First Sunday of Advent (November 30th, 2014)

Today, the Church here and throughout the world begins the season of Advent.

Advent is a time of heightened expectation and vigorous preparation for the solemn celebrations of the Christ-Mass, or the day that is popularly known as Christmas.

The Christ-Mass is offered on December 25th and it is meant to evoke gratitude and wonder for the coming of God into this world as a man. We Christians believe that some two thousand years ago in the land of Israel, the eternal God, the one, true God, accepted for himself a human nature and lived a real, human life. He took the name Jesus and revealed himself as the Savior of the world and rescued us from the dark powers of sin, death and the devil.

We Christians believe that the coming of God in Christ into the world as a man is not a myth or a legend, but a fact of real history. Jesus of Nazareth is not just a symbol of God, but he is God, who makes of his human nature a kind of bridge or route of access by which we can know him as the one, true God.

When we read the Scriptures or hear the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass, we are invited to listen and learn, not just to “important life lessons about faith and values” or to experience “entertaining stories of a faith-based nature”, but we listen and learn to the great story of how God came into this world in Jesus Christ and offered to the world, through Jesus Christ, the way of knowing him, loving him and serving him.

This great story is for us Christians a real story.

The Christ-Mass is offered nine months to the day the Church commemorates the first moment that God entered into this world through the womb of his mother.

This is meant to signal to us that we are recalling a real person and real events, not legends, myths or symbols.

God does not, in Christ, reveal himself simply in legends, myths or symbols, or simply in ideas or emotions. God does not, in Christ, limit his revelation to the limited spaces of our minds and hearts, but comes into this world in flesh and in blood. He does not come to entertain us, but to save us from sin, death and the devil, but also, and perhaps most importantly, to save us from ourselves.

Jesus Christ is a real, living, divine person. He is God, who accepted a human nature and lived a real, human life. He is not just one of many great men of history, but he is the eternal God, the one, true God, who, because he loves us and his creation, revealed himself to the world in an extraordinary way.

Advent is meant to be a time when we Christians come to terms with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

We are invited to repent and detach ourselves from those things in our lives that prevent us from knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ, but also we are invited to deepen our relationship with Christ through a careful consideration of the Scriptures and an intensification of our participation in the Sacraments. Further, we are invited to seek Christ’s divine presence as he offers himself to us, particularly in the Blessed Sacrament, and in our loving service to the suffering bodies of the poor.

Finally, lest our efforts simply remain on the surface, and prove ultimately to be truncated and self-referential, we are invited to repent of our sins and seek renewed conversion to Christ. Our defiance of Christ need not be thought of in the most dramatic terms, for most, turning away from Christ happens through a low key indifference, a reduction of Christ’s significance, keeping Christ at a distance from our lives as we pursue our own interests.

This low key indifference is as dangerous to the soul as the most wicked refusals of God’s commandments because it makes Christ into a stranger, rather than accepting him as a friend, and reduces God to an object we use when we need him, rather than a living, divine person with whom we share a very real relationship.

One of the great practices of the season of Advent is the renewal of our relationship with God in Christ by humbly accepting the Sacrament of Penance. It is in this Sacrament that the mercy of God in Christ is given to us and a relationship with Christ, compromised by low key indifference, is brought into proper perspective.

As Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized, the Sacrament of Penance is not an option, but a necessity for us. The Sacrament of Penance is how the mercy of God in Christ enters into our lives and transforms us. But it seems, that for many, listening to what Pope Francis says (as it was with his predecessors) is more of a matter of hearing what we want him to say, rather than actually listening to him and doing what he asks.

If we truly attend to the season of Advent as a time of repentance and renewal we will notice that what the Church asks of us in terms of our preparations for the Christ-Mass is very different than how the culture prepares itself for Christmas.

For the Church, this time is about Christ, while for the culture, it is about ourselves. For the Church, this time is about what God wants, while for the culture it is about getting what we want. For the Church, this time is about the reality of God’s love coming to us in the flesh, while for the culture, it’s all about a fantasy that takes the form of a consumer product.

There is great pressure on the Church to keep its unique celebration under wraps and behind closed doors. But how can we do that and truly call ourselves faithful to Christ who did not hide his love away, but made it accessible to us in real flesh and real blood?

