Archive for the ‘Revelation Unveiled’ category

Revelation Unveiled: Have You Died?

May 22, 2012

St. John fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead (see Revelation 1:17).

Revelation 17:1, 19:10; 21:9 & 22:8 refer to John falling down to worship one of the angels who held the bowls filled with the seven plagues–
but each time the prostration seems to have been voluntary,
and the angels stopped him, telling him to get up, to worship God alone.

In Revelation 1:17, John falls down as though dead
not typically a voluntary thing!
And Jesus doesn’t stop John or tell him to get up.
He simply reaches out His right hand, touches him,
tells him not to fear, and gives him a mission:
“Now write what you see.”

There’s an element of resurrection here.
Given that John’s falling as though dead
was a direct consequence of seeing Jesus
–and experiencing the sword coming from His mouth!–
one could propose that John was pierced, penetrated,
slain by that sword
(as we should be every time we encounter this living Word).

In some sense, he died.

Nor was he resuscitated.
He didn’t go back to the same old life he had before,
to doing his own thing.
What he did during and after that vision
was purely the King’s business–
a whole new life.

That’s what Baptism is.

Do you not know
that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into His death?
We were buried therefore with Him by Baptism
into death,
so that as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life
-Romans 6:3-4

The Baptized have died.
Our natural way of life, our “old self”
is dead.

I have been crucified with Christ;
it is no longer I who live,
but Christ Who lives in me;
and the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God
Who loved me and gave Himself for me.
-Galatians 2:20

Our natural life has a way of resuscitating–
of going back to life as usual.

We need resurrection,
a whole new life in Christ,
Christ living in me.

This is ongoing.

Every choice
needs to pass through the crucifying waters of Baptism.
Is this my old natural life
or the life of Christ?

I can ask of every decision,
“Have you died?”
“Whose life is this?”

An old song comes to mind (I haven’t been able to track down the artist):

Have you died?
Have you laid down your life?
Have you died
and risen to new life?
The love of Jesus Christ
is worth the dying price.
It’s a gift that you can open all your life.
Have you died?

Those who have died this death,
however repeatedly,
need not fear “the second death,”
the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:14).

And they will find that in this life, too,
those who lose themselves
find themselves (see Matthew 16:25).
Living the life of Christ,
the life of divine love,
is its own reward!

St. John fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead.
That’s not a bad way to start the morning’s prayer,
flat on my face before the Living One,
the One Who died and is alive forevermore,
Who reaches out in love to touch me, to tell me not to fear,
and to entrust me with His life,
with His mission for the day.

Now tell me:
Have you died…today?

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Revelation Unveiled: We Were Never Meant to Follow the Beast

May 22, 2012

Much has been made of “666,” “the number of the beast”
from Revelation 13:18.

I’d learned from the Great Adventure that “6”
is symbolic of beasts in general
because that’s the day on which they were created…
and God established then & there
that no beast is a suitable partner for the man.

The man gave names to all the cattle,
all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals;
but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man
-Genesis 2:20

“666” is a trinity of 6’s,
a “trinity” of the beast,
a natural parody of the Trinity of three divine Persons.

Revelation 14ff makes it rather clear
that bad things happen to those who follow the beast.
This isn’t news–
we got into trouble back in Eden
by obeying a beast rather than God!
(see Genesis 3)

But we keep making the same old mistake.
Our culture today says we’re just beasts
and should be expected to act like them,
often holding them up as role models,
saving animals at the expense of persons.

It shouldn’t be too surprising
that our social life (or rather, social death)
has become inhumane.

We were never meant to follow the beast.

Revelation Unveiled: Precious Stones!

May 21, 2012

And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem…
And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper stone: but the city itself pure gold, like to clear glass.
And the foundations of the wall of the city
were adorned with all manner of precious stones.
The first foundation, jasper:
the second, sapphire:
the third, a calcedony:
the fourth, an emerald.
The fifth, sardonyx:
the sixth, sardius:
the seventh, chrysolite:
the eighth, beryl:
the ninth, a topaz:
the tenth, a chrysoprasus:
the eleventh, a jacinth:
the twelfth, an amethyst.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls
-Revelation 21:2, 18-21

Putting on the mind of a child…

So what’s the significance of these stones?
What do they look like?
What colors are they?

I looked.
People have been debating that very question
since the days of the Early Church!
There is a connection with the precious stones of the ephod,
which the high priest wore when ministering in the temple,
each stone engraved with the name
of one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 28:15-21).
But we really don’t know which Hebrew or Greek word
refers to which stone, except that they were precious
and they were associated with worship in the temple.

I did pick up one tidbit, though.
The Greek word for amethyst, literally means “un-drunk” (as in sober)!
In contrast, the harlot of Babylon
(who obviously has no place in this celestial city!)
was drunk with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6).

Let us live honorably as in daylight;
not in carousing and drunkenness
-Romans 13:13

We belong neither to darkness nor to night;
therefore let us not be asleep like the rest,
but awake and sober
-I Thessalonians 5:5-6

A night or two later my prince and I read this in Evening Prayer:

Come to the Lord, a living stone,
rejected by men but approved, nonetheless,
and precious in God’s eyes.
You too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit,
into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to god through Jesus Christ.
-I Peter 2:4-5

Precious stones!

I’ve always thought of these stones as just “any old rock”
that happened to fit the spot…
but God calls us precious stones,
shining and colorful foundations of the New Jerusalem!

