Second Day of Christmas: St. John the Apostle and Evangelist

It’s 8 pm on the 26th as I begin to write this. By the kind of calculations I mentioned in my earlier post, I guess this qualifies as the “Second Day of Christmas.”

Two turtle doves. Pigeons and doves I’m familiar with (pigeons obnoxiously almost everywhere you don’t want them; doves at funerals and papal pictures).  They are migrating birds common to Europe, Asia and Africa, crossing the equator to like perpetually in summer. Smart idea if you have the wings (frequent flyer miles?) and stamina for it. Quite handsome if the Wikipedia picture is any indication. The name has no relation to the shelled animal we call “turtle.” It’s said to come from their song “turr-turr-turr“.

Actually, we in America don’t have turtle doves, so you’ll have to import a pair if you want to gift your true love. (Distinct from the mourning dove, which is found in the USA; perhaps she/he won’t notice the difference.)

The two turtle doves are sometimes seen as symbolic of the Old and New Testaments. Given today’s feast, John the Evangelist, they might better symbolize the two natures of Christ, as emphasized in the prologue of is Gospel, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Read the whole of John Chapter 1; no matter how familiar you think you are with it, it still sounds new and fresh. Good News indeed!

At Christmas we rightly tend to concentrate on the infancy of Jesus in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. Celebrating the Feast of John the Evangelist on the Second Day of Christmas, reminds us to step back and see the “big picture”: that little Babe in swaddling clothes is the Eternal Word of God’s Love, spoken in our language, the language of humanity.

A few years ago, I gave a three-session series of talks on the Infancy of Jesus in the Gospels (with a bonus on the lore of the apocryphal gospels and St. Nicholas). If you find time over the next eleven days, you might enjoy watching them.

I guarantee it’ll be time better spent than watching “The Interview,” and you won’t be hacked by cyber-terrorists.

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Author: tomwelbers

I have been a Catholic priest for nearly fifty years, most of that time serving in parish and college campus ministry. I also have professional degrees in theology and liturgy, as well as institutional management, and continue avidly to explore pastoral theology, Scripture, liturgy, ecumenical and interfaith relations, and spiritual direction. I have a passion for sharing insight into our Christian heritage through teaching, writing, and leading pilgrimages, especially to Early Christian World sites in Turkey. Now actively retired from parish ministry, I live at Nazareth House in Los Angeles.

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