THE APOSTLE ST. JOHN
Interview with Father Philippe...
Why did the community take the name "St. John"?
One day, I received a call from Rome asking what name to give this new religious family. I must confess I hadn't given it much thought. When you are very close to people, you don't think about naming them; you live with them. Nonetheless, I replied: " Listen, since you're asking me what name to give, I can only conceive of one, and that's Saint John. " " Oh, fine, very good. " And that's how it was concluded. Afterwards, I thought about it quite a bit, and I realized that there was no other name possible.
Yet you're a Dominican; what is the relationship with the Apostle John?
For me, Saint Dominic and Saint John are very close. I have always liked to go from Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica to the Gospel of John. John's Gospel enables us to directly live the mystery of Jesus and the Summa Theologica enables us to purify our imagination and our intelligence so that we may be more intelligent for Jesus. There is a very close connection between the doctrinal aspect of Saint Thomas and Saint John. The latter, by the way, is called " the theologian " by those in the East.
Is this the only thing that led you to Saint John?
No, because it was not so much the theologian that I was considering but above all the "beloved disciple" (John 13:23), the faithful disciple. In our world, it is so difficult to be faithful -the word itself isn't used so much anymore- we have successive fidelities.... John's fidelity is not a "successive" fidelity ; it's fidelity in love, which is the most demanding, and which must assume our entire life. What Jesus asks today of his disciples, of his friends, is a fidelity which perseveres to the end: follow the Lamb even to the Cross (cf. Rev. 14:4), living His mystery of Resurrection and Glory, looking only at Him, letting Him go before them. This is what the name " Saint John " really means for us.
Yes, it's a perspective that's given to us in his Gospel. It consists first of all in a very special bond with the mystery of the Eucharist. John is the one who spoke of the mystery of the "bread of life" in the most incredible way (Jn. 6:26-58); and he is the only one who shows us the " washing of the feet " (Jn. 13:2-15) -that is, this ultimate purification of forgiveness, necessary for whoever wants to approach the holy table.
The Eucharist leads to the Cross and opens the way to the Cross : Saint John is also the only disciple who is faithful at the foot of the Cross. Here, he lives the mystery of Mary's compassion, because he is closely united to Jesus and so near to Mary. Yet Jesus wants more : He gives Mary to John, who takes her " into his own " (Jn. 19:27), which means in the depths of his heart.
Thus John teaches us to live faithfully all the way to the Cross, by living this mystery as Mary lived it, in faith, hope and love. For through this mystery we receive directly from Jesus this ultimate gift which is Mary. Jesus entrusts her to John to show him how much He loves him and wants to give him everything, so that he may be faithful and persevere to the very end in fulfilling the demands of divine love.