Day 362: The Woman Clothed with the Sun

Revelation 12:1-6 The "woman clothed with the sun" represents Mary, who gave birth to the child who will rule all nations. The crown of twelve stars indicates the Twelve Tribes of Israel as well as the Twelve Apostles of the Church, the New Israel. In sacred art, she is often depicted as having a crown of twelve stars. The woman also represents the Church, who, as a Mother, makes Christ present in the world by giving birth to the faithful through Baptism and whose members are persecuted by Satan. (CCC 169, 391-395, 501, 967-975, 1138) 


Ch 12:3 The seven heads may represent the first seven kings of Rome, or perhaps the first seven emperors of the Roman Empire (cf. Rev 1:10-12). In the latter list, Nero, who was a violent persecutor of Christians, was the sixth emperor. The ten horns represent ten future kings who will reign for a short while or, perhaps, ten puppet rulers established by Rome to rule its conquered territories. Others interpret the ten horns as ten kingdoms, such as the Germanic tribes, that would be formed out of the Roman Empire. 


Ch 12:6 Fled into the wilderness: This image may refer to the flight of Christians from Jerusalem to the town of Pella across the Jordan just before the destruction of Jerusalem AD 70. 


Ch 12:10 Accuser of our brethren: Satan, the "ancient serpent" and "deceiver," attempts to draw the faithful to Hell by making accusations of their wrongdoing. He accuses us of our sins in such a way that we are tempted to despair of God's mercy. (CCC 395, 550, 2853) 


Ch 12:7-12 The image of the "war in heaven" between the angels and Satan has long been interpreted as belonging both to the past and to the present. Created as servants of God and endowed with free will, some angels used that freedom to rebel against God. Jewish tradition suggests their rebellion was a refusal to serve humanity or perhaps an image of Christ in his humanity, which they viewed as inferior to themselves. After their act of disobedience, the demons were sent to Hell. From the beginning, they have tempted people to sin so they, too, may be deprived of eternal happiness. The image also points to the ongoing war of Satan against the Church, a war that will escalate at the end of time, when Satan's final defeat draws near. St. Michael the Archangel is the leader of the heavenly forces against Satan and his demons. The Prayer to St. Michael, which asks for protection against Satan, is a popular Catholic devotion. (CCC 328, 334-336, 391-395, 680) 


Ch 12:13-18 The woman rescued from the dragon by eagles' wings is an image that was used in the Old Testament to describe God's deliverance of the Israelites out of slavery (cf. Ex 19:4). She is protected from the dragon's river of water, which represents the forces of evil. The Church will suffer mightily, but she will always survive because of her divine origin. The attack on the woman's offspring is reminiscent of the enmity between the serpent and her offspring that was foretold after the fall of Adam and Eve (cf. Gn 3:15). (CCC 501, 675-677, 757, 2853) 


13:1-10 The beasts that rise from the sea and the earth are often equated with the "antichrist" mentioned in the letters of John and Peter. The antichrist is portrayed as an individual but the term may be applied to any person who has tried to undermine the Church or otherwise rendered terrible evil throughout history. For Christians of the early centuries after Christ, the locus of evil would have been the Roman Empire, which brutally persecuted the faithful until the fourth century. The seven heads of the beast stand for seven Roman rulers. (CCC 2113) 


Ch 13:1-2 The fierce and violent beast is in many ways an antithesis of the gentle and meek Lamb. The beast reigns from a throne and is worshiped by the wicked of the earth. He enjoys worldly dominion over every tribe and nation, receiving power from the dragon, and the wicked bear the mark of the beast. Some identify the beast with the Emperor Nero, who survived a mortal wound and whose suicide AD 68 ended the dynasty of Caesar. Though the demise of Nero was expected to end the Roman Empire, a new ruler took power, causing the empire to survive. (CCC 677) 


Ch 13:7 War on the saints: Persecutions of Christians who refused to submit to pagan worship was intense and particularly bloody under Nero AD 64-68 and later under Domitian AD 81-96. (CCC 2473) 


Ch 13:11-18 The second beast is a false prophet, a religious figure under control of the state who uses his evil power to perform supposedly miraculous acts to deceive the world. It draws attention away from God and puts false gods, the State, or humanity as a substitute for God. (CCC 676, 2113) 


Ch 13:17-18 The mark of the beast gives the power to buy and sell. It may refer to later first-century coins that bore the image of the emperor. The number of the beast, 666, is a code for the first century Christians; letters of the Hebrew alphabet represent numbers, and the Hebrew rendering of "Nero Caesar" consists of letters whose corresponding numbers add up to 666. 


Ch 14:1-5 The Lamb appears with the redeemed multitude, who are referred to as chaste, or virgins. While it may refer to those who embrace celibacy for the Kingdom of God, it may also signify the entire People of God, who have been purified by the Lamb's Sacrifice. The faithful of the Church are adorned as a bride for Christ and will live in unity with him. Those with a vocation to celibacy in the consecrated life or ministerial priesthood have made themselves virgins for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven by giving themselves totally to Christ. (CCC 778, 1138, 1618-1619, 2159) 


Ch 14:6-13 Three angels announce the Lord's judgment and the final defeat of sin and evil. The faithful must do all in their power to reject the beast and not allow themselves to be defiled. Any such compromise with the beast will bring spiritual and moral destruction and consequently judgment upon themselves. This is a call for perseverance despite great persecution and pressure from the forces of evil. Babylon: A pagan city known for its rampant immorality. The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in the sixth century BC and exiled many Jews from their homeland. (CCC 867) 


Ch 14:13-20 Judgment finally comes upon the people of the world. It is placed within a metaphor of a harvest, where the good fruit has already been saved and put to use. The collection of the dead and decaying remnants of the grain and vine are for the purpose of their destruction. This victory of Christ over the forces of evil is a response to the prayers of the faithful and the martyrs. 

Rest from their labors: Eternal life is compared to the Sabbath "rest" of God. (CCC 314, 1038-1041)

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









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

Hebrews 1:1-3 God the Son is eternally one with the Father, and, through the Son, the Father created all things. As the Word of God, Christ is the perfect Revelation of the Father's love and wisdom. Through the prophets, God revealed his Son's entrance into the created world as well as his redemptive mission. In this regard, the whole of the Old Testament served as preparation for the Incarnation and Redemption of Jesus Christ, God the Son made man. (CCC 65, 68-69, 101-104, 1964) 


Ch 1:2 These last days: A reference not strictly to the end of the world but rather to the present age, ushered in by Christ, which serves as the final stage before the end of time. 

Heir of all things: In the Mosaic Law, the firstborn son received the inheritance from his father. Christ is the firstborn of God the Father. (CCC 65) 


Ch 1:3 Reflects the glory of God: A term that is developed in the Nicene Creed: "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God." In the Old Testament, God's wisdom is referred to as the "reflection of eternal light" (Wis 7:26). The mystery of God's transcendent beauty, love, and truth is made visible in Christ. This divine transcendence in many instances is expressed in sacred art, especially in icons. The holiness of Christ is also reflected in Mary, the angels, and in the saints. 

Stamp of his nature: This is an affirmation of the divinity of Christ. 

His word: As the Word of God, Christ is the perfect Revelation of the Father. For this reason Divine Revelation reached its culmination in Jesus Christ. John's Gospel likewise refers to Christ in this way in its prologue (Jn 1:1). 

When he had made purification for sins: Christ, fully God and fully man, is the only one who could reconcile a sinful world with God the Father. (CCC 102, 65, 241, 320, 2502, 2777) 

Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty: Christ's Ascension to the Father began his reign in Heaven as the Eternal High Priest and as God the Son equal in majesty to the Father. (CCC 464, 662-663, 2502, 2777, 2795) 


Ch 1:5-14 The author used seven citations from the Old Testament to show that Christ is God. He is the Only-Begotten Son of God the Father and, thus, higher than the angels who are called to worship him. Verses from the Psalms that spoke of God are applied to Christ to herald his divinity (cf. Ps 45:6-7; 102:25-27). Angels were the subject of some veneration among first-century Jews, and there may have been concern that Christ, because of his human nature, might be considered lower than the angels. (CCC 333) 


Ch 1:13 Sit at my right hand... feet: Christ and his Apostles used this familiar verse from the Psalms (cf. Ps 110:1) as a riddle to show the divinity of Christ. The full psalm, which begins with the words, "The Lord said to my Lord . . ." is attributed to David and indicates that David recognized a "Lord" who was in some way distinct from the Father. (CCC 447) 


Ch 1:14 Ministering spirits: The role of the angels is to serve God as messengers of his divine plan and to offer him prayer of adoration. They watch over us as guardian angels and, through their intercessory prayers, obtain grace for us. (CCC 331-336, 351-352) 


Ch 2:1-4 What we have heard: The Gospel message of Jesus Christ. 

