Happy St. John's Day!
Today is St. John’s Day!
St. John was a simple fisherman from Galilee. Along with his brother James, John became a faithful disciple of Christ. He is the only one among the Apostles who was at the cross when Jesus died. While at the cross, he was asked by Jesus to take care of Mary. He is believed to be the writer of the gospel of John, the letters of John, and the book of Revelation.
Legend has it that he traveled with Peter in Judea and then went on to Asia Minor where he founded the seven churches which are mentioned in Revelation. For the rest of his life, St. John faithfully preached the gospel and was eventually exiled to the isle of Patmos. He is the only disciple who did not suffer a martyr's fate.
A great theme surrounding St. John’s ministry and his writings is the love of Christ. St. John writes in 1 John that “God is love, and all who live in love live in God.” He always refers to himself as the “beloved disciple” and St. Jerome wrote that every time St. John was asked to preach he would stand before the crowd and say, "Love one another. This is the Lord's command.” What a profound and simple message!
In keeping with this theme of love, the day is celebrated with the St. John’s Cup. Legend is that once, at a feast, St. John’s enemies presented him with a cup of poisoned wine. Before St. John drank from the cup, he made the sign of the cross. Immediately, the cup split and the poisoned wine spilled out and St. John was saved.
In memory of this event, we have the tradition of the St. John’s Cup. On this day, people would bring their house wine to the church and the priest would bless it. That night, the family would gather for the main meal and everyone would be given a glass of the blessed wine. The father would begin the celebration by having everyone stand with their glass of wine. He would touch his glass to his wife’s glass, look her in the eye and say, “I drink to you the love of St. John.” The mother would then reply, "I thank you for the love of St. John" and they both would take a sip of wine.
The mother would then turn to the oldest child, and say, “I drink to you the love of St. John.” The oldest child would then answer, "I thank you for the love of St. John" and they would both take a sip of wine. The oldest child then turned to the next oldest child and the pattern was repeated until the youngest child faced the father, repeated the phrase, and the family circle was closed.
The remaining wine would be stored away and used when a family member was sick (1 Timothy 5:23) or a time of grand celebration. Also, if a family member was about to take a trip, a few drops of the blessed wine were added to each wine glass and the whole family would drink again "the love of St. John.” Immediately after a wedding cer