Today is the feast day of one of the Church’s earliest and greatest philosophers, St. John the Apostle. John was the only Apostle to die a natural death, and he lived into his nineties. St. Jerome tells us that John still preached, although he would be carried into the church on a litter. People would crowd around him, eager to hear the wisdom of Christ’s favorite follower.
The crowd must have had high expectations. John was considered the most “philosophical” of the Gospel authors, and wrote some of the most breathtaking passages in the New Testament. John, who was closest to Jesus during His life on earth, was also considered to have come closer to capturing the Kingdom of God in his writings. So much so, in fact, that John is always pictured with an eagle, representative of how high above humanity his thoughts soared. Surely, John’s sermons would be incredible.
According to St. Jerome, John repeated one short, simple sentence. “Little children,” he said, “love one another.” That’s it. No “Book of Revelation Part Dieux.” No, “In the beginning was the Word, and it gets more complicated after that.” Nope. Little children, love one another.
The more I think about that story, the more profound it becomes. After all, wasn’t that the essence of Jesus’ message to us? Didn’t he tell us that there is no greater law or commandment than to love God, and to love one another? All the time, everyone, everywhere. Perhaps John, the Apostle-Philosopher understood better than anyone that more words would add nothing to the greatest message in human history.
Little children, love one another.