Feast Day of St John the Theologian

Feast Day of St John the Theologian

Today, the College Dean, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, presided at matins and liturgy for the feast day of the holy glorious Apostle and Evangelist, John the Theologian, to whom the College chapel is dedicated. Due to public health orders and restrictions in NSW, the service was conducted behind closed doors with only a few members of the Faculty present for chanting and reading. In his sermon, His Eminence spoke in a moving way regarding the life of St John the Theologian:

“Today the Church celebrates the memory of a great saint of the Church, an Evangelist, but also in reality, a preeminent theologian of our Church; and for this reason, I give thanks to God that we here at the Theological College have this chapel which is dedicated to St John the Theologian. Not only is he a great theologian of our Church, but he is also known as ‘the saint of love’.

And, therefore, the message which immediately comes to mind is that there can be no genuine theology without love. These two go together; that is to say, when theology is not identified with love then it becomes a mere academic preoccupation. But the theology of the Orthodox Church is not mere intellectualism. This is something that we all know….. For this reason, I would like to share a different thought with you today.

St George and St John the Theologian are two saints with whom I have a personal affinity and whom I consider to be my protectors. On the one hand, I consider St George a personal saint and protector because of the Monastery of St George (Epanosifis, on the island of Crete) where I lived for most of my life, since around the age of fourteen and until I was elected a bishop of the Church. Therefore, a sizeable aspect of my life is identified with St George.

I have always loved St John because he was a sensitive person who always stood by the side of Christ. Reflecting on the event of the crucifixion of Christ, St John is that person who never left the side of Christ; it was he who did not allow Christ to freeze and to grow cold and numb from loneliness. People today freeze, they go numb with cold due to loneliness rather than from cold weather. St John, however, remained by the side of Christ until the last moment—and this impresses upon me very much.

I often endeavoured in the past to reflect upon why St John was specifically the one who remained by the side of Christ until the last moment. Even though he was one of the younger disciples of Christ, and most certainly would have been afraid, most certainly his trust in Christ would have been shaken beholding him dying on the Cross … and yet, St John remained by the side of Christ until the end.

When I later read the book of Revelation, it was there that I understood why St John remained until the end. In the book of Revelation, St John talks about those people who are lukewarm. In there he says something which is very revolutionary for Orthodox theology: “I detest those who are lukewarm” (cf. Rev. 3:16: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”) The lukewarm will cause great damage to the Church. It is as if St John is telling us that ‘I would much rather prefer a very sinful person, rather than a lukewarm and supposedly ‘sinless’ pious Christian.’ It is the people of extreme disposition— when it comes to the love of Christ—who brought the Church to her pre-eminence.

St John was genuine, not fake … He was a man who gave everything up for Christ; he was not a person of mediocrity. He was not a person who could reconcile himself only with a ‘little’; he was not a person who could reconcile himself with the everyday drudgery of life. He was something else, and it is for this reason that I love him and I am sure that you all love him as well.”