The . . . disciple whom Jesus loved. 

It may sound a bit presumptuous to us when we hear St. John refer to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2).   It makes it sound as if he had a special intimate relationship with Jesus or that Jesus’ love for him is unique and different from the way he loves anyone else.

But the funny thing is, it’s true! Jesus does love John in a special way.   He loved him like he loved no one else on earth.   But do you know what else is true? John isn’t the only disciple “whom Jesus loved” like nobody else (John 20:2).  You are too!

John could be elitist (Mark 9:38-41), ambitious (10:34-45), and hotheaded at times (Luke 9:51-56).   But he could also be humble (John 20:3-8), full of faith (20:8), and compassionate as well (13:23-25).   Jesus knew all of this, and he treated John with all the patience, love, and tenderness he needed so that John’s negative traits would diminish, and his positive traits would increase.

In a similar way, Jesus loves you.   He knows you inside and out—your faults, your gifts, and your challenges—and he loves you deeply.   He has the same amount of patience, love, and tenderness toward you that he has for John.   He may show it differently, because you are different from John, but he still loves you with a love that will never fail.

God never plays favorites—not even with those who are more faithful than others.   Of course, when we are faithful, we deepen our relationship with Jesus and experience his love more fully.   We learn, as John did, to lean on Jesus and listen to his heart.   But even when we fall, he is ready to pick us back up, hold us close, and assure us that he still loves us.

Take some time today to reflect on that intimate love that Jesus has for you and you alone.    Lean back on his chest and recall the times when he has shown you his love in the details of your life.   And go ahead and dare to refer to yourself as “the disciple whom Jesus loves.”

Word Among Us