Opening the Word: Winning in weakness

By:

When we hear the word “apocalyptic,” images of wrath and destruction come to mind — blockbuster films with malevolent aliens or brain-hungry zombies. The “apocalyptic” refers to the foreboding promise of destruction, the end of the age in which human history comes to a screeching halt.

The Book of Revelation, read during the season of Easter, is known as the Apocalypse. Opening the pages of Revelation, we discover a world threatened by total destruction. There are plagues and the pouring out of divine wrath on the city of Babylon. There is the suffering of the saints, washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Christians have often misread this book, seeing in it a “literal” prediction of the end of history. This is a fundamentalist reading, one that interprets the bizarre images of Revelation as a hidden prophecy about the politics of our day.

This way of reading the Book of Revelation is not entirely off the mark. The Book of Revelation operates through a symbolic theology, one in which the Christian reader is invited to meditate on the perils of power and the evils of empire.

History is full of those drunk on the bloodlust of power. Babylon does not need to be a single nation, existing in but a univocal moment in time. Babylon can be Rome in the first century, Nazi Germany, ISIS, clerics who have forgotten their identities as priests of Jesus Christ, and an American culture of consumerism that operates according to the haves rather than the have-nots. Babylon can be all these things at once.

The Book of Revelation invites Christians to take up a posture toward Babylon of not fighting power with power. The Christian is to meet the evils of empire with the delight of doxology, of praise.

Easter faith is expressed perfectly in the hymns of praise that ring out in the heavenly court in the Book of Revelation. It is not the young, ruddy politician who is worthy of praise. It is not a political program that will save humanity. The only source of power is the Lamb once slain, the sacrifice of divine love that now reigns over heaven and earth. Whether we believe it or not.

Peter and the apostles in the Acts of the Apostles perform this doxology of delight when confronted by authorities in Jerusalem. They preach Christ crucified and raised from the dead. They do not rely on the power of their intellect, their own will and their political savvy. Peter and the apostles rejoice, praising God that they have been invited to share in the sufferings of their Lord and God. Of Our Lord and Our God.

In this sense, the Book of Revelation is the most necessary of readings during the season of Easter. In this strangest of texts, we discover the ripples of the Resurrection in human history. We learn to see the world in light of Easter.

Christ is risen from the dead. Power has been defeated by weakness, by a love that endures unto death. But, of course, there are those who operate as if this is not the case. They operate according to the logic of an empire where only the strong win.

Easter is an apocalyptic season, one in which the hidden logic of this world is revealed for what it is — a lie. It is not power, politics or prestige that is to be worshipped.

The only salvation available to the human race is the adoration of the Lamb once slain, Jesus Christ.

Third Sunday of Easter – May 5, 2019
ACTS 5:27-32, 40B-41
PS 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
RV 5:11-14
JN 21:1-19
OR JN 21:1-14

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Opening the Word: The world’s satisfaction

Friday, May 24, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Scriptural numbers have meaning. In the Book of Revelation, the city of Jerusalem is designated as a city saturated with... Read More

Motu proprio’ provides firm, universal response

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
by: Kurt Martens The document Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), issued motu proprio (“on his own... Read More

Seeking something better

Monday, May 20, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Once upon a time, the Byles family, with Irish origins, lived in England. One son, Thomas, remained in England and was... Read More

Catholic graduates are called to be a collective force for good

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
By: Brian Fraga               As the school year wraps up, tens of... Read More

Can you hear them now?

Monday, May 13, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo During one of his visits to his native Germany early in his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the need for silence in our... Read More

Opening the Word: Church prophecy

Friday, May 10, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley At present, critique of the Church has reached a fever pitch within American society. One cannot read a non-Catholic media... Read More

Green New Deal reframes climate issues

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
By: Brian Fraga The so-called Green New Deal, particularly because of its lead congressional sponsor, is controversial and polarizing, but the... Read More

Gift to the Church

Monday, May 6, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion My first visit to this storied church was long ago. I was a seminarian on holiday touring Europe. I have returned to... Read More

Opening the Word: Winning in weakness

Friday, May 3, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley When we hear the word “apocalyptic,” images of wrath and destruction come to mind — blockbuster films... Read More

Number of ‘nones’ ties with Catholics

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
By: Brian Fraga  Americans who do not identify with any religion — the so-called “nones” — are now as big a part of... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!