You form a building
which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the capstone.
Through Him the whole structure is fitted together
and takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord;
in Him you are being built into this temple,
to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit
-Ephesians 2:20-22

(This is the Church–see also Ephesians 5:24-32,
Revelation 19:7, 21:9-10)

He predicted it back in Isaiah’s time:

O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones
-Isaiah 54:11-12

(This immediately follows the chapter on the Suffering Servant,
describing Jesus’ Passion, which made our perfection possible.)

It is our destiny to be beautiful,
valuable beyond price:
shining, radiant, colorful, precious stones
gems! Jewels!

But you know…
when you find gems in their natural state
they’re not all that impressive.
They look like “just another dirty ol’ rock.”

It’s only after they’ve been cleaned and cut,
polished and mounted in a suitable setting
that their true radiance shows.

In our natural state, we’re not all that impressive either–
just another dirty ol’ rock.

you are dust
and to dust you shall return
-Genesis 3:19

God knows our potential.
He created it!
He also knows what it takes to fulfill it.

That’s what trials are for.

There is cause for rejoicing here.
You may for a time
have to suffer the distress of many trials:
but this is so that your faith,
which is more precious
than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold,
may be its genuineness lead to praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ appears
-I Peter 1:6-7

One day God showed St. Catharine of Siena
the beauty of a soul in the state of grace.
It was so beautiful that she could not look on it;
the brightness of that soul dazzled her.
“O my God!” she cried out,
“if I did not know that there is only one God,
I should think that this was one!”
The blessed Raymond, her confessor,
asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able,
the beauty of the soul she had seen.
St. Catharine thought of the sweet light of the morning,
and of the beautiful colors of the rainbow,
but that soul was far more beautiful.
She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun,
but the light which beamed from that soul
was far brighter.
She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily
and of the fresh snow,
but that is only an earthly whiteness.
The soul which she had seen
was bright with the whiteness of Heaven,
such as there is not to be found on earth.
“My father,” she answered,
“I cannot find anything in this world
that can give you the smallest idea
of what I have seen.
Oh! if you could but see the beauty
of a soul in the state of grace,
you would sacrifice your life a hundred times
for its salvation!
No, nothing in this world can bear any resemblance to it.
I asked the angel who was with me,” she continued,
“what had made that soul so beautiful,
and he answered me:
It is the image and likeness of God in that soul,
and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful.
The Catechism In Examples, Vol. 4

That’s our destiny.
It’s worth the cost!

Revelation Unveiled: A Whole New Vision!

May 21, 2012

I finally finished reading through the Haydock Bible
about a month ago–
which means I plowed through the book of Revelation again.

Revelation is generally been a book I’ve avoided.
It’s so hard to understand, so symbolic, so confusing…
and it’s about the end of time,
which I can’t predict anyway
& isn’t likely to happen in my lifetime.
People get all sorts of strange ideas from Revelation…

Every other time I’ve read it,
I’ve gotten bogged down in the end-times speculation,
the sensationalism & generally been frustrated.

I just didn’t “get it.”

This time I decided to forget trying to “figure it out”
to take a step back and just look at the big picture.

We have scenes in Heaven & on earth.
Which looks better?
Heaven!
Earth looks pretty bad.

That’s a good start!

We have scenes of good and evil.
Which are more appealing?
Good, of course, although I’m noticing that everybody suffers.
It’s just that the suffering of the good is temporary
& followed by eternal glory,
while the suffering of the evil starts on earth
& continues forever
(more motivation to aim for Heaven!).

Then I put on my prince’s Michael Card cd “Unveiled Hope,”
which is based on Revelation,
and was struck by the drama.

Hm…

All this is reminding me of childrens’ stories:
the villain and hero (so obviously black and white!), the monsters,
the noble struggle and unexpected success (the Lamb wins?!),
the bridegroom and bride, the drama,
the vivid color, the happy ending…
all written by St. John, the apostle
who kept referring to his readers as “little children”
(I John 2:1, 12, 18, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21),
as a message from the One Who said,

Amen I say to you, unless you be converted,
and become as little children,
you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven
-Matthew 18:3

I’ve been coming at this all wrong!

I need to scrap the mind of “the scholar”
and come to this book with the mind of a child…
but that doesn’t mean I stop asking questions!
Children (you parents know this!)
ask LOTS of questions!

And from my study of the Catechism (paragraphs 115-118),
I know some good questions to ask about any verse of Scripture
(after, of course, looking into its literal meaning):

What does this tell me about Jesus?
What does this tell me about how I should live (morality)?
What does this tell me about my destiny?

I’ve already started answering those!

I started to catch a vision of Revelation
as a sort of “spiritual lens”
through which to look at everything that happens here on earth,
to catch God’s celestial vision of salvation history
from beginning to end,
blowing away the darkness that covers the earth (see Isaiah 60:2),
destroying

the veil that veils all peoples;
the web that is woven over all nations
-Isaiah 25:7

revealing

The mystery which hath been hidden
from ages and generations,
but now is made manifest to His saints
-Colossians 1:26

The veil has been torn (Matthew 27:51).

I also noted
(as I never had before!)
that the book opens and closes
with a blessing for the one who reads and obeys it!
(Revelation 1:3, 22:6)
I know of no other book of Sacred Scripture that does that.
And God says He’s sending this message
because time running out–
we need this now.

I’ve been in Revelation ever since
and expect to be absorbing it for a good long time!


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