One last insight:

The great saints and sages of the Church remind us that Christ reveals himself in past, present and future. In the past, he revealed himself to us as a man. In the present, he makes himself known in the Church. In the future, he will meet us face to face.

Advent is about all three revelations. And all three revelations are about knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ.

And all three revelations beg each of us to answer truthfully: Do I know Christ? Do I love Christ? Do I serve Christ?

It is now Advent and it is time for us to come to terms with our answers to these questions.

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Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time (November 29th, 2014)

Today’s excerpt from the New Testament Book of Revelation is meant to be understood in reference to a text from the Old Testament- the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.

In the concluding chapters of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel envisions the temple of heaven revealed on earth, from which flows a life giving stream of living water rushing forth into the world, and in the wake of this mighty torrent, the world is purified and redeemed.

This is what the Book of Revelation presents to us today, a vision of the temple of heaven come to earth, at the center of the temple is the Lamb of God, Christ the Lord, and from this temple, flows a river of living water that nourishes a garden, the trees of which impart healing and life. This temple and its garden are the paradise of the lost Eden restored.   It is in this temple, that humanity meets God, face to face, and basks in the light of heavenly illumination. God and humanity, Christ and his Church, share communion with one another. The long estrangement of creation from Creator, humanity from God, has been overcome.

Yesterday, I spoke about the Book of Revelation as being a vision of how God in Christ sees the realities of heaven and earth. The strange visions of the Book of Revelation impart God in Christ’s perspective, and his vision, his perspective, exceeds the narrow and confining ways that we look at the world.

The Book of Revelation is an invitation to come out of our constricted and confining vision, out of our darkness and into Christ’s own wonderful light, to move from our place in the shadows of self imposed illusions and into his reality.

In this regard, what the seer of the Book of Revelation describes to you today is the Mass, as seen from the perspective of Christ.

Now I know that for many, the experience of the Mass might be prosaic, banal, ordinary, made even more so, by our insistence that the mysteries of the Mass be delivered on our terms.

As a result, the Mass might not seem, at least from our worldly vision, to be much of anything at all.

Today’s excerpt from the Book of Revelation should shock us out of our complacency. The Mass is everything that the Book of Revelation describes it to be. Heaven meeting earth. God and humanity, Christ and his Church, come face to face. What was lost of a paradise long ago is restored and a rushing torrent of divine grace pours out as living water for the healing of the world. It is in the Mass that the divine presence of the Lamb of God is not only revealed, but unleashed upon his creation.

If our perspective, our vantage point, for looking at the Mass, never exceeds the narrowness of our own vision, we will never see what God in Christ intends for us to see.

Urgency. Urgency is the great theme of both yesterday’s and today’s Gospel.

Christ the Lord insists that now is the time to accept him, to repent, to change, to begin your life anew. Much in our lives distracts us from the urgency of Christ’s invitation.

Our worldly preoccupations compel us to defer conversion and repentance until later. Our worldliness tempts us to believe that conversion and repentance really don’t matter, and that we are somehow exempt.

In regards to our resistance, in regards to our refusals, today’s Gospel is a warning. Now is the time, Do not delay any longer. Do not presume that you will stand secure when the Son of Man comes.

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Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time (November 28th, 2014)

The frightening and fantastic visions of the Book of Revelation continue today.

Remember, the Book of Revelation, one of the strangest and often misunderstood texts of the Bible, presents in symbolic and metaphorical imagery the victory of Christ over the dark and devilish spiritual and worldly powers, as well as the vindication of the Church, who suffers much from the dark powers that oppose Christ.

The Book of Revelation is not a book of predications about how the planet will one day be destroyed. Instead, it is witness, testimony, to who is really in charge of the world. We think we are in charge. The devil thinks he is charge. It seems that death is in charge. But this is all delusion and illusion and fraud. It is God in Christ who directs the world and despite all our own resistance, the devil’s resistance, and the power of death, God in Christ is bringing all creation to fulfillment in accord with his own mysterious purposes.

His will prevails, and today’s excerpt from the Book of Revelation provides testimony to this truth.

The strange imagery of the Book of Revelation, so hard for us to understand, presents what our world looks like from the vantage point of heaven- the text describes what God in Christ sees and what things look like from his perspective. We might be inclined or tempted to think that evil is winning, or that God is indifferent, or that it is all up to humanity through acts of coercion and force to set a world gone wrong right, but this inclination or temptation comes from a narrowness of our own vision, a refusal to see things through the corrective lenses of God’s revelation.

