom we have gazed, and whom our hands have certainly touched: He is the Word of Life. And that Life has been made manifest. And we have seen, and we testify, and we announce to you: the Eternal Life, who was with the Father, and who appeared to us.

“He whom we have seen and heard, we announce to you, so that you, too, may have fellowship with us, and so that our fellowship may be with the Father and with his Jesus Christ. And this we write to you, so that you may rejoice, and so that your joy may be full.” (1 Jn 1,1-4)

St. John was definitely a very privileged man, and he corresponded to that honor and privilege with utmost fidelity, never abusing it or using it for some entitlements. This can be shown by the fact that when Mary Magdalene told Peter and him that the body of Jesus could not be found anymore in the tomb, he waited for Peter to enter the tomb first even if he arrived there first, being the younger one and the faster one to run. (cfr. Jn 20,1-8)

The example of St. John should inspire all of us, but especially the young ones who still have to learn and master the things of God as taught by Jesus. Especially nowadays when many of the young ones are exposed to teachings, ideologies and lifestyles that are rather questionable, St. John should be strongly promoted as a model to follow.

We need to find ways of how to attract the youth to St. John. Definitely, this will need a lot of study and effort. There has to be friendship with the youth so that the setting of accompaniment and spiritual direction or guidance would be put in place.

The youth should be helped to find great meaning, joy and sense of fulfillment when, like St. John, they develop a certain closeness and intimacy with Christ, and familiarity with Christ’s teaching. Only then would they realize the meaning of their life here on earth and would be filled with desire, nay, zeal, to do apostolate all around.

It’s in this way that they can achieve not only their human maturity but also, and more importantly, their Christian maturity. We have to actively promote a strong and deep devotion to St. John who can be rightly considered as the patron of the youth!