John was the sainted 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 and the west.
John’s 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. Understanding the importance of John Climacus is to recall that the people of his day linked John with the pivotal figure of the Book of Exodus, Moses.
Like Moses, 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 man can ascend to God, like the Ten Commandments. Moses and St. John had a shared interest: they both sought to deliver their people out of slavery. What was known of Moses, St. John is known today by his theology: liberation in Christ.
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.