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ENCOURAGEMENT FOR US IN TIMES OF TRIAL

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Apoc. 15:1-4 & Lk. 21:12-19

Saint John saw in Heaven something great, the awesome power of the judgement, wonderful because it represents the final vindication of God’s people and His divine judgement against everything evil. The seven plagues complete God’s wrath. The lesson here is that whenever we fail to repent in answer to God’s initial corrections and judgements, we can be sure that He will escalate our discomfort and hem us in with the purpose of turning us back to Himself. It is an act of His love to protect us from continuing on a course of spiritual self-destruction. But those who fail to respond to His loving rebukes, He will inevitably pour out His final wrath.

The “glass lake” is symbolic of God’s purity, holiness and separation from His Creation. That it was “suffused with fire” suggests the judgement that is to come. The people standing on this lake are not identified. They are likely to have been the martyrs who have overcome the Beast – a reference to the Antichrist.

John writes these victors “were singing the hymn of Moses and the song of the Lamb of God.” The Song of Moses was a celebration of God’s miraculous deliverance from the wrath of the angel of death in Egypt, by means of the blood of lambs applied to the door-frames of their houses. It was also a celebration of God’s deliverance from the Egyptian army as they passed through the Red Sea and their enemies were swept away.

The song of the Lamb emphasizes the redemptive work of Christ and His promise of deliverance through Christ’s blood shed on the Cross. The two songs are a praise of God for Who is and for all He has done.

Jesus is warning us today that following Him will not be easy. There is going to be conflict with authority. Jesus' words have rung true particularly for those who live in countries where the Church has suffered oppression. What about us? We have to face opposition and betrayal, too, and be hated by many. This opposition may take a subtle form: ridicule, contempt, snide remarks, constant attempts to undermine our faith. In enduring all this we will be witnessing to Christ. In times of persecution Jesus tells us not to worry because He will be on our side. We don’t even have to prepare our defence, for the words and the strength we need will be given to us. He assures us how much He cares for us when He says that not even one hair of our head will be harmed without His knowledge.

If we do as Jesus says, and trust Him, we will be rewarded with a place in Heaven. John's vision of Heaven is intended to console us in difficult times and encourage us to keep our sights on the world to come. We must persevere in following Christ while we are here on Earth, looking forward to that time when all Creation will be converted and brought back to God, the Creator. John sees that vast number of saints in Heaven praising God with the words, "How great and wonderful are Your works, Lord God Almighty.” What he is saying to us is just imagine the joy that will be theirs - and long to see yourself numbered among them.

Lord Jesus, we thank You for warning us that following You will not be easy. May we never give up the good fight but persevere to the end, to be numbered among Your saints praising You forever in Heaven.

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