It is because we prefer our narrow vision to God’s revelation that we so often get things wrong, and find ourselves in opposition to God’s will and purposes.

In this regard, the Book of Revelation is both an invitation and a warning. The Book of Revelation invites us to look at the realities of heaven and earth as God in Christ wants us to see these things. And the Book of Revelation warns us that our indifference to, or refusal of, this invitation is not without severe consequences.

One of the great predicaments or heresies of the age in which we live is a refusal of the revelation of Christ and a preference for a revelation that we construct for ourselves. In this narrowing of our vision, it is not the truth of God or Christ or the Church that matters, but instead, only what we want God or Christ or the Church to be. We elevate our opinions about God or Christ or the Church to the status of dogma while at the same time refusing the dogmas of God’s Revelation.

We claim enlightenment, but we are in reality blinded by the idols we have created and living in the dark. We claim to read the signs of our own times, but fail to read these signs in light of the revelation of Christ.

Delivering ourselves into the hands of idols, we make ourselves the enemies of Christ, and in doing so, find ourselves standing against the very one who can save us from ourselves and bereft of a vision of a new Jerusalem, and the beauty of the wedding feast of Christ and his Church.

All this is a consequence of a refusal to see, a refusal to accept the revelation of God, and with it, a refusal of Christ.

Yet our vision need not be so narrow.

Christ the Lord invites us repeatedly to conversion, what the Gospel calls metanoia, which can be translated to mean “see things differently”. Now is that moment. The Gospel does not affirm us as we are, but insists that we change- and do so now. Now is the time to see things differently.

The opportunity for conversion is now, not later. What Christ offers us can become a missed opportunity. The Book of Revelation, indeed the Gospel, impresses upon us the consequences of that missed opportunity.

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Solemnity of Christ the King (November 23rd, 2014)

Today the Church throughout the world testifies that Jesus Christ is the true king of the world, indeed, he is king of all creation.

What does this mean?

We don’t have a king ruling over our culture, and as such to call Christ the King might seem archaic and abstract rather than something real and relevant.

After all, the rulers of our culture are politicians, financiers and celebrities, and none of these can really serve as a means of understanding Christ the King (in fact, many of these rulers are less like Christ and more like the anti-Christ).

If the rulers of our culture aren’t the examples then what does the Church mean by calling Christ the King?

We need to understand this because we Christians believe that we are servants of Christ the King. Our lives belong to him and once called into relationship with him, we give our lives over to him, recognizing that he has an authority over us that no other power can have.

And further, the reality that we are all servants of Christ the King presses upon us with great weight in terms of what we believe (or should believe) about the Church.

Christ proclaims the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the people.

God is the ruler of his creation Christ’s proclamation of the Kingdom of God is saying precisely this. And the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Christ is not simply an other- worldly reality that exists in a heaven far, far away. The Kingdom of God is that heavenly kingdom, but it is also here on earth.

The Church is an extension of Christ’s kingdom in this world. He makes his disciples stewards of this kingdom, but we are not the rulers of the Church- the Church belongs to Christ. It is not something that we govern for our own purposes, but instead we are stewards of the Church. Christ is the King of the Church, not us. He is the Master and we are his servants.

The Church flourishes when this relationship is understood and accepted. The Church falters when it this relationship is distorted and refused.

But what kind of king is Christ?

To answer this question the Church directs our attention, not to culture, but to the Scriptures. It is within the great testaments of the Bible, Old and New, which we can discern properly what kind of king the Lord Jesus is and what is kingdom is all about.

Our first reference point for understanding King Jesus comes from the Old Testament, from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was a priest of the religion of Israel, who witnessed the great catastrophe of Jerusalem’s destruction by the armies of Babylon in the year 587 BC.

Ezekiel interpreted this event theologically and insisted that that catastrophe had its origins in the refusal of the Israelites to accept the God of Israel as their true king.

Instead, they made deals with their own versions of our politicians, financiers and celebrities and sought to rule Israel themselves. They paid lip service to God’s authority over their lives, even building God a magnificent temple, a noble endeavor, but too often they used that temple as a means to imprison God, to hem in his authority, keeping God in that temple and out of their lives.

