Sermon by Fr Larry Galon, Assistant Priest and Filipino Chaplain
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made"
"The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. He came unto his own, but they did not receive him, but unto them who received he has given the privilege to become sons of God"
These words contain the central themes of the Gospel of John. Through them we can easily understand why John wrote his Gospel. There are only a few accounts or events where John actually portrays himself as one of the Disciples of Christ. Nevertheless our Gospel today tells us that he followed Jesus and his presence did not win the approval of Peter, when he said, “Lord, what shall this man do"? It seems to me that John the Evangelist is too silent in words, (for there were only several words that concern him) but he was very passionate to the Lord. He was the one who leaned on his breast at supper. He stayed with Jesus when the disciples were running. He was at the cross with Mary, not fearing his own death if discovered by Roman soldiers, and he was the one whom the Lord promised not to see death by the sword or persecution.
During my younger days, before I studied the scriptures, I used to think that John the Baptist and John the Evangelist were the same, but they're not. So today allow me to give my personal understanding of the two, and how John the Baptist can help us understand John the Evangelist. The fore-runner, John the Baptist, was the son of a priest, Zachariah. When it was Zachariah’s turn to offer incense in the temple, he was told "fear not Zacharias, your prayers have been heard, your barren wife will give birth to a son and you shall name him John"; but because of his unbelief he became dumb. John spend his days in the wilderness, eating only locust and honey. People often called him demon possessed, yet the word of the Lord came to him to proclaim the message of repentance and baptism upon all Israel. They asked “What shall we do? He said unto them, He that has two coats, let him give to him who has none, he who has meat, let him do likewise. There was a chaos during the birth and ministry of John the baptizer, and as we know, His head was placed in a platter as a prize for the dancing woman Salome.
John the Evangelist, or the post-runner, as I call him, was different. He was a silent follower and prolific believer of Jesus. He alone had the clear understanding of the word “new creation". He said “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and earth passed away and the sea was no more. I saw a new city coming down from God out of heaven". (Revelation 21). He was the living testimony of Jesus life and ministry. The three writers of the gospel somehow do not recognize John's presence. He was not popular, even Peter asked Jesus “what about him"? But his silence brought forth the concrete manifestation of faith through his writings. He carefully described the future glory of believers after the great tribulation. The gathering of all nations whose robe was washed by the blood of the Lamb.
John the Evangelist is a man of Vision, and the Patron of this Parish. I believe this is what we all need and what this parish is all about today. We have a lot of things to be proud of and I believe that it did not just come from those who spearhead this job - it’s from Gods inspiration and through your encouragement. If our patron saint was here with us today, he would be very proud for what this church has become.
Let me share my experience when I was invited to bless a fishing boat. I spent three hours waiting for the captain to collect me but he did not arrive. Later on one of my parishioners informed me that they were waiting for me to come. I felt annoyed that my time was being wasted. I rented a tricycle (it’s a motor cycle with extra side carrier for the passengers) and went to the beach. There I saw the small boat sea, at sea, as the captain was already fishing because a shoal of fish had gathered in one place. To make the story short, I was not able to do the blessing. I came home tired, stressed and angry. After two days, I was woken up early one morning by some people calling my name, and to my surprise it was the captain of the fishing boat with his men smiling at me carrying big boxes filled with fish. After a few greetings they put down the box, telling me that it’s my share. “But I was not able to bless the boat" “Yes father, he said “ but your presence and seeing you at the beach on that day was enough for us".
The presence of this church is enough for us to remind us of the blessings of God brought to us. This is a place where people are able to bless one another through the ministry of our Patron, St John the Evangelist. All can share in this - strangers and residents, visitors and friends, white and coloured people, we are all the fruits of the faithful vision of Saint John the Evangelist.
As we celebrate the Feast Day of our Patron Saint, may God bless this parish and all who work for it, to the glory of God.