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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