Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 11-17-22

For the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 11-17-22, Year C
Readings: Rv 5:1-10; Ps 149:1b-6a & 9b; Gospel Lk 19:41-44
Memorial: St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious
Theme:  Worthy Is Christ

In the apocryphal writing of Revelations, we read the amazing symbolism that describes figures, themes, and objects in glorious ways. We hear numbers, such as seven (the number of perfections in biblical writing), twelve, and twenty-four, representing the twelve tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and the twelve apostles in the New Testament. We hear of lamp stands (holy churches or witnesses), horns (strength and power), and eyes (wisdom and insight), all with their own distinctive hidden meanings. Reading apocryphal writings, such as Revelations, should be taken with great care, understanding, guidance, and historical context and never literally.

Apocryphal writing is by its very nature one of disguising a truth that only those who know the meaning of the symbolism would understand. For St. John, in harsh times under Roman rule, and the penalty of death to be a Christian, it meant resorting to this style of writing to spread God’s word. He did so to let other Christian faithful know that the evil within the Roman empire was defeated by Christ on the cross and to have hope. The execution of God’s plan for humanity and those who are good, or evil, will be dealt with according to His plan written on the scroll with the seven seals. Only Christ is worthy to open those seals and set in motion the plan of God for all humanity.

John comforts us in the book of Revelations by letting us know that no matter how scary evil is (dragons and beasts of unimaginable ugliness), it will not have victory over us because of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Christ is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll with the plan of salvation for humanity written upon it.

Jesus, likewise, in similar imagery, describes the evil that will destroy Jerusalem. An evil that was brought on by the lack of faith and recognition that God’s Kingdom had already arrived and was there in the person of Jesus. Jesus symbolically describes how the people have been so consumed with their life and work on this earth, and their lack of worship and devotion to their creator, that they are blinded to the truth that stands right in front of them. Because of this, Jerusalem will be destroyed, leaving not one stone upon another. Here Jesus uses the language of Haggai 2:15 where he describes the building up of the people in the temple by laying a stone upon a stone.

No one else could break the seals of the scroll because no one was worthy to do so. but Christ was. He broke the seals and opened the scroll for us to reveal the will and plan of God to us. None of us are worthy to be in the presence of God in and of ourselves, but if we believe that Jesus suffered, died, and rose again in the forgiveness of sin, we will have the promise, through purification, that we will be worthy someday.

Until that time, we should work to live a life that understands that Jesus is here with us as we live and breathe, and that we recognize Him and pay Him homage. Do not let the thought or memory of Jesus and his teachings slip from your mind. Do not forget the past and the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. Be close to Jesus and the Father through prayer, and let the Holy Spirit guide you in all you do as it did St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

St. Elizabeth was born in 1207. At a young age, she was married to Louis the IV of Thuringia and bore three children. She lived a prayerful life. After the death of her husband, she entered the Third Order of St. Francis. Through a life inspired by the Holy Spirit, she erected a hospital and devoted herself to the service of the poor. She is now known as the patroness of Catholic Charities.  St. Elizabeth died at Marburg, in 1231.

Devote your life to Christ and live the life He did, loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:37).

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL