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 LETTER OF PAUL TO PHILEMON
St. Paul is held almost unanimously to be the author of this Epistle, which is classified—along with Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians—as one of his "captivity Epistles."
Philemon probably was written during St. Paul's house arrest in Rome AD 60-62.
It may have been sent at the same time as the Epistle to the Colossians since that Epistle mentions a man named Onesimus as one of the two men who would personally deliver that Epistle, and the present Epistle to Philemon mentions that St. Paul is returning St. Onesimus to his former master.
Philemon was a personal friend of St. Paul, and the Apostle greeted him with great affection.
He was probably a resident of Colossus or a neighboring town given the connection of St. Onesimus with the Epistle to the Colossians.
More broadly, the Epistle is addressed to St. Philemon's wife, St. Apphia, and a "fellow soldier" named St. Archippus, possibly a son of Philemon or a member of his household.
The Epistle to Philemon is a personal note in which St. Paul advocates for St. Onesimus, an escaped slave who had converted to Christianity.
Slavery was an accepted institution in the Roman Empire at the time, and the penalty for a runaway slave was death. St. Paul wished for St. Onesimus to submit to the law and return to St. Philemon, thus making reparation for having been a poor servant, for escaping, and for stealing.
Likewise, he exhorted St. Philemon to respond to an authority far higher than Roman law by receiving St. Onesimus with forgiveness and mercy and—most of all—as a brother in Christ rather than as a servant, now that both had been baptized and were children of God (cf. verse 16).
The entire situation is a perfect allegory for our own sinfulness, repentance, and redemption.
We, as sinners, are disobedient and poor servants of God who do him wrong and run from him and thus deserve death.
Yet, when we open ourselves up to grace and return in humility, we are forgiven and welcomed back into the household of God.
(*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)
So let’s start with The Letter of St. Paul to Philemon
Some people say FILL-A-MON
Other people say FILE-EE-MUN
So pick how you would like to pronounce it
I, for one, will pronounce it but with heavy emphasis on the MON in a Jamaican accent 😁
Fr. Mike doesn’t know how to say it, so he will say FILE-EE-MUN
So who is Philemon?
Paul brought Philemon into the Faith
Paul brought Philemon into relationship with Christ
Paul brought Philemon into the Church
Philemon had a slave named Onesimus
At one point, Onesimus ran away to Paul
Paul helped him become a Christian as well
So here is St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon saying, “I’m sending back your runaway slave. But hey, FYI, he is now your brother. I would have liked to keep Onesimus here as my brother, as my fellow coworker, but there is a justice here. And the justice is I’m asking you to receive him back. But receive him back not as a slave, but as a brother.”
There is something SO POWERFUL about this
One of the claims that is leveled against Scripture is that people use it to validate or endorse SLAVERY
At the same time, what do we have in the Scriptures?
We heard this from the very beginning ALL THE WAY BACK in the Old Testament
There was MUTUALLY AGREED UPON SERVICE
At some point, YES there could be abuses
“Christian slavery” was such that when Christians owned “slaves (remember, indentured servants in this culture and era!! 😁)” as their BROTHERS AND SISTERS
We have such a horrible correlation and connotation when it comes to SLAVERY
AND RIGHTFULLY SO!!
We are so familiar with this brutal, racist slavery
Here in St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon, he is sending Onesimus back NOT as a slave but as a BROTHER
He makes it VERY CLEAR
NOT as a slave
As a BROTHER
There is something that even Christian employers and employees saw each other like this, we would live in a different world
We would live in a BETTER world
Now, we are NOT talking about SLAVERY here in this example
We are talking about teachers and their students
If we saw each other not as those who get in our way, not as those who are supposed to serves us
AS BROTHERS AND SISTERS…
You would have a DIFFERENT WORLD!!
What Paul is writing to Philemon is a picture of that DIFFERENT WORLD that could possibly be ours
Does that make sense?
So that was one last thought when it comes to this big issue that exists in our world right now
Back to Revelation
What do we have?
Chs 8-11 has A LOT of stuff happening
We have The Seventh Seal
With each opening of each seal, there is more destruction coming upon the earth
AT THE SAME TIME…
There were those who were protected by this SEAL that they had on themselves
It is INTERESTING…
Fr. Mike mentioned this before
There is a debate regarding the dating of The Book of Revelation
Some say it was before AD 70
Others say it was around AD 80-90
The majority say it is AD 80-90
The minority say AD 70
Regardless, John was writing to a people who were in PERSECUTION
He is REVEALING TO THEM the POWER OF WORSHIP that is happening in Heaven
In the very beginning of Revelation Ch 8 it talks about a GOLDEN CENSER
Revelation 8:3-4, “And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.”
