Monday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time—Year II
Readings: Revelation 1, Luke 18:35-43
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must happen soon. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who gives witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ by reporting what he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.
So begins the most misunderstood book of the Bible. The Book of Revelation speaks of “what must happen soon” and of an appointed time which is “near,” but to whom is it speaking? Some answer this question historical-critically; it is addressing seven particular churches in Asia Minor during the first or second century. Others answer eschatologically; it is describing the wonders and travails awaiting the generation which will immediately precede Jesus’ return. But what about the many generations who come and go between those two bookend eras of Christian history? Was Revelation addressed or applicable to them? In what sense was its prophetic message truly “near” or “soon” for all that time?
The Book of Revelation involves specific historical contexts in the past and describes a historical climax (apparently) still to come, but it also speaks to Christians of every age. Consider today’s gospel: Jesus heals a blind man and declares the saving power of his faith or faithfulness (“pistis” in the Greek.) How narrowly should we interpret this gospel? Are the miracles and message of Jesus Christ intended only for the people of His time and place? Is the Gospel of Luke meant only for the first century Christians to whom it was written? Rather, the whole of Sacred Scripture, co-authored and inspired by the Holy Spirit who sees all of history simultaneously, speaks to the life and times of every Christian. Corruptions of the world, persecutions of the Church, manifestations of God’s power, and triumphs of His people belong to every age. The Book of Revelation truly tells “[God’s] servants what must happen soon” because these realities are always “near.”