This refusal of God as the true king led to disaster and now that the bottom has completely fallen out, Ezekiel testifies to the Israelites that God will be coming to make himself the king. God has had it with all these royal pretenders and will use the catastrophe of 587 BC to drive these fakes and frauds out. God will be the king of Israel.

This is prophecy. Ezekiel is looking into the future and he sees God coming into the world as the king.

We Christians believe that this prophecy is fulfilled in the revelation of Christ.

Think about this Christians- you believe that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Christ the Lord is not just one of many great men of history, he is God- God who has come into this world to be the king. In Jesus Christ, the one true God reveals himself as the one, true king!

And he is a real king, with real power and how does he show that power?

For the answer to that question we turn to our second scripture, an excerpt from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

In this scripture, St. Paul makes a stunning claim- Jesus Christ has power over death.

How does he know this?

He has seen Christ risen from the dead.

In his resurrection from the dead, Christ displays a power that no worldly power has- the power to rise from the dead.

Now, this claim of St. Paul is essential to what the Church believes about the Lord Jesus. Jesus Christ is still alive. We Christians do not reverence the Lord Jesus as a symbol or honor his memory as one remembers the dead.

Instead, we believe we are even right now in relationship to Jesus Christ as a living, divine person. It is not history from long ago that our faith is all about, but a relationship with Jesus Christ right now. For us Christians there isn’t some Jesus of history located somewhere in the past and a Christ of faith that we celebrate in songs, symbols and stories.

That kind of division misses the point.

There isn’t a Jesus of history and a Christ of faith- there is just the Lord Jesus, a living, divine person, who lives now and forever. This Lord Jesus accepted a human nature and lived a real human life, he did this at a particular time and in a particular place. Jesus is real and he is God, and he doesn’t just live in the past, but he lives right now, and forever.

This is what Christians came to understand that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is all about. The resurrection reveals that Jesus Christ is alive, not as an idea or a feeling or as a symbol, but as a living, divine person.

And this living, divine person has power.

And King Jesus demonstrates this power, a divine power, a power greater than any power in this world, a power greater than that of the devil, a power greater than death itself in his resurrection from the dead! King Jesus has the power to bring life out of death and good out of evil. That’s what his resurrection reveals about his power as our king!

Why is this important?

Because death is so often wielded as a weapon and threat by the powers of the world and Christ reveals in the most vivid way possible, that he has a power that renders the threat of death ultimately empty. Death may indeed come, and the powers of the world may even inflict death upon us, but we serve a king more powerful than death, a king who can draw life out of death and good out of evil. That’s real power and it is the power of Christ revealed in his resurrection!

Now, we know the Lord Jesus is King, and now we know what kind of power he has, but what does he want us to do? Kings command and the Lord Jesus has commands for his servants. We are the servants of King Jesus and what does he want us to do?

For the answer to that question, we must consider carefully and seriously the words of King Jesus himself in his Gospel.

What does he tell us? “As often as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”

King Jesus wants us to serve him, but so that we can do so, he places his presence among us- not where the ruling powers of the world would expect it to be. The Lord Jesus makes himself present in the poor and insists that in serving the poor, we serve him.

And so he commands us: Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Shelter the homeless. Visit the imprisoned. Take care of the sick. Bury the dead.

King Jesus commands us: Teach the ignorant. Counsel the Doubtful.

Call sinners to conversion. Bear wrongs patiently. Forgive one another. Comfort the afflicted. Pray for the living and the dead.

This is what King Jesus wants us to do.

Are we doing what he commands?

Remember, he is the king, we are the servants. The Church is his kingdom, and we are the stewards of his kingdom- not the owners.

We might have lots of ideas about what the Church should be and do. We might want things from the Church. But what does King Jesus want? What does King Jesus command us to be and to do?

Our marching orders are direct and King Jesus couldn’t be more clear.

I’ll leave you with this image.

A friend of mine, the Dominican spiritual master, Father Paul Murray once was meeting with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the greatest and most powerful person in the Church in the last century.

The world knows her as Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa knew King Jesus and served him as he commanded.

Once, in a meeting with Father Paul, she took his hand and counted out on his fingers these words: “YOU DID IT TO ME”.

Take out your hand right now. “YOU DID IT TO ME.”

Father Paul told me he never looked at his hand the same way after that.

Neither should we.

