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.