The apostles John and James, the sons of Zebedee, had said to Jesus that they were willing to drink the cup of His passion so that they might share through him the joy of His resurrection. Our Lord responded to them, saying that they would indeed drink of my cup (St. Matt. 20:23).
Pious tradition has it that Saint John, under Emperor Domitian, was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil "before the Latin Gate." Hence, this particular feast day. Through a miracle, this torture had no effect on him, and a church in honour of St. John was built near the Latin Gate, at the spot of the miracle's occurrence.
Domitian exiled John to Patmos, where he had the vision described in the book of Revelations. Some believe that John wrote the book while he was on the island; other believe that he wrote it after his return to Ephesus.
When Domitian died in 96, John was released and allowed to return to Ephesus, where he became bishop. Some say he wrote his gospel around this time and attribute its more theological and mystical tone to people's familiarity with the events of the life of Jesus, as presented in the other three gospels. Some contend that John wrote his testament to refute and rebuke those who did not believe in the divinity of Christ. John may have written the three letters included in the canon of scripture in his later years.
John died c. 99 or 100. He was the last of the apostles to die and the only one to have died a natural death. Some legends say he did not die but ascended like Elijah. St. Augustine notes a tradition that when John was buried, the ground heaved as if the apostle were still breathing.
Propers for the Protection of St. John Before the Latin Gate
O GOD, who seest the evils that beset us by reason of our sins: grant, we beseech thee; that the glorious intercession of thy Apostle and Evangelist Saint John may be our succour and defence. Through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Epistle - Wisdom 5:1-5.
THEN shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for. And they repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit shall say within themselves, This was he, whom we had sometimes in derision, and a proverb of reproach; We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour: How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints!
The Gospel - St Matthew 20:20-23.
Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
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