In approximately 6AD, was the birth of John; who was to become known as Saint John the Evangelist. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome and the younger brother of James and raised on the shores of Galilee. It is thought that he and James were not raised in poverty.
John and his brother James learned of Jesus Christ through the teachings of Saint John the Baptist. It is believed that upon learning of Jesus, John and James asked where he dwelt, followed him and spent the day with him. This is probably where John the Evangelist began his lifelong devotion to Jesus.
John, along with James, followed Jesus to Galilee and spent the remainder of their lives with Jesus. John, James and Peter were Jesus’ most trusted followers and were with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. John was the only one of the 12 Apostles that did not forsake him in the hour of his Passion.
After the crucifixion, it is believed that John was the first to reach the empty tomb of Jesus. After the resurrection, John was the first to recognize Jesus. Thus ensued Jesus’ 40 days of teaching and demonstrating he is the risen Son of God.
After Jesus’ ascension, it is believed that John returned to Ephesus. During this time, he endured much torcher and strife and miraculously survived. Upon returning to Ephesus, sometime after 97AD, it is likely this is when he wrote his gospel. He exhorted to the children of Ephesus to “… love one another.” He, likely, died at an old age, possibly around 100AD having been the only of Jesus Apostles not to die a martyr’s death.
The feast day of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist is December 27th and, in the opinion of this author, it is no coincidence that Saint John is the patron saint of love, loyalty and friendships, among others. He was believed to be the author of four books of the New Testament: The Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John and The Revelation.
As with John the Baptist, it is unknown exactly why John the Evangelist was selected as a patron saint of Freemasonry. However, it could be argued that Saint John the Evangelist has more of a connection than Saint John the Baptist. There are a few things that are certain. The Holy Saints John cannot be separated in their lives or any context of discussion and their connection to Jesus Christ is undeniable.
Being a Christian myself, I believe that these two men were, at their core, teachers and followers of Christ. That being said, Freemasonry makes no provision for a particular faith. However, many faiths, including Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism all agree on the existence of the men we refer to as the Holy Saints John.
As Masons, we invoke the names of the Holy Saints John at every meeting opening and closing. Not insignificantly, we also invoke their names during our obligations. I believe this is to remind us to live our lives as they lived theirs… with the conviction and passion of John the Baptist along with the loyalty and teachers heart of John the Evangelist.
These two men, the Holy Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, connect us as Masons while simultaneously giving us the freedom to put first the venerated individuals of our respective faiths: Jesus Christ, Muhammad, etc.