Mark that date

“No one at Calvary was consulting a book.”

(And no one at Bethlehem, either. There were no missals yet.)

This is one of the many little sayings that I’ve acquired from backward-looking, anti-intellectual, Latin-singing deplorables through the years. The sort of people who may have voted for Trump, even though they thought he was a disgusting liberal. Who plod away at their retrogade religion, even when discouraged by the boss in Rome. Who are not very smart; who don’t know any better. Who observe the antiquated Calendar of the Church, having, it seems, nothing better to do. Soft, when the world goes hard; hard, when the world goes soft. Whose minds indeed wander from the worldly things. Who think the Word precedes the world, and that the most important event in history — the only thing of immortal importance — happened twenty centuries ago. Who aren’t even clinging to their Bibles and their guns, except when challenged. Because the Word transcends them; a Word before all words. “Space cadets,” you might call us; yet disrespectful to the rocket scientists.

Saint John — the Apostle and Evangelist; author of Gospel, Epistles, Apocalypse; the “Theologos,” the first “Doctor of the Church”; witness to the Transfiguration; him who was placed by Christ’s right side at the Last Supper; and at Christ’s feet before the Cross; to whose care Jesus entrusted his own Mother; the disciple “whom Jesus loved”; the only one of the original Twelve to die of natural causes. (At Ephesus.)

Just to be clear: that John.

I play favourites, too; Saint John is the first place I go in the Bible. No matter how many times I read it, or hear it read, the opening of the Fourth Gospel electrifies me. It is as the universe in its totality bursting from the infinitesimal “cosmic egg.”

Except, we go deeper:

In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum. …

We are there, “in the beginning,” once again, and in the flip of a few pages we are there again, at our end:

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last:

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore; and have the keys of Hell and of Death.

The 27th of December, 3rd day of Christmas, Feast of St John. … Mark that date.