The Metastasis of St John the Theologian (Commemorated 26th September)
The Holy Apostle and Evangelist St John the Theologian spent the last years of his life in the city of Ephesus. When he grew weak from old age, he was no longer able to preach publicly as he used to. His unceasing sermon to his disciples was the constant repetition of the Lord’s commandment: “My little children, love one another”.
According to Saint John’s biography by his beloved companion and disciple Saint Prochorus, when the Apostle had reached the age of 105 years and received from God the knowledge of his approaching departure from this life, he called seven of his disciples together and led them to a certain place outside of the city. They reached their destination early in the morning before sunrise.
Saint John withdrew from his disciples to a quiet place and prayed for a little while. When he returned to them, he instructed them to dig a grave in the sand in the shape of a cross. He gave his last counsels to his disciples and then embraced each of them. He lay down inside the grave and instructed them to cover him with earth as far as his knees. He embraced them once again and instructed them to cover him up to his neck, and finally he asked them to cover his face with a thin veil. They followed his instructions and embraced him for the last time with tears. At that moment, the sun rose and St John surrendered his spirit.
The seven disciples returned weeping to Ephesus and told the Christians in the city, who begged them to take them to the site of his burial. When they returned, they discovered that the Saint’s tomb was empty.
According to pious tradition, Saint John had been translated to heaven just like the Theotokos, fulfilling Christ’s enigmatic words to the Apostle Peter: “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:22). The Saviour did not mean that his beloved disciple would not die, but that He would reserve for him a special place, separating him from the other Apostles until His Second Coming.
Source: Lychnos August / September 2017