Breaking Open the Word: Revelation Ch. 21-22



Sunday, January 13th, 2019 -- Revelation Chapters 21-22

               At long last, we have reached the final chapters of the Book of Revelation – and what a finale they are! As one Sister put it, Rev. 21-22 is “one of the most concentrated passages of consolation in all of Scripture.” Overwhelming and glorious visions describe the “new heaven and new earth,” where “God will wipe away every tear” and the Lamb will finally wed His bride, the New Jerusalem.

 However, the real “heart of the matter” is found in a deceptively simple verse: “This is God’s dwelling among men. He shall dwell with them and they shall be His people and He shall be their God who is always with them.” (Rev. 21:3) Anyone familiar with the Bible will recognize the phrase “they will be my people and I will be their God” as a recurring theme throughout the Old Testament, one which pops up so often that we can be tempted to skim over it. However, in our discussion we reflected on how the constant repetition of this one sentence shows the true depth of God’s desire for our union with Him. In the words of one Sister, “from the very beginning, God desires our salvation even more than we do!” What is even more astounding, He does not simply want us to be His people: “I will be His God and he shall be my son.” (21:7) This truth connects beautifully with the feast of the Baptism that we just celebrated; Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan calls us to reflect on our own Baptism, when we were made not just servants, but true children of God! And lest all this seem too good to be true, Revelation reassures us not once, but twice: “these words are trustworthy and true!” (21:5, 22:6)

We also discussed that marvelous verse in Chapter 21, “See, I make all things new!” (vs. 5) Those of us who are familiar with Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ will forever connect these words to the Fourth Station of the Cross. In the film, when Our Lady meets Jesus on the way to Calvary, Christ speaks these very words to her – a powerful reminder that it is through His Passion, death, and Resurrection that He “makes new” the universe!

In a very real way, the “re-creation” of the world is already underway, and it makes progress every time a soul is brought into new life through Baptism or Confession. In fact, all of our growth in the life of grace is a participation in the new creation. However, the birth of the new always comes from the death of the old, and sometimes the latter is all we can see in the moment. As one Sister noted, there seems to be a brief period in Revelation where the old creation has been destroyed but the new has not yet come, and this “uncomfortable” situation can mirror our own experience of spiritual “incompleteness.” Yet we are not alone in this; Christ Himself on the Cross was suspended literally and spiritually between heaven and earth, and it is His victory over death that assures us all trials will one day have their glorious reward in the new creation!

It has been a wonderful  five months exploring the Book of Revelation, and we’re glad you’ve been with us on the journey!  We hope to continue our Scripture Sharing series on this blog, but we won’t begin again until after Mother John Mary and Sister Mary Veronica return from the First General Chapter of the Passionist Nuns (they will be gone January 15th to February 8th). Please keep them and all the capitulars in your prayers for safe travels, and entreat our Lord for great fruits of peace, unity, and sisterly love to come from these historic meetings!