Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 9 August 2006
John, the theologian
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Before the holidays I had begun sketching small portraits of the Twelve Apostles. The Apostles were Jesus’ travelling companions, Jesus’ friends. Their journey with Jesus was not only a physical journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, but an interior journey during which they learned faith in Jesus Christ, not without difficulty, for they were people like us.
But for this very reason, because they were Jesus’ travelling companions, Jesus’ friends, who learned faith on a journey that was far from easy, they are also guides for us, who help us to know Jesus Christ, to love him and to have faith in him.
I have already commented on four of the Twelve Apostles: Simon Peter; Andrew, his brother; James, the brother of St John; and the other James, known as “The Lesser”, who wrote a Letter that we find in the New Testament. And I had started to speak about John the Evangelist, gathering together in the last Catechesis before the holidays the essential facts for this Apostle’s profile.
I would now like to focus attention on the content of his teaching. The writings that we want to examine today, therefore, are the Gospel and the Letters that go under his name.
If there is one characteristic topic that emerges from John’s writings, it is love. It is not by chance that I wanted to begin my first Encyclical Letter with this Apostle’s words, “God is love (Deus caritas est); he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (I Jn 4: 16). It is very difficult to find texts of this kind in other religions. Thus, words such as these bring us face to face with an element that is truly peculiar to Christianity.
John, of course, is not the only author of Christian origin to speak of love. Since this is an essential constituent of Christianity, all the New Testament writers speak of it, although with different emphases.
If we are now pausing to reflect on this subject in John, it is because he has outlined its principal features insistently and incisively. We therefore trust his words. One thing is certain: he does not provide an abstract, philosophical or even theological treatment of what love is.
(To continue reading, please see here).