Day 361: Judgment and Repentance

Revelation 8:1-6 The silence that follows the opening of the seventh seal provides a moment for interior prayer, represented by the incense offered by the angels and the prayers of the saints. It is reminiscent of the moments of silence in both the Jewish and Christian liturgies. The seven angels may connote the seven archangels who minister in God's presence (cf. Tb 12:15). The golden altar in Heaven corresponds to the altar in the Temple, and the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is celebrated on the altar, is a participation in the worship that the angels and saints offer God at the heavenly altar. (CCC 329-336, 954-959, 2717) 


Ch 8:7-13 The sound of each of the seven trumpets indicates the acts of God in judgment of humanity. The first four trumpets each bring about destruction of the natural world. These catastrophes also point to some of the plagues of Egypt described in Exodus. As bad as it seems, the threefold "woe" of the eagle in flight warns that the worst is yet to come. "Woe" represents a warning against those who reject God and choose death over life. 

Wormwood: This bitter plant is responsible for producing a bad taste in the rivers. (CCC 208, 1014, 2287) 


Ch 9:1-12 The star that falls from the sky refers to Satan, who unleashes his minions upon the earth in the form of powerful locusts who attack those who are not sealed. They are arrayed as conquerors and warriors who inflict great harm. 

Bottomless pit: In Jewish thought, the underworld (in Hebrew, Sheol, or in Greek, Hades) is where souls who have died await final judgment. 

Five months: The demons prosper, but only for a short time. 

Abaddon... Apollyon: Alternate Hebrew and Greek names for Satan, respectively meaning "destruction" and "destroyer." (CCC 394-395, 1296) 


Ch 9:13-21 With the sixth trumpet, the angels release an enormous army that issues forth plagues that kill one-third of all people. The fifth and sixth trumpets, which are the first two woes, do not indicate God's punishment but rather allow humanity to suffer the consequences of sin in an effort to bring about repentance. Despite such encouragement, many continue to choose sin over salvation. 

Had been held ready for the hour: These events take place at a specific time preordained by God himself. (CCC 1037) 


Ch 10:1-11 Little scroll: This scroll, which is not sealed, symbolizes the prophetic works of Scripture. God reveals himself and his will through Scripture; therefore, it is incumbent upon the faithful to meditate on these truths and put them into practice. This assimilation of Scripture is symbolized by John's consumption of the scroll. The sweetness of the scroll contrasts with the bitterness it creates in the stomach, indicating that the Good News of our salvation stands in contrast to the bitter judgment facing those who do not repent and the trials that the faithful must yet endure as they maintain hope for the resurrection of the body and eternal life. 

Like a lion roaring: The angel speaks on behalf of Christ. (CCC 1820) 


Ch 11:1-14 The Temple and its altar symbolize the Church, which will withstand the attacks, tribulations, and persecutions to come. Elsewhere, the demons, their armies, and their plagues will wreak havoc on the world and its people, while two witnesses, whose identity is unclear, but perhaps Peter and Paul, or Elijah and Enoch, or Moses, preach repentance for three and one-half years while the destruction continues. The two witnesses are killed and then raised from the dead and taken into Heaven, an act that results in the conversion of many souls. Their ascent into glory lends hope to the faithful who anticipate doing the same when their time comes. (CCC 675-676, 797, 809) 


Ch 11:2 Trample over the holy city: This verse suggests the destruction and profanation of Jerusalem, which happened three times in recorded history. The forty-two months corresponds to a prophecy of Daniel regarding a coming tribulation of "a time, two times, and half a time" (cf. Dn 7:25; 12:7)-variously rendered as "one thousand, two hundred and sixty days"-a period of time that represents the duration of persecution. 

Two witnesses: The presence of two witnesses in a Jewish court of law was required to establish the truth of testimony. Here the two witnesses attest to the truth of God's Word. (CCC 585-586, 593) 


Ch 11:15-19 At the seventh trumpet, all of creation is turned over to Christ, who will reign over it forever-the final fulfillment of the kingdom of God. God shows his presence with the usual theophanies, and the presence of the Ark of the Covenant within his temple affirms his faithfulness to the covenants he made with his people. The Ark of the Covenant was kept in the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple. It was later removed, perhaps to protect it from the invading Babylonians, and was lost. It was not present, therefore, in the Second Temple or in Herod's Temple, and its whereabouts are still unknown. Mary is revealed to be the Ark of the New Covenant in the next verse. (CCC 450)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)









(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Philemon 1-3 The Epistle to Philemon, written while Paul was in prison, represents the Apostle's intervention on behalf of a runaway slave named Onesimus. It would appear that Onesimus had fled from Philemon, his master, perhaps after stealing money or property, and feared returning to him. In the meantime, the slave had met Paul, who taught him the basic tenets of the Faith and converted him to Christianity. In the course of the letter, Paul advised his friend to forgive Onesimus and to receive him once again into his home, this time as a brother in Christ. (CCC 381) 


Verse 2 Church in your house: Early Christians met to celebrate the Eucharist in private homes. Philemon's home was used for the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy. (CCC 1342) 


Verse 4-7 Faith naturally impels the believer to desire a deeper knowledge and understanding of the object of his or her faith. In turn, increasing knowledge of revealed truths increases our faith. Through Baptism, Christians enter into communion with Christ and with one another and, thus, form a Mystical Body with Christ as the Head. The Christian Faith breaks down all social barriers that may otherwise have separated one Christian from another. 

Saints: The Latin sanctus means "holy one" and refers here primarily to the Christian faithful. In its broader sense, it can refer also to the Holy Souls in Purgatory who await entrance into Heaven and those already in heavenly glory. (CCC 158) 


Verse 8-21 Paul had the pastoral authority to direct Philemon to act in a particular way but instead approached him as a friend. Paul had grown close to Onesimus and considered him his spiritual child, his "very heart," because he had led him to the Christian Faith. Paul asked Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as a brother, with the affection that Paul himself had for him. Paul offered to compensate his friend for any theft or harm Onesimus had committed against him. Although Philemon and Onesimus were master and slave in matters of employment, as Christians they enjoyed the equality of being brothers in Christ. 

Useless... useful: Paul made a play on words here. The name Onesimus means "useful"; whereas his flight made him useless to his master, he was now made useful by belonging to the Christian community. (CCC 791) 


Verse 16 Under the Law, Philemon could punish his runaway slave, even by death. The Christian response, however, would be to embrace Onesimus as a brother. Paul never overtly condemned slavery but argued that there was no class distinction among those redeemed by Christ. (CCC 2414) 


Verse 22-25 Paul was comfortable enough with Philemon to ask for lodging in his home, a reminder of how Christian families in these various communities of the early Church were a vital part of the rapid spread of the Christian Faith. The list of Paul's companions and the appearance of Onesimus as Paul's messenger (cf. Col 4:9) suggest that this letter was written about the same time as Colossians, AD 60-62. (CCC 1655)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you so much. Thank you for bringing us to this place. Thank you for this Letter of St. Paul to Philemon. Thank you for giving us insight into Judgment, for giving us insight into the fact that this world, though good, is broken and will not go on forever. The brokenness will not go on forever. You will bring your just Judgment to us, to our lives, and to the world that you have placed us in. Help us to be faithful to you. Help us to be found watching and waiting, prepared to receive you as you deserve to be received. Help us to endure pain well. Help us to endure suffering like your Son Jesus Christ endured it. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”