Remember that these are the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, the holy ones on EARTH presented before God by those HOLY ONES IN HEAVEN, the SAINTS
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
We have the intercession of the ANGELS
We have the intercession of the SAINTS
Here we have this WORSHIP IN HEAVEN happening
This is VERY IMPORTANT because in a second we will get an image of the TEMPLE in Heaven
We next have the The Seven Angels and Seven Trumpets
We first had the SEVEN SEALS
Then we have the SEVEN TRUMPETS
Hopefully this was noticeable
According to the scrolls, there were some pretty big destruction that came upon the earth and those correlated with the destruction Jesus Christ himself had prophesied would happen
Every one of those seven images of destruction correspond DIRECTLY with what Jesus had said
Now we have the SEVEN TRUMPETS
Now there is even MORE destruction
Then we are going to have SEVEN BOWLS and there will be EVEN MORE destruction
So keep that in mind
We have the SEVEN SEALS
We have the SEVEN TRUMPETS
We have the SEVEN BOWLS
These all mark DESTRUCTION
Now this can be A LOT to take
It is A LOT to take for John, who was WITNESSING this whole thing
We’re just hearing about it
John got to SEE this whole thing
John is given a little reprieve
There is a voice that speaks to him from Heaven
Revelation 10:8-9, “‘Go, take the scroll which is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, ‘Take it and eat it; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’”
There is this moment of COMPASSION on John
At the same time, this scroll that is “bitter to his stomach but sweet to his taste” relates both the SUFFERINGS and VICTORIES of Christ’s Church
He is given a taste of both the DESOLATION and a taste of the CONSOLATION
Before he has to prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings
It is FASCINATING
Let’s go back to Revelation 9:20-21 [this was after the horns were blown], “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot either see or hear or walk; nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their immorality or their thefts.”
It’s important for us to recognize that YES, this is judgment coming upon the world
This is JUDGMENT that is meant to be oriented towards REPENTANCE
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT FOR ALL OF US!!
Peter said, “When you are considering the Lord’s return, delay, it is not delay. God is being patient. He is being patient so that you can actually turn back to him. At some point though, I’m not going to say that God’s patience runs out. That’s not true. God doesn’t run out of patience. God is long suffering, he endures so much. But at some point, the opportunity runs out.”
This is one of the messages of Revelation
It is one of the messages of The Bible
Here is God who loves YOU so much
God loves ME so much
God loves ALL OF US so much
EVERY SINGLE PERSON!!
At some point, TIME IS GOING TO RUN OUT!!
Again, it is NOT God’s LOVE or PATIENCE that run out
IT IS TIME!!
AT SOME POINT WE GET WHAT WE HAVE CHOSEN!! (We have learned this multiple times during our journey. I’m not going to link the pages here but just use the “search button” at the top right of the study guide and type in “we get what we have chosen” 😁)
Even after some of these plagues and these devastating things that happen on earth, there are those who will continue to choose THEMSELVES
They will continue to choose ANYTHING ELSE OVER GOD
In Ch 11 we have The Two Witnesses
It’s very mysterious who they are
They could simply be two Christian prophets in this context
Revelation 11:6, “They have power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to afflict the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.”
That kind of sounds a little bit like two people we encountered in the Old Testament
Who was the person who had the power to shut the sky so that no rain fell FOR 3 YEARS?
Who was the prophet who turned water into blood and had every plague afflict the earth?
So it COULD be possible in some ways that these two witnesses are ELIJAH AND MOSES!!
Or it could be prophets who symbolize Moses and Elijah
Here is a CLEAR SIGN that God is PRESENT, God is ACTIVE, God is REAL
The nations of the world team up and KILL THEM
Then they congratulate themselves for killing these two prophets
There is something SO POWERFUL about this
How often, in the New Testament, have Christians written that you can’t belong to BOTH the world and to God?
Most people think, “I kind of live in a decent…there are decent people around me in the world!”
Yes, there are a lot of DECENT PEOPLE all over the place, everywhere
AT THE SAME TIME…
When we FULLY BELONG TO THE LORD in some ways we can see ourselves and say, “I don’t really belong to the world. I don’t really belong here. I don’t really fit in.”
We SHOULD OFTEN, as Christians, feel like WE DO NOT FIT IN
Too often we feel like we fit in and that might not be to our BENEFIT
It might actually be to our DETRIMENT
They have killed these two prophets, these two witnesses
Witnesses in this sense is the Greek which means MARTYR
They killed them and they are CELEBRATING
Revelation 11:10, “...[they gazed upon their dead bodies] and they rejoiced over them, make merry, and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.”
That’s what the world does to prophets
Sometimes the world recognizes they were holy
Think of people who have died recently in our age who have been CLEARLY HOLY
People call into question their holiness!
“Maybe they had something going on!!”
“Maybe they had some kind of ulterior motive!!”
“Maybe there is some other kind of deception happening in their life.”
Of course we are all broken
Think about how much the world HATES holiness
I think we like it from AFAR
When it is UP CLOSE, we don’t like it
So we have this opportunity to TURN BACK TO THE LORD
Last little note…
At the end of Ch 11 we have John looking into Heaven
John 11:19, “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, loud noises, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.”
Once again, like MOUNT SINAI!!
He sees THE ARK OF THE COVENANT!!
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO PAY ATTENTION TO!!
Because the Ark of the Covenant has been LOST!!
Remember Jeremiah hid it away HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO!!
So for the FIRST TIME IN CENTURIES
For the FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE
John looks into Heaven and he sees The Ark of the Covenant
This is SO IMPORTANT!!
Because it is in the Lord’s TEMPLE
Remember, the worship that is happening in Heaven is happening NOW in Christian churches
It is happening on ALTARS
It is happening in the CATHOLIC CHURCH
ALL OF THE TIME!!
EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR!!
This is the PLACE
This is the ACTION
This is the WORK that you and I are made for
We only have a few days left with each other 😭
Here we are on DAY 361
WHAT A GIFT IT IS!!
It’s not a gift to hear about JUDGMENT, but it IS a gift to hear that THIS IS WHAT THE LORD IS DOING
He has brought judgment to the world
He will bring it again
NOT to punish those who are innocent
To bring JUSTICE to this world
Fr. Mike is praying that we can be recipients of God’s mercy even in the midst of the NEED for justice
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
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.”