John was abbot of St Catherine’s on Mt Sinai in the first half of the seventh century. His name derives from his most famous work, called The Ladder to Paradise. Its thirty steps detail a system of monastic spirituality. This manual is the most widely used around the east. His popularity among monastics, the custom of reading his work at the monastery table during Great Lent, and the fact that the calendar feast of St John falls in this season.
St John is known as the new Moses. So if you want to understand this attribution you have to know the the Book of Exodus. Moses was the holy man of his day, went to the desert for 40 years, the one who spoke with God on Mt Sinai, the one recorded and taught God’s Law (the 10 Commandments) and he is the one who led the people in the walk of liberation from slavery to freedom.
St. John spent forty years in the desert, ascended Mt. Sinai, the same mountain as Moses, brought down the mountain like Moses the tablets of the Law, though John’s “law” is called The Ladder of Divine Ascent, a book that describes how we can ascend to God, like the Ten Commandments. One cannot underestimate the role both Moses and John had in their student’s liberation in Christ. For the Christian the only liberation is known in the Paschal Mystery of the Lord: His life, death, resurrection and ascension, no other path of liberation is the liberation experienced in the sacraments (the Holy Mysteries) of Eucharist and the Confession of sins. Liberation is the newness of life in the Lord of Life and His Church.
In addition to the commemoration today, this 6th century Palestinian father has been given a fixed commemoration on the 4th Sunday of Lent. (NS edited)
St. John, point us to Christ.