Friday, November 28, 2014

The good apocalypse

The linguist in me would love to track down when it was that we transformed the word apocalypse into something horrific. It only goes to show how negative we can be.

I always suggest that if anyone is going to read the Book of Revelation they start with Chapter 21.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.*
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."
And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."

The entire rest of the book is written to lead us to this point. All the struggles, all of the conflict, and even the final cleansing tells us how to prepare to be part of the new world. Even the very last verse of the Book of revelation is positive. Whenever we celebrate mass the priest invokes God's presence directing the final words of the Book of Revelation to the people in front of him.

The Bible text reads:
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.
And so the priest prays,
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

After all we are called to be saints.

The Book of Revelation is not a Book of fear but a Book of hope. The only people who should be afraid are those who choose to do evil.

Three times 20:12, 20:13 and finally in 22:12 we are repeated told that we will be judged not according to our profession of faith, our memorization of the bible or the catechism, but according to our έργα (erga) works.

We should immerse ourself in the word. We must receive the grace of the sacraments. But they are not ends they are means. God has given us his word. He gives us the sacraments, so that we may act, so that our works may show us to truly be the saints.

Our goal each day is to keep our eyes fixed on the prize, the new and eternal Jerusalem, and not just walk but run toward it. When we step off the path or find we are headed in the wrong direction, turn around. God will always point the way. The Bible serves as our GPS, in particular the gospels. There is no reason for us to loose our way. We do it by choice. We let ourselves be distracted.

Today let us get a clear image in our minds of the goal, the new and external Jerusalem. Picture it more clearly than you have ever pictured anything in your life, and keep the image always in mind. Today is Black Friday, the day of the year when every merchant is trying to convince us that we need their shiny object. It is the day par excellence for us to exercise the virtues of prudence and temperance.