1 John 1:1-4; Psalm 96(97):1-2,5-6,11-12; John 20:2-8
Why this sudden jump from Christmas to Easter? What has the empty tomb to do with the cattle-shed in Bethlehem? The Beloved Disciple, here identified with John the Evangelist, is the symbol of love, the love of God demonstrated by the babe at Bethlehem.
The Beloved Disciple runs first, ahead of Peter, to the tomb and comes to belief, though Peter did not understand. This ‘Beloved Disciple’ is deliberately never named. This is a normal convention in ancient and even mediaeval literature, but that is a beneficial convention for us, because it lets the Beloved Disciple stand for any disciple whom the Lord loves. Each of us is a disciple - each of us has at least one moment of realising that we believe. He sits next to Jesus at the Last Supper, sharing the Eucharist - we do so each Sunday, when we share the Eucharist. He is committed to Mary at the foot of the Cross, so shares the Passion and suffering of Christ, and with Mary composes the first family of the Church. We also need to - and we can especially at Easter, symbolised as we venerate the cross on good Friday. He is put forward in John 21.24 as the prime witness to the tradition of the Church. We also should be witnesses to those around us - it is a commission we all share through our baptism.
In this instance, the beloved disciple is St John the Evangelist: There is a legend which has it that in extreme old age he was still brought into the assembly, and all he would say was ‘My children, love one another’.