Tag Archives: Book of Revelations

Thanksgiving’s Coming

Thanksgiving Day’s coming Thursday in the USA and many will be with family and friends. We have just come through a brutally fought election and I wonder if some Thanksgiving gatherings this year will be as peaceful as in other years. Will fights continue over the table?

Our Mass readings these days are from the Book of Revelations and Luke’s gospel where Jesus speaks of the last times. They’re frightening, upsetting times.  “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” (Luke 21,11)

Notice, though, the promise of peace found continually through these readings announcing chaos and destruction. “Not a hair of your head will be destroyed,” Jesus says in the gospel today. (Luke 21,19) God’s with us in the chaos.

In our Reading from Revelations today people are singing songs of victory. No matter how chaotic the times, God’s there in them, working his purpose in the chaos. The battle’s won, not lost, through the abiding power of God.

“Great and wonderful are your works,
Lord God almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O king of the nations.”  (Revelations 15, 4)

We can sit down at Thanksgiving singing a victory song and remembering that not a hair of our head will be destroyed.

I see this year on Thanksgiving Day the church celebrates the feast of the Vietnamese martyrs killed in the 18th century. Saint Andrew Dung– Lac and 117 others were put to death in a cruel persecution of Christians. One of the characteristics of Christian martyrdom is the joy of the martyr in the midst of a frightful situation. Here’s a letter of Saint Paul Le-Bao-Tinh, one of the martyrs:

“I, Paul, in chains for the name of Christ, wish to relate to you the trials besetting me daily, in order that you may be inflamed with love for God and join with me in his praises. The prison here is a true image of everlasting hell: to cruel tortures of every kind – shackles, iron chains, manacles – are added hatred, vengeance, calumnies, obscene speech, quarrels, evil acts, swearing, curses, as well as anguish and grief. But the God who once freed the three children from the fiery furnace is with me always; he has delivered me from these tribulations and made them sweet, for his mercy is for ever.

“In the midst of  torments, that usually terrify others, I am, by the grace of God, full of joy and gladness, because I am not alone – Christ is with me.”

“I am not alone–Christ is with me.”

I suppose we can say that no matter bad we see the times, we can sit down at Thanksgiving with joy.

 

 

 

Sunday Readings: Fifth Week (C)

Acts 14, 24-27
Revelations 21,1-5
John 13,31-33,34-35

Jesus came to cast the fire of love on the earth. A few verses earlier in John’s gospel, which we read today, Jesus gives Judas “a morsel” of bread just before the disciple leaves the supper table and goes out into the night. Even as the disciple prepares to betray him Jesus offers him a sign of love. Before that he knelt before Peter and washed the feet of the disciple who would deny him three times. The rest, confused about the betrayal taking place, cannot grasp the love Jesus offers. They’re like children who do not understand. They’re like us. “I give you an new commandment,” Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Love is the sign and the key.

The Risen Lord brings new life to all of creation as well as to humanity, according to the Book of Revelations. John sees “a new heaven and a new earth.” Creation is not restored to its original state, but transformed and perfected by God to be a new habitation for humanity. “God will dwell with them and they shall be his people.” A new Jerusalem adorned as a bride will be its city. No evil will be found in this new creation.

Revelations rejects the belief that God sees creation as evil and will destroy it in the future, a belief some Christians today unfortunately hold. In Christ God promises and will bring about a renewal of creation and our task is to work for its renewal. That means we don’t turn away from the world in which we live and simply pursue our own aims. We are called to work in this world for justice and good so that God’s kingdom will come.

In the Acts of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas say to the embattled churches of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch “We must undergo many trials if we are to enter the reign of God.” They install “elders” for the better organization of these churches, but the goal of the churches goes beyond good organization. Their goal is to work for the reign of God as they undergo many trials. Like seed, the church grows in this world, and we hardly recognize its growth.