RAISE YOUR HEADS—YOUR SALVATION IS NIGH
In 539 B. C. King Darius had taken the great city of Babylon that had driven the Jews into exile. Likewise, the new Babylon, the city of Rome that was persecuting the young Church, will fall and Christians will openly sing the praise of God.
The destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of disaster in nature are for us signs of the trials of the Christian life and of the difficult coming of God’s kingdom among people. But let us not forget that we ourselves too delay this kingdom, by our selfishness, our hunger for power, all the evil we cause one another. Yet our meager efforts will help to bring salvation nearer. With the help of Christ present among us, we can grow in love, forgiveness, compassion, and peace. We should keep our heads raised in hope.
Lord our God, we are your people on the march who try to carry out the task of giving shape to your kingdom of love and peace. When we are discouraged and afraid, keep us going forward in hope. Make us vigilant in prayer, that we may see the signs of your Son’s coming. Let Jesus walk with us already now on the road he has shown us, that he may lead us to you, our living God for ever and ever. Amen!
1 Reading: Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9A
I, John, saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth became illumined by his splendour. He cried out in a mighty voice: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great. She has become a haunt for demons. She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird, a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast.” A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone and threw it into the sea and said: “With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down, and will never be found again. No melodies of harpists and musicians, flutists and trumpeters, will ever be heard in you again. No craftsmen in any trade will ever be found in you again. No sound of the millstone will ever be heard in you again. No light from a lamp will ever be seen in you again. No voices of bride and groom will ever be heard in you again. Because your merchants were the great ones of the world, all nations were led astray by your magic potion.” After this I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying: “Alleluia! Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her harlotry. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” They said a second time: “Alleluia! Smoke will rise from her forever and ever.” Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
Responsorial Psalm PS 100:1B-2, 3, 4, 5
R. (Rev. 19: 9a) Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song. R.
Know that the LORD is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends. R.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise; Give thanks to him; bless his name. R.
For he is good: the LORD, whose kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations. R.
Alleluia Luke 21:28
Alleluia, alleluia. Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 21:20-28
Jesus said to his disciples: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it, and let those in the countryside not enter the city, for these days are the time of punishment when all the Scriptures are fulfilled. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
The end will not come before the downfall of the “great whore” – Rome. The avenging angel sees this apocalyptic Babylon as a huge trash heap that has become a haven for demons and every unclean species of bird and beast. In her disgrace there will be no semblance of joy—no music, no art, no light, no marriage festivities. Her formerly lucrative mercantile ventures brought nothing but havoc to the nations.
With apocalyptic contrast, the heavenly choir sings of God’s glory. He has eliminated the great whore and her corrupting spirit. The smoke of her dissolution will cease forever. It is the blessed who now enter for the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Luke’s description of the end-time is less graphic. He is equally strong in stating that the time of its appearance is not known. But those who have been united to Christ and live in his Spirit should stand upright and hold their heads high, for their redemption is at hand.
– Lord Jesus, when we are confused and discouraged, tell us: “Stand up and raise your heads, because your salvation is near,” we pray:
– Lord Jesus, make us people of hope, not of fear, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, we pray for people who despair of themselves and of the meaning of life; give them courage and hope, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, as a pledge of your promises you give us your Son Jesus Christ in these signs of bread and wine. We do not ask you for a life without problems and risks but for your Son’s vision of a world in which you are present and for your Son’s courage to answer with our own lives your call to build up a new world in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, merciful Father, you have spoken to us your word of hope and renewed our strength with the bread of life of your Son. Free our faith from banality and routine and send us out with your Son to restore integrity and love and the trust that with him we can give shape to a future beyond all human expectations, for the future belongs to you, our living God.
Grant us this through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Keep your heads high in hope was the message of today. Keep hoping when there are wars and violence. Keep hoping when there is much injustice. Keep hoping when there is much hatred and discrimination. Keep hoping, for there is a future. Christ is with you, and with him we can do away with evil in us and in our world. Keep your heads high, and may God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!