bible blog 1576

The readings are from the Catholic lectionary for daily mass, while the headline is to keep my thinking real:

REVELATION  5:1-10 ©
I, John, saw that in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne there was a scroll that had writing on back and front and was sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a powerful angel who called with a loud voice, ‘Is there anyone worthy to open the scroll and break the seals of it?’ But there was no one, in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, who was able to open the scroll and read it. I wept bitterly because there was nobody fit to open the scroll and read it, but one of the elders said to me, ‘There is no need to cry: the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and he will open the scroll and the seven seals of it.’

Then I saw, standing between the throne with its four animals and the circle of the elders, a Lamb that seemed to have been sacrificed; it had seven horns, and it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits God has sent out all over the world. The Lamb came forward to take the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne, and when he took it, the four animals prostrated themselves before him and with them the twenty-four elders; each one of them was holding a harp and had a golden bowl full of incense made of the prayers of the saints. They sang a new hymn:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll

and break the seals of it,

because you were sacrificed, and with your blood

you bought men for God

of every race, language, people and nation

and made them a line of kings and priests,

to serve our God and to rule the world.’

Jan Van Eyck: Adoration of the lamb

Jan Van Eyck: Adoration of the lamb

Nobody is found at first to open the scroll which will depict God’s victory over evil. Then we are told that the lion of Judah who has won a victory, can open it. But then we are directed to a Lamb which has been sacrificed. This is a beautiful way of telling the reader that Jesus Messiah is worthy to open up the narrative of God’s victory because he is victorious, like a Lion; and his victory has been won by means of self- sacrifice; he is the Lamb. The Lamb binds earth and heaven together as two sides of the one kingdom: on earth he is slaughtered as a witness to God’s love; in heaven he is “in the centre of the throne”, the very agent of God’s rule. The Lamb is praised for his sacrifice which has ramsomed the captives of the evil one and made them into God’s royal priesthood. In this way the vision depicts the Lamb as the supreme witness to God’s love who rescues people from their own and others’ evil. The book of Revelation always insists that praise of God is the appropriate response to God’s goodness. The songs of Revelation may be the first published lyrics of the Christian Assemblies.

The theology of Revelation with its emphasis on the Lamb is comprehensive and subtle. The rule of God is exercised through the Lamb. The spiritual warfare of God is also imaged by the Rider of the White Horse and the armies of St. Michael. These depict the conquering power of the Lamb shared by all who live non-violently for God’s love. The “complete armament of God” of which St Paul speaks in Ephesians 6, is vigorously employed in the book of Revelation, where it is shown as an unfolding of God’s rule through the Lamb

GOSPEL LUKE 19:41-44 ©

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it and said, ‘If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes! Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you – and all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!’  wept

In the book of Revelation, Babylon / Rome is the city of bloodhshed, whereas in the Gospels Jerusalem plays that role. Luke reports this sad prophetic outburst by Jesus. Jerusalem, rejects Jesus who comes with a peaceful message of God’s Rule and ultimately espouses violent holy war, which brings about its destruction by the Romans in 70 BCE. Jesus was not scared to speak of God’s Rule in a country ruled by Caesars and their puppets, but he insisted that it commanded only peaceful struggle.

Today as violence flares in Jerusalem over who is allowed to pray where, (can any true faith prohibit others from praying?) we can see how a regime committed to brutal injustice (Israel)  can trigger violence in its (Palestinian) population. If only the city understood the message of peace. It becomes evident in such cases that only those who sacrifice themselves in peaceful ways, rather than those who sacrifice themselves violently, can represent the rule of God and help create peace.

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