AKA Information you probably didn't hear about in popular fiction



Masonic Education  

 A Biography of Saint John the Baptist
from The Southern California Research Lodge F&AM
by RW Sydney Grunberg PDDGM, California

Saint John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, was a son of the Jewish priest Zacharias and of Elizabeth, who was a zealous judge of morality and undaunted preacher of repentance, obtained great celebrity, first in his native country, then in the mountains of Judea, and afterwards among the whole nation. His simple and abstemious manner of living contributed much to his fame, and especially the peculiar purification or consecration by baptism in a river bath, which he introduced as a symbol of that moral purity which he so zealously inculcated. Jesus allowed himself to be baptized by him, and from that time forward, John said unto his disciples that Jesus was certainly the Messiah. The frank earnestness and the great fame with which he preached even in Galilee soon brought upon him the suspicion and hatred of the court of Tetrarch Antipas, or King Herod, who imprisoned him, and on the 29th of August, in the thirty-second or thirty third year of his life, caused him to be beheaded. The 24th of June, his birthday, is dedicated to his memory through all Christendom.

The patron Saint of the Freemasons' brotherhood was formerly not Saint John the Baptist, but Saint John the Evangelist, whose festival they celebrate on the 27th of December, upon which day they held their general assembly, probably induced thereto because at this season of the year, the members could be better spared from their business or profession. For this reason, they chose for their quarterly festivals the annunciation of the Virgin Mary, Michaelmas, and the festival of Saint John the Baptist, which last festival, on account of the better weather and other circumstances having been found to be more convenient for the yearly assembly, was often appointed for the time on which it should be held, so that it has become nearly general. Many Lodges still celebrate the 27th of December and call it the minor Saint John's Day.

Among the peoples of the many nations, it has been a custom for ages to dedicate every temple, statue, altar, public building, or sacred place to some divinity, usually some saint or outstanding character whose work for a society has aided in its establishment.

The ancient Romans confided this duty to their consuls, pretors, censors, to other chief magistrates and afterward, to the emperors. Many such edifices were dedicated to some patron saint as also were different religious faiths, and even during the colonial times the Masonic Lodges in England were dedicated to Saint John while the Scotch dedicated theirs to Saint Andrews. The first two Lodges in Boston were so divided.

While the different religions dedicated their churches to their different saints, among the Jews, from their first history, all their places for worship were dedicated to the one God, Jehovah. So with Masonry, for many years, it was dedicated to King Solomon for he was the first Grand Master, but later, from the 11th to the 15th centuries, it was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and was know as the Lodge of the Holy Saint of Jerusalem. It was during the 15th century that Saint John the Evangelist was so recognized and from that time, Masonry has been dedicated to the Holy Saints John, including both.

Until just a few years ago, it was not know that John the Baptist had any connection with Masonry or why he should be so honored, but upon the discovery of the ancient scrolls of he Essenes at Qumram, it was established that he was a member of the society of Essenes and had served as chaplain or priest. The fact that he baptized was his qualification as a priest. While it has not been definitely established that the society of Essenes was the same as Masonry, there is a great similarity between the two, the moral teachings of both are the same. The charity of both, as well as the practice of Brotherly Love, were identical.

A Biography of Saint John the Evangelist
from The Southern California Research Lodge F&AM
by RW Sydney Grunberg PDDGM

Saint John the Evangelist and apostle of Jesus, whose gospel is so important to all Freemasons, was born in Bethaida, in Galilee, AD99. A son of Zebedee, a Galilean fisherman, and to Salome, throughout the New Testament, he is referred to as being a disciple of Jesus, who loved him because he distinguished himself by his gentleness and humility.

He was a much different type than John the Baptist. He was more calm and thoughtful, only arriving at a decision after careful study, and never threatened, but tried to win by persuasion.

After the ascension of Jesus, he returned to Patmos. After the Crucifixion, he returned from exile to Asia Minor and settled at Ephesus, where it is probable that he died at a very old age. He was a man of great energy and poetic fire and life; in his early years somewhat haughty and intolerant, but afterwards an example of love. However, there was one incident told in the Gospel where his good judgment was overcome by his hasty action. He, with other disciples, had accompanied Jesus to a village whose residents were mostly Samaritans, between whom and the people there was little feeling. So when the Samaritans refused to receive or listen to Jesus and his disciples, James and John asked permission to pray for fire to come down and destroy them. Jesus not only refused their request, but rebuked them for such thought, saying "Ye know knot what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."

In the 2nd century, John the apostle was identified by Justin with the prophet John who suffered on the island of Patmos, wrote the Book of Revelation. Yet, in Revelation 21:14, that writer implicitly differentiates himself from the group of twelve apostles. An even stronger tradition was reported by Irenaeus in which John is identified as the unnamed Beloved Disciple of Jesus, who was the source of the Fourth Gospel and, hence, an evangelist. The title "John the Divine" designates him a theologian because of the quality of the Gospel.

The Beloved Disciple seemingly lived a long life and did not die a martyr, hence the tradition that john lived at Ephesus in Asia Minor until early in the reign of Trajan (98 -117 AC). Irenaeus has him confronting the heretic Cerinthus in the public baths there, perhaps a legendary recollection of the type of doctrinal conflict found in the Epistles of John. Tertullian says that John was taken from Ephesus to Rome and cast into a cauldron of boiling oil before the Latin Gate. Other ancient legends have him raising a dead man to life, reclaiming a robber for Christ, and constantly repeating in his old age, "Little children, love one another."

Of the four figurative representations of the evangelists based on Ezekiel 1:10 and Revelation 4:7, John was depicted as an eagle because of the soaring theology of the Gospel prologue.

The Gospel of Saint John the Evangelist is especially important to the Freemasons, for he preached love, and his book contains all the fundamental doctrines of Freemasonry. As a Freemason ought never to forget that he has laid his hand upon the Gospel of Saint John, so should he never cease to love his Brethren according to the doctrine of love contained in that sacred book. Many Lodges celebrate his anniversary, the 27th of December.

The primary purpose of commemorating these patrons is to remind Masons of their obligations, to weed evil out of their lives and to nurture and cultivate their finest strains. It also reminds them that his can best be done through friendship, understanding, and mutual aid.

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