“John, the fourth Evangelist, is the Eagle. High, powerful, and solitary flight and the ability to look fixedly at the sun are proper to the eagle. In John the Evangelist there is the nobility of the noble bird, powerful flight, and the capacity to gaze fixedly at the Divine Sun-Jesus, the Light of the world, the Light of Heaven, the Light of God, Infinite Splendor-the ability to rise up to supernatural heights to which no other evangelist rose and, in this way, by rising up, to be able to penetrate the mystery and truth and doctrine-everything-of the man who was God.
Soaring like a royal eagle quite high above earthly things and humanity, he saw Christ in his true Nature as the Word of God. More than the Miracle Worker and the Martyr, John presents us with “The Teacher”. The only most perfect Teacher the world has ever had. The God-Teacher, Wisdom become flesh and the oral teacher for men, the Verbum or Word of the Father-that is, the Word making his Father’s thoughts perceptible for men, the Light come to illuminate the darkness and make the twilight flee.
The most sublime truths, the gentlest and best loved, are all sincerely stated in the Gospel of John, who with his eagle eye and spiritual ascent while following the spirit of the Master, from on high saw the supreme heights and the supreme depths and measured the breadth of Christ’s love and the hatred of the Jewish world towards Christ; the struggle between light and darkness, of the excessive forms of “darkness”-that is, the excessive number of enemies of his Master, among whom there was even a disciple and apostle, whom John, in this Gospel of his of Truth and Light clearly calls by his real name, one of his real names: “thief”; he saw the undercover plots, the subtle traps used to make Christ unpopular with the Roman dominators and Jews and the “least ones” who formed the flock of those faithful to Christ. And he notes them all and makes them known, showing Christ in his sublime holiness, not just as God, but also as man.
A Man who does not compromise with his enemies to make them friends; a Man who is able to tell the truth to the powerful and unmask their sins and hypocrisy; a Man who, while not rejecting any of those deserving of being drawn near because they are moved to come to Him by their soul’s desire to be redeemed, is able to hurl his anathema at those who, though most powerful, deceive Him with false offers of friendship so as to catch Him in sin; a Man who respects the Law, but tramples on what is superimposed on the Law: the “burdens” set upon the least ones by the pharisees; a Man who refuses a kingdom and earthly crown and flees to get free of them (John 6:15), but does not cease to proclaim his spiritual Kingdom and take the crown of the Redeemer to confirm his doctrine of sacrifice with his own sacrifice; the most holy Man who wanted to experience everything associated with man except sin.
The eagle does not sing more or less melodiously as other birds do, but casts forth his powerful cry, which is such an affirmation of power that it makes the hearts of men and animals tremble. John does not sweetly sing the story of Christ, either, but hurls forth his powerful cry to celebrate the Hero, and it is such a forceful cry in asserting the Divinity and most luminous Wisdom of Christ that it makes souls and hearts tremble from the first words of his introduction.
The eagle loves solitary peaks on which the sun blazes with all its fire, and the more the sun shines, the more the eagle stares at it, as if fascinated by its splendor and warmth. John, too, the solitary, though he was with his companions both before and after the Passion and Ascension of the Master-for he truly was a different Apostle, unique in certain respects as a man and disciple, united to the others only through charity which was most intense in him-John, too, like the eagle, loved to remain on the summit, in the fire of his Sun, and look at Him alone, listen to all of his words, both spoken and secret-that is, the deep, sweet lessons and conversations of Christ and his solitary outpourings of feeling, his prayer and communion with the Father, in the silence of the nights or in the depths of the forests, wherever Christ-the great Solitary, because He was the great Unknown and Misunderstood One-isolated Himself to find comfort in union with his Father.
Jesus: the Sun of Charity; John: the lover of the Sun of Charity and the virgin wedded to Charity-he, the pure one, attracted by Jesus, perfect Purity. Love gives special understanding. And the stronger love is, the more the lover understands even the intimate movements of the beloved. John, the one most faithful to and most loving towards Jesus as God and Man, comprehended everything about Him, not as if resting on his Divine Heart, but as if in his Heart.
No one knew Christ intimately as John did. All the perfections of Christ were known to him. He penetrated into his mystery and into the ocean of his virtues, truly measuring the height, breadth, and depth of this living Temple not made by human hands that men were trying to destroy in vain. And, after decades had transpired, he wrote about them all and described them, leaving the most perfect Gospel in historical veracity, the most powerful in doctrine, the most luminous in terms of wisdom and charity, and the most faithful in describing episodes and characters, capable of overcoming the mental restrictions of the Jews and describing even what the other evangelists had not dared to say: the Samaritan woman, the royal official, the scandal and flight and rebellion of the disciples against the Master after the discourse on the Bread of Heaven, and the adulterous woman, and the open disputes with Jews, Pharisees, Scribes, and Doctors, and his taking refuge in Samaria and Ephraim, and his contacts with the Gentiles, and the truth about Judas, “who was a thief.” and many other things.
More than mature in years, because he was advanced in age when he wrote his Gospel, but perennially young because he was pure, but always equally and ardently loving towards Christ, for no other human love had diverted the flames of his charity from the Beloved, John, the loving eagle of Christ, has revealed Christ to us with a power superior to every other, inferior only to that of Christ Himself, which was infinite, since it was the power of God, in revealing his Father to us.”