Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Revelation 4:1-11; Luke 19:11-28)

Liturgy connects us with the mysteries of salvation so that we might participate in their effects.  The Eucharistic liturgy, for example, enables us to experience Jesus’ death and resurrection as if we were there when they took place.  It is more efficacious than a dramatization because we actually receive a share of his eternal glory.  The passage from the Book of Revelation today shows the liturgy of the heavens with all creation giving glory to God.

The Almighty sits on a throne sparkling like jewels.  The twenty-four elders surrounding Him represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles.  Their white garments indicate their faithfulness and their golden crowns victory over their oppressors.  The four living creatures are traditionally associated with the four evangelists, but their symbolism goes deeper.  They represent the range of creation – human and beast, bird and farm animal -- harmoniously praising God.

The liturgy here closes the first part of the Book of Revelation.  Seven letters describing the strengths and weaknesses of Christian churches under persecution have been read.  Although the persecution will continue, the liturgy assures a victorious outcome.  The purpose of the service is to encourage the churches to keep the faith despite persecution.  We today find hope in the message for persecution continues.  Whether Christians are menaced by Communists in China or by our personal desires leading them from virtue, we want to continue following Jesus.  The assured end will make our journey worthwhile.