The Feast of St.John the Apostle (December 27) follows the birth of Jesus because the writings attributed to John– the 4th gospel and letters– treat the great question: Who is Jesus, the child born of Mary, who lived in Nazareth, preached in Galilee and Judea, died and rose again in Jerusalem?
John was one of the first disciples called by Jesus at the Sea of Galilee to bear witness to him; John sat beside him at the Last Supper; he went into the Garden of Gethsemane with him, then stood beside his cross.
As the gospel reading for his feast reminds us, John saw the empty tomb and recognized Jesus risen from the dead. “‘It is the Lord,’ the other disciples whom Jesus loved said to Peter” on the Lake of Galilee as the Risen Christ appears. (John 21, 7) John has a special role identifying Jesus as human and divine.
Tradition says John was the last of the apostles to die, and so writings identified with him proclaiming belief in both the divinity and humanity of Jesus had special authority in the early church.
The gospel of John is assigned as the final gospel for Christmas day: “In the beginning was the Word.” The letters of John read at Mass most of the days after Christmas until the Feast of the Baptism continue to proclaim a theme of the gospel of John, that the Word became flesh, and uphold the humanity of Jesus against those who deny the possibility that God would take human form.
We know Jesus Christ through his humanity, just as the apostles did, the Ist Letter of John says. The One we know through his humanity is also the Word of God who is God.
“What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you.” 1 John 1-4