May 6th was the traditional feast day of John until the late Middle Ages. The Celts divided the year into four seasons commencing in November, February, May and August, some marking the start of the year in November, others in May. Christian Celts shared the feast days of the four Gospel evangelists between these seasons, so that one occurs in each [see also notes on Matthew (November 16th), Mark (April 25th) and Luke (October 18th)]. An article about John’s life can be found at December 27th, the day he is normally celebrated today. As with the Eastern church, Celtic Christians valued John’s Gospel above all the others, believing it to have been written by ‘the beloved disciple’, the one who leaned against Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper and who heard the heartbeat of God. This was the teaching that actually lay behind the dispute at the Synod of Whitby in 664. The Celts were more inclined to listen to the teachings they believed to have been passed down from John than those the Western church believed were passed down from Peter, who was given ‘the keys of the Kingdom’ and believed to have been the first Bishop of Rome. Such differences should not be allowed to divide Christians and cause rifts in their fellowship. We may honour one saint.or group of saints above others, but the message of the New Testament is that we should listen to them all and honour them all for Christ’s sake.
Teach us, beloved Saviour, to honour all those who have spread Your message and followed You faithfully. Hold us together as one people, the Body of Christ and show us how to work for reconciliation, peace and the glory of Your name in our world. Amen.