Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Revelation 15:1-4; Luke 21:12-19)
Eastern Europeans are largely incredulous of wide-eyed Westerners who show little stomach for arms. Tempered by the bitter experience of iron-hand Communist rule, Poles, Czechs, and Ukrainians suffer few illusions that nations will live in harmony anytime soon. They would resonate with John, the Presbyter, in the first reading. After being exiled, he only revels at the dream of angels preparing plagues to be hurled at his people’s persecutors.
People who have not experienced persecution can barely stomach the Book of Revelation when it describes divine retribution. They believe the accounts fanciful and basically un-Christian. But they should recognize at least the possibility of fearful retribution. After all, the gospels are full of of teeth-grinding and hell-fire. Perhaps, however, the punishment warranted after failing to heed such admonitions is more of deprivation –missing out of life’s fulfillment – than of pain – burning in oblivion.
We may have difficulty gauging a response to God. He is often portrayed in Scripture as the Almighty King capable of wreaking havoc upon the nations. Yet Jesus describes God as a loving father. Perhaps both conceptions are over-simplified. God transcends our understanding. We are less likely to come to terms with God than an amoeba with us. But out of a similarly incredible love, God has invited us into a relationship of Him. Our response can only be that of the victors in the reading: “Great and wonderful are your works…”