The readings are from the catholic lectionary for daily mass while the headline is meant to keep my thinking real:
“GO HOME JOHNNY FOREIGNER!” XENOPHOBIA AT THE HEARTY OF UK POLICY”
Revelation 22 King James Version (KJV)
22 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
The author of Revelation is often inspired by the visions of Ezekiel, here especially with his vision of the restored temple (Ezekiel chapter 47). He’s not merely using old images but allowing his imagination to be nourished by what the old prophet wrote. His new vision is communicated in simple, skilled language, each phrase adding a detail to the picture. The King James translation reproduces this style much better than any modern translations, because it relives the vision as it is carried from Greek into English. Verse 5 is masterclass in literal and inspired translation. It has to be read aloud to be appreciated and once you have done so you realise that all the modern translators have a tin ear for the rhythm and balance of a sentence.
This is not unimportant, for the vision moves us when we are caught by its language and lifted from our everyday troubles into God’s paradise, which is a garden city, Eden and New Jerusalem together, blessed with water, shade, trees and fruit. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, he was cursed with back-breaking work on the land and she with pain in childbirth and the domination of her husband. Now the curse is lifted. They were kept away from the Tree of Life, but now it is available to all nations. The darkness of chaos had been built into the routine of creation, night succeeding day, but now night and accident are abolished in the one light of God’s goodness. God does not merely remedy the wrongs of the world, but “makes all things new.” Those who have lived against the grain of worldly reality, by the evidence of things not seen, now find that God is not ashamed to be called their God, as he has prepared a city for them.
In comparison with many people I have lived a fortunate life, remaining healthy and well-provisioned into my eighth decade; yet even in this lucky life, there has been so much folly, so much harm done, so many opportunities for goodness missed, so many for evil taken, such considerable sufferings witnessed, above all such barren waste of the substance of life, that I could not have maintained a faith in God without the promise of a new creation. I have always been marking God’s card: this is very well done, but I’m sure you can do better.
Luke 21:34-36 ©
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’
For the gospel writers, Jesus Messiah plays the role of Son of Man, the representative of the saints of the Most High
(Daniel 7). In his earthly life this role involves rejection and suffering-“The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”- but one day he will reurn as the instrument of God’s saving justice. So he is the figure who both ends the church’s year as the one who brings this present world to a end; and begins its new year in Advent as the one who starts the new creation from a stable. If we’re not sure about standing with confidence before the judge, we may pluck up the courage to kneel before the one born in a manger. In either case the bible images keep us from getting bogged down in “debauchery, drunkenness and the cares of life” ( a reasonable description of Christmas?).