Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Revelation 14:14-19; Luke 21:5-11)

“Clearance rate” refers to the percentage of crimes committed that are solved. The justice system in the United States has a relatively high clearance rate for violent crimes such as murder and aggravated assault. Non-violent crimes like theft and burglary are another story. The majority of these activities have clearance rates between ten and twenty percent. The first reading from the Book of Revelation, however, assures that in the end justice will be served.

The text uses the gospel image of a harvest to describe the final judgment. The first angel with a sickle presumably harvests the wheat crop which is evidently judged worthy. The second angel then turns its sickle on the grape harvest which is delivered to the “great winepress of God’s fury.” Why all of the grapes are deemed unworthy is a puzzle. In any case, the reference was picked up by Juliet Ward Howe in “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” which speaks of “trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.”

“Actions have consequences,” we frequently hear today. They impact our lives in multiple ways but ultimately on how we will be judged. Good acts bring eternal life. Bad acts will result in death.