THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NEAR
The Book of Revelation gives us today a vision of hope: God will ultimately be victorious; the forces of evil will be chained for good, the just will reign with God, a new heaven and a new earth will come, God’s people (the new Jerusalem) will be pure. We must be aware that eternal life is already at work in the life of the baptized and people themselves help in giving birth to a new world. We must, as Jesus says, see these things happening now.
The faithful should keep hope in patience: God’s kingdom is near. There are not only tensions and conflicts inside God’s people and from outside: there are also signs of hope, and we should see these signs.
God of the ages and of eternity, you have entrusted to us, your people, your project about people and the world. Do not allow us to delay your plans by our own limitations. Make us aware that all we can do is being a leaven, and a sign that the seed you have sown will grow. Keep us hoping in patience, that integrity, love and justice will come in your own good time as a gift from you, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Revelation 20:1-4, 11—21:2
I, John, saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. This pool of fire is the second death.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 84:3, 4, 5-6a and 8a
R. (Rev. 21:3b)Here God lives among his people.
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. R.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young– Your altars, O LORD of hosts, my king and my God! R.
Blessed they who dwell in your house! continually they praise you. Blessed the men whose strength you are! They go from strength to strength. R.
Alleluia Luke 21:28
Alleluia, alleluia. Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 21:29-33
Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
As Revelation draws to a close, its imagery is heavenly in more ways than one. Without pressing the imagery, the main ideas are clear enough: the transformation of the world, the salvation of the just, and the punishment of the evildoer. The dragon or devil is shackled for a thousand years, after which he will be released for a short time. This book cannot be understood if taken literally, as is evident from the strong convictions that accompanied the dawn of the year 1000 AD. The millennium believers held that the thousand-year reign of the just with Christ would begin at that time.
The judgment scene features thrones, probably the twenty-four thrones intended for the saved Israel and the twelve apostles. Those who were martyred are the first to come forward. They had never betrayed Christ; they come to life and begin a thousand-year reign with him.
A second judgment is universal in character. All the dead emerge and are judged according to their deeds. Those whose names are not written in the book of life are condemned by the One seated on the great throne (at this point, perhaps the figures of God and Christ coalesce). The evildoers are consigned to the punishment of a second death. The closing is a scene of the heavenly Jerusalem, situated in a new heaven and a new earth. It is the bride of Christ, the dwelling placed of the elect.
– That we may always look for signs of hope when life is difficult and our faith is tested, we pray:
– That we may always keep trusting the Lord Jesus, that he is with us until the end of time, we pray:
– That we may accept that it is difficult for the kingdom of God to break through and to bring justice and love to all, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
God of the promises, to destroy the powers of evil your Son came not as a triumphant king but as the suffering Son of Man. In this bread and this wine, we join our destiny to his. May we learn from him whose apparent failure led to victory to accept the tensions of our time and the slow growth of your kingdom in patience and hope. For we know that you keep your promises of unending life and love and happiness through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord God of hope, you have given us a beautiful dream of your unending reign of love and joy, but we are torn between discouragement and hope because it is beyond our powers. Thank you for reviving our expectations through the body and blood of your Son. Help us to grow into new people through our tensions and struggles by the strength of him to whom you have given sovereignty and glory and kingship, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
It is sometimes said by non-believers that Christians look up to heaven because they cannot deal with the world. Christ tells us that we have to deal with the world and to change it, to work towards “a new heaven and a new earth.” Let us try to do so with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!