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Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (November 21st, 2014)

Today the Church celebrates a mysterious event remembered as the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This event is celebrated both in the Catholic Church of the West and the Orthodox Churches of the East and its origins take us back in time to the earliest centuries of the Church’s life.

The Presentation recalls the dedication of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a child to God, as her parents, graced with foresight about the extraordinary mission their daughter would bear, brought her to the great temple of Jerusalem and declared before the priests that the life of their child would belong to the Lord.

This event is not recalled in the Scriptures, but has been remembered and celebrated by faithful Christians for many centuries.

The scripture that the Church assigns as the first reading for today’s Mass is an excerpt from the book of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah.

Zechariah lived during a time of restoration and renewal. The Israelites returned to their ancestral lands after a long exile in Babylon. Remember, one of the pivotal events of the Old Testament is when the city of Jerusalem was conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 587 BC. Zechariah is a priest who returns to the land of Israel around the year 520 BC and sets about rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem.

This context helps us to make sense of today’s scripture in which Zechariah foresees the return of the divine presence to his newly rebuilt sanctuary. Remember, the temple of Jerusalem was not just a civic center or faith based entertainment venue but the place where heaven came down to earth and the divine presence of God had a home.

The Church presents this text from Zechariah as indicating how the apostolic faith understands the mission of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she would literally become in her own body a temple for God. In her body, heaven came to earth and the divine presence of God had a home. The body of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the place where the Lord God “stirs forth from his holy dwelling”.

The Church believes that the Blessed Virgin Mary had been set apart for this mission even before she was born. She was predestined to be a living sanctuary for God in Christ, and through her, the divine presence of God would be revealed to the world as Christ the Lord.

This signals to us that while the Blessed Virgin Mary is like us inasmuch as she is totally and completely human (the Blessed Virgin Mary is not a goddess or a demi-goddess) yet she has been given a mission that is and will always be unique. None of us will ever be the Mother of God. None of us will ever be related to Christ as she is related to him. She is, as the poet William Wordsworth aptly praised her, “our tainted nature’s solitary boast”.

Yet, as Christ reminds us in the Gospel, inasmuch as we conform our minds and hearts to his will, we are like the Blessed Virgin Mary, even if our mission is different from hers.

And further, when we accept the divine presence of the Lord Jesus in his Blessed Sacrament with reverence and love, we become ourselves, like the Mother of God, living sanctuaries and bearers of the divine presence of Christ into the world.

On this day on which the Church recalls the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we recall her mission and re-dedicate ourselves to our own mission in Christ. Let us conform our wills to Christ’s will and in our humble acceptance of the Blessed Sacrament, create in our own bodies a sanctuary for the Lord, so that, we might, in imitation of the Mother of God, bear into the world the life and presence of Christ the Lord.

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Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time (November 21st, 2014)

Our adventures in the Book of Revelation continue and today, John, the seer of the Book of Revelation, hears the command of God and is instructed to receive a scroll from the hands of an angel, and oddly enough, is asked to consume that scroll- to eat it.

The scroll represents the revelation of God concerning his will and purposes in regards to the dark powers of the world- these powers resist Christ and seek to undermine his Kingdom. They subvert the work of the Church, even violently opposing the faithful and their mission.

Further, these dark powers are not just the machinations of wicked men and women, but more sinister forces- what we call the devil and also the power of death, which is often used by both worldly and fallen spiritual powers to frighten us into submission and force us to despair and abandon our faith in Christ.

The revelation of the scroll is sweet to the taste because it proclaims Christ’s ultimate victory. It causes the seer to experience sickness in his stomach, because it compels the seer to face down the fallen powers of the world- not an easy mission.

The seer of the Book of Revelation, John, has as his mission to proclaim to the fallen powers of the world that their time is nearly up and their authority over the world has come to an end. Christ is coming and he is coming to set things right.

Christ comes into the world to set things right in his Church. In the face of the violence, cruelty and indifference of fallen worldly powers, Christ bears through his Church his divine power- the power of forgiveness, kindness and care. The powers of the fallen world recoil in horror the Church’s displays of Christ’s divine power, for in their revelation, the fallen world knows that their time is at an end.

The saints manifest Christ’s divine power in a particular way, especially the martyrs, who literally give up their lives rather than pay obeisance to the fallen powers of the world.   The witness of the martyrs frightens fallen powers more than anything else because their willingness to die displays that there are greater and more important realities than the wealth, pleasure, power and honors that this world offers.

