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Simcha FisherNovember 16, 2022
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Thursday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

“Worthy are you to receive the scroll
and break open its seals,
for you were slain and with your Blood you purchased for God
those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation.” (Rv 5:9)

Today’s first reading is one of those “sit up and smell the apocalypse” passages.

I, John, saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who sat on the throne.
It had writing on both sides and was sealed with seven seals.
Then I saw a mighty angel who proclaimed in a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”

Well, not me! I have sat through a couple of classes where scholars explain what these passages from Revelation mean, with the lions and the scrolls and the seven seals, and even with a dry, scholarly explanation, it’s really hard not to hear these verses in a dire, Johnny Cash voice:

Then I saw standing in the midst of the throne
and the four living creatures and the elders
a Lamb that seemed to have been slain.
He had seven horns and seven eyes;
these are the seven spirits of God sent out into the whole world.
He came and received the scroll from the right hand
of the one who sat on the throne.
When he took it,
the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders
fell down before the Lamb.
Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense,
which are the prayers of the holy ones.

Extremely impressive, but also incredibly confusing, and just about impenetrable. What does this have to do with my life? My typical spiritual experience looks like taking a deep breath so I don’t shout at a kid having a tantrum over a sandwich, or maybe making an honest effort to forgive someone who lied to me. What is this seven horns and seven eyes business?! I’m not going to say it’s crazy, because it’s in the Bible, but what am I supposed to do with it?

This passage, like every moment of every day, is an invitation to trust Jesus. That’s what you need to know, whether you’re in the middle of an apocalypse with fire and brimstone and walls falling down, or just living a regular old normal old day with everyday trials and temptations trying to separate you from God.

This passage, like every moment of every day, is an invitation to trust Jesus.

As very often happens, the next line supplies the answer to my question.

They sang a new hymn:
“Worthy are you to receive the scroll
and break open its seals,
for you were slain and with your Blood you purchased for God
those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation.”

They’re talking to Jesus. I’m not supposed to do anything with it. Jesus will. He is both the Word, and the one who comprehends it. He speaks, and he understands. That’s what I take away from this baffling passage: Jesus is the one who is worthy, and we are the ones who were purchased. If that is the best I can do, that is fine.

I’m not being flippant. Yes, you can delve into Scriptural exegesis and find out what various saints and scholars think John was seeing in this vision and what it implies. Certainly there are people out there who take this path and grow closer to God that way.

Or you can do what I do, and say: This passage, like every moment of every day, is an invitation to trust Jesus. It all points to Jesus. That’s what you need to know, whether you’re in the middle of an apocalypse with fire and brimstone and walls falling down, or just living a regular old normal old day with everyday trials and temptations trying to separate you from God. Eyes on the Lamb. Look to Jesus. He alone is worthy. Look to him.

More: Scripture

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