Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Revelation 20:1-4.11-21.2; Psalm 84; Luke 21:29-33)
Apocalypse is the Greek word for revelation. For this reason the last book of the Bible, from which we take the first reading today, is alternately called the Apocalypse or the Book of Revelation (no s please). Apocalyptic literature, however, of which the Apocalypse is the only full biblical example, has a meaning beyond revelatory. It refers to stories that relate a struggle between God and the powers of darkness causing the end of the world as it now exists and its replacement by the Kingdom of God. Today’s first reading gives an account of that struggle and the coming Kingdom characterized by “a new heaven” and “a new earth.”
Since the destiny of the present world is annihilation, some Christians have questioned the value of working for a better world. “Why should we take risks to create a better society when we know that this world is bound to crumble?” they ask and, “Is it not just vanity to assume that the Kingdom of God is our work?” The “Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” of the Second Vatican Council addresses these provocative issues. It declares that “the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one.” Its reasoning is that present institutions can exhibit some of the values and constructs of the future age. For sure, it warns that not all earthly progress foreshadows the Kingdom of God, and that we must be careful never to equate the two. But still, since Christ began the work of the Kingdom when he walked the earth, then we, his followers, have the responsibility of carrying on his efforts. In other words, we must do what we can to build up the Kingdom of God until he comes again to complete the work.