minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

John the Eagle

Eagle Symbol of John

Eagle Symbol of John

The Apostle John has a Feast day on the 27th of Dec. He is understood to have written the last of the Gospels which were included into the canon of scripture, and is also credited with three epistles and the Book of Revelation which concludes the New Testament.

Like the other Gospels, Johns has a focus, an idea that is built into the telling. Matthew wrote the Jews, Mark focused on ministry, Luke to the gentiles and these three writers all tell a very similar story. Johns gospel takes a very different turn, and focuses on theology. Keeping with the other gospels, John uses the framework of Jesus’ life. But John digs in deep,  bringing to the fore front the sacraments like baptism and the eucharist. He uses the events in Jesus life to key in on these strange christian practices, not only to show us they come from Christ but to explain what is really going on spiritually. Baptism is being “born again” or “born from above” (John 3) ; the Eucharist is the real presence, the Body and Blood, of Christ (John 6).

John on Patmos. The Eagle brings him ink.

John on Patmos. The Eagle brings him ink.

It is important to note that there is no Last Supper mentioned in the Gospel of John. Instead the narrative from Chapter 6 takes it’s place, explaining the same concept in a more dramatic way. It seems that even during Johns life, there must have been some confusion or misunderstanding about the Blessed Sacrament and John puts the whole argument out for all to see. He doesn’t dice any words, doesn’t bend left or right, he puts it all out there; Jesus’ claim, the reaction, Jesus’ re-affirming, the reaction again and even to the point where the 12 questioned Him. Jesus remains firm on this, and John makes it known.

John was the youngest Apostle, often pictured without a beard. He is the only original apostle to die a natural death; all the others were martyred. His writings conclude the book of Gospels (Evangelion), the epistles, and the book of the New testament, and the entire canon of Scriptures which the Church acknowledges.

John is often pictured as or with an eagle, which is the Evangelical symbol for the apostle. The eagle soars high above, it was said that the eagle could look into the sun, and such perspective and mysticism fills Johns Gospel. As such it gets a little extra attention. Readings from the Gospel of John are read at mass during the Easter season and in the Tridentine mass the ceremony concluded with a recital of the first chapter of John.


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

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2 thoughts on “John the Eagle

  1. Pingback: Kells Eagle | minima maxima sunt

  2. Jonathan on said:

    Could you tell me where you got the picture at the bottom of this post? Looks like a detail of a stained glass with the St. John eagle at the feet of a saint. I am wondering where this window is located. This is one of the most beautiful depictions of the eagle I have seen.

    Thank you.


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