Dan Brown, the popular novelist, in his book "The DaVinci Code", uses an extreme case of mistaken identity as the basis of his work of fiction rooted in Leonardo DaVinci's "The Last Supper". Brown states that the figure seated next to Jesus and resting their head on the shoulder of Christ, the figure with long flowing hair and no beard, is Mary Magdalene, who, his fiction claims, is the wife of Jesus. And thus the fantasy takes flight.
DaVinci himself, and the Church before his time and since, theology scholars as well as art scholars, have always recognized this figure as the "beloved disciple", Saint John, the Apostle and Evangelist. He and his followers are credited with the fourth Gospel, a few Letters in the New Testament, as well as the Book of Revelation, all found in the Sacred Scriptures. John was the only Apostle not martyred, and it is thought that he lived a long life in exile, reflecting and writing of his experience with his friend and mentor, Jesus. Today is his feast day.
John is called the "beloved disciple" and was watched over and protected by Jesus during his public ministry probably because, of all of the disciples, he was only a young boy. Jesus was to him a big brother and guardian. He was young - thus the lack of a beard among the others. He was young - thus the entrusting of him to Mary. He was young - thus the long life lived.
John wrote a reflective, theological Gospel that tells the story with great beauty and graceful style, but with an inspiring call to encounter and discipleship with Jesus to all who read or heard the Good News. He unlocked the secrets of the Word become flesh and spread the words of life through all the world. He reminded us, as I mentioned the other day, that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."