We may not be called to be martyrs, to literally die for the sake of Christ, but we all have received from the hand of an angel the same scroll that the seer of the Book of Revelation received- that scroll is the revelation of God in Christ and our reception of this revelation has given us a mission to bear the power of Christ into the world.

This power is Christ’s word of truth and love and that power is life changing and world changing power. It is our mission to bring that power into the world, even risking, if circumstances demand, confrontation with those fallen powers that seek to resist and undermine the power of God in Christ.

Christ’s lament in his Gospel over Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple signals his foreknowledge of the terrifying events of 70 AD, when the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem, conquered the city, laid it waste, and leveled to temple to the ground.

In is impossible to fully appreciate and understand the revelation of the Lord Jesus without appreciating and understanding the temple. Our religion, our worship, is temple religion and temple worship. The Mass displays this to us. Yet our temple is not an earthly shrine, built of wood and stone, but our temple is a heavenly sanctuary, that becomes real and present to us as we adore and receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

Though all earthly shrines pass away, the temple of Christ is eternal, for it is divine person of the Lord Jesus himself- who makes himself the temple, the high priest, the altar and the sacrifice. It is all this we receive in the Mass.

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Thursday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time (November 20th, 2014)

All this week and into next week the Church will present as the first scripture for daily Mass excerpts from the New Testament Book of Revelation- one of the most fascinating and strangest books in all of the Holy Scriptures.

Popular culture construes the Book of Revelation as being about the end of the world, and by this is meant the destruction of the planet by God. In this distorting and limited interpretation, God and the devil enter into a final conflict and the world is collateral damage in their struggle. The best hope for humanity is that God in his mercy might exempt some of us from this horror by “rapturing” a select few into a heavenly realm, thus freeing this elect from a terrifying fate, while those people unfortunate enough to remain endure unspeakable torment.

This distortion of the Book of Revelation is fantasy fiction, a novelization of the Biblical text, rather than it’s authentic meaning.

The meaning of the Book of Revelation is properly understood first by understanding the genre in which it is written- the genre is that of what is called “apocalyptic”, which means that through a highly stylized narrative, rich with metaphors and symbols, God reveals through a Biblical author truths about past, present and future circumstances.

Apocalypse or apocalyptic doesn’t mean destruction, it literally means a revelation, a revelation from God in Christ.

In terms of the Book of Revelation this means that in terms of the past, the symbols and metaphors of the Book of Revelation refer to real events that the Church endured because of the persecution Christians suffered from the power of Rome and how Christian set their hopes in Christ to guide them and see them through a terrible time.

In terms of the present, it refers to how God in Christ acts in the midst of the real, visceral, and raw facts of human events, politics, culture and economics. In this respect all the imagery of the Book of Revelation demonstrates how God in Christ is acting, even now, to bring a world that resists his revelation, to conversion and repentance.

And in terms of the future, we see in the fantastic imagery of the Book of Revelation the consummation of all things in Christ, meaning that in the end, despite all the resistance that the powers of the devil, death and the world can muster against Christ and his Church, he is in charge, he is guiding and directing all events in accord with his purposes, and he has the final word.

The ultimate message or meaning of the Book of Revelation is not that the world will be destroyed, but that the world will be perfected, fulfilled and transformed in and by Christ.

The imagery from the Book of Revelation is that of a scroll that is sealed. This scroll represents God’s revelation concerning his will and purposes and that the scroll is sealed indicates that the meaning of this revelation has been revealed by Christ- he is the one who opens the scroll and reveals to us the will and purposes of God.

Further, there is a glimpse into heaven, with the revelation of God’s throne and the Lamb- who is Christ the Lord. The four living creatures are the Evangelists of the Gospels and the elders are the Apostles and their successors. The seven eyes and seven horns on the Lamb represent Christ’s divine omniscience and omnipotence. The throne of the Lamb is situated in the heavenly temple, where the Lamb is worshipped and his glory is revealed.

This strange and fantastic display happens in a manner you can see and understand in the Mass, which is our participation in the worship of heaven here on earth. Here, in the Mass the Gospel is revealed, in communion with the Faith of the Apostles and the Lamb is enthroned, in his tabernacle, on his altar, and ultimately in the sanctuary of our own bodies.

Yes, here in the Mass, you unlock all the hidden secrets to the Book of Revelation.

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