FEast: Dec. 27th
Patron of: friendship, loyalty, love, authors
John was called by Jesus with his older brother James while they were out fishing, and tradition holds that their mother, Salome, followed Jesus as well. John was known to be the youngest of the apostles, and could have been a cousin or other relative of Jesus. It is likely that he and James also had followed John the Baptist first, before they met Jesus, and learned about the predictions of Jesus' coming from him.
Jesus gave John and James the nickname "sons of thunder" likely for their tempers (when asking him to call down fire upon a town that had not welcomed them, and for wanting to condemn a man who cast out demons in Jesus' name even though he was not with their group). Their mother also had asked Jesus that her sons may be able to sit closest to him in his kingdom, to which Jesus asked if they could follow him in his suffering, and they told him without a second thought that they could. The other apostles were upset at how ambitious the two were, and Jesus reminded them that only the ones who serve and take the lowest places on Earth will have the highest places in the kingdom of Heaven.
Peter, James, and John were present to witness all of Jesus' recorded miracles, including several that the other apostles were not there for, such as the Transfiguration on the mountain, and raising Jairus' daughter, and they had a closer spot in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter and John were also the only two sent to make preparations for Jesus' last supper, John was permitted to rest the closest on Jesus' chest during the Passover meal, and John was the only one (along with the women) to remain by Jesus throughout his condemnation and crucifixion. It was there that, while dying on the cross, Jesus asked him to take care of Mary for him.
Then, after Mary Magdalene had discovered Jesus risen, she went to tell him and Peter, who both ran to the tomb.
After that day, John was one of few to recognize Jesus resurrected several times, and was also with Peter when a lame man was cured in the temple - causing the two to be thrown in jail together.
It is likely that John, along with the other apostles, spent their first 12 years preaching about Jesus' resurrection without going far, until the first persecution under Herod Agrippa, when all the apostles scattered. Then, after Mary's assumption, tradition holds that John went to Ephesus, (which is now Turkey) where there was already a Christian community of people who had followed John the Baptist and then had been told of Jesus and solidified in the faith by saints Priscilla and Aquila. It was here that John allegedly wrote the 3 New Testament epistles attributed to him.
During the reign of Emperor Domition, John had many attempts made on his life, one of which was to be boiled alive in the Coliseum. When he survived that, all spectators became Christians, and John was banished to a Greek island.
Once on the island, John was reported to have written the book of Revelation, and taught both Sts. Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch. Today, historians doubt whether John -"the apostle that Jesus loved" as described in his Gospel, could be the same John as the one that wrote the epistles, or even the same one that wrote Revelation, as well as a non-canon testimony that circulated for a bit of time in the second century. Regardless, John's Gospel, out of the four, is most focused on Jesus' divinity, and is very personal in its manner of storytelling.
Most believe, however, that John was the only apostle to die of old age, and likely lived a long life. He is depicted in art with his symbol of an eagle.
Jesus gave you his mother to take care of, and you were a brother to him and 11 others. you understood how we have an amazing gift of being able to choose our families on earth whether we were born into them, or not. Bless all non-traditional families because they show us how much we need to love each other to thrive, create community, and heal.
I always imagined John out on his own, writing after people tried to kill him so many times and all his friends and fellow apostles had been martyred; and i'm sure at that point, he wouldn't have been worried about lung cancer after all he had been through - since nothing could kill him! Also, as patron of writers, an image that comes to mind is a traditional scholar with a pipe, though this is the modern version of that. Another reference I used was of my uncle named John, who personifies his character well, and my boyfriend whose features worked well for the pose.