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Daily Devotional • December 27
Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

James Cornwell
Seek Him in the Dark
A Reading from the Gospel of John 13:20-35

20 Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”

21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples — the one whom Jesus loved — was reclining close to his heart; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 Now no one knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Today the Church commemorates St. John the Evangelist, beloved disciple, writer of the fourth Gospel, exile on the isle of Patmos. It is this saint that shows us that in order to see the breaking forth of God’s eschatological promises we must abide in dark, dangerous, and lonely places. In today’s gospel reading, St. John is the only one who knows who will betray Jesus — none other at the table knows why Jesus spoke to Judas. 

Alone in his knowledge of the shape of things to come, St. John concludes with the exit of Iscariot: “And it was night.” It is in this night that Jesus remarks that the Son and Father are mutually glorified, and he gives his disciples the commandment to love one another, calling forth an image of the heavenly place in which we will all live together as friends, the Father and the Son mutually glorified in the love of the Spirit — all declared here, in the darkness of that treacherous night.

St. John and the Mother of God will soon be bound together into a spiritual family that transcends flesh and blood, during the long and ghastly march toward Calvary. Later, he will be gifted with the prophecy of the revelation of all things while cut off and alone, exiled on the island of Patmos. Throughout his earthly life, St. John always raced to the darkest places out of love for Christ, and in the darkness, he caught glimpses of the age to come.

In this season of the First Coming, if we seek to catch glimpses of the world brought about by the Second, we must yearn for Christ in the dark places. Listen for his voice calling to you deep in the night of treachery, or in the callousness of injustice, or in the alienation of exile. Follow the example of St. John, and seek the Christmas child grown and glorified in the darkness which will never comprehend his light. 

James Cornwell lives and works in Wheaton, Illinois, with his wife Sarah and their seven children.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

Christ Cathedral, Salina, Kansas
The Diocese of Okrika – The Church of Nigeria
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