Lest we drift: A warning that Christians must remain faithful to the message they have received so they do not deviate from the road to salvation. 

The message declared by angels: According to Jewish tradition, God communicated his Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai through angels. While the Old Law prescribed punishment for every sin, the New Law of Christ makes us members of the Mystical Body of Christ and adopted children of God. With unbounded mercy, God forgives us our sins and reconciles us to himself. Because Christ is God and, therefore, above the angels, he had the authority to supersede the Old Law. (CCC 1965-1974, 1983-1986) 


Ch 2:3 Attested to us:The Sacred Author of this book evidently was not a disciple of Christ during his lifetime, as this phrase suggests he learned of Christ's teachings secondhand. This alone gives us little information about the authorship of Hebrews. As with Paul, who was not a disciple of Christ during his lifetime, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews knew about Christ from the Apostles and their preaching. (CCC 74-79, 81, 173, 1287) 


Ch 2:4 The signs, wonders, and miracles worked by the followers of Christ give confidence in the veracity of Christ's Revelation and show the reasonableness of faith in the Gospel. (CCC 156, 1155) 


Ch 2:5-18 Applying the Psalms to Christ (cf. Ps 8:4-6), the writer emphasized how Christ was made "for a little while lower than the angels," so he could be glorified and made Lord of all creation. For our sake, he willfully and obediently offered himself, which makes his humble Sacrifice all the more remarkable. In order to redeem us, Christ assumed human nature so that, by his Death, he might destroy death and the power of evil. (CCC 609, 624, 629, 635) 


Ch 2:12 My brethren: In taking on our humanity and becoming one like us in order to redeem us, Christ includes us in his prayer and Sacrifice. (CCC 2602, 2777, 2795) 


Ch 2:15 Grace can strengthen us against the temptations of fear, anxiety, and discouragement when we suffer illness or face death. (CCC 407, 635-636, 1520) 


Ch 2:16-17 Christ came to save humanity but not the fallen angels, whose defiance separated them from God irrevocably for all eternity. 

Expiation: This is the complete cleansing of sin. (CCC 609, 613-618, 827) 


Ch 3:1-6 Just as Moses led the Jewish people out of bondage in Egypt and transmitted God's Commandments to them, Christ, the New Moses, liberated the new People of God from the slavery of sin and gave them the New Law of grace and charity. Here and elsewhere in Scripture, the People of God is compared to a house or building. While the heart of Jewish worship was the Temple, the New Temple is Christ's Mystical Body, which has the sanctifying power of the Sacraments. 

Holy brethren: This expression acknowledges both the holiness and the familial ties of the faithful Christian community. In other Epistles, the faithful are referred to as "saints." In Baptism, a person receives sanctifying grace and is called to a life of holiness. 

Apostle: From the Greek apostolos, meaning "one who is sent," the term is uniquely applied here to Christ, who was sent by the Father. (CCC 62-64, 72-73) 


Ch 3:7-19 Just as God rested on the seventh day of creation, the Israelites found their "rest" in their arrival to the Promised Land after forty years in the desert. 

For the Christian faithful, too, there is a future rest: the promise of eternal happiness in Heaven. (CCC 1163-1165) 


Ch 3:14 Firm to the end: The author urged the faithful to keep strong in the Faith since lukewarmness is incompatible with holiness and can result in a gradual fall from grace. Even the baptized can compromise their salvation through infidelity, just as most of the Israelites, through their lack of faith in God's goodness and promises, perished in the desert before reaching the Promised Land. It is important to realize that eternal life is always contingent on embracing the teachings of Christ. (CCC 2094) 


Ch 3:15 The "voice" of God is being associated with the teachings of Christ, the Son of God. (CCC 151, 459, 516, 554, 697) 


Ch 3:19 The Israelites survived as a nomadic people for forty years in the desert after leaving Egypt. When Canaan was indicated as the Promised Land, there were many Israelites who doubted because of the Canaanites military strength. Despite all the wonders and miracles they had witnessed during their long sojourn, they lacked faith and trust that God would protect them and lead them to the Promised Land (cf. Nm 13:25-33). (CCC 2610) 


Ch 4:1-11 God established the Sabbath as a sign of his own "rest" on the seventh day and as a sign of eternal life whereby we enter into God's eternal rest. Such a foreshadowing from the Old Testament to the New Testament is called a "type," or "figure," (TYPOLOGY!!) that points to or hints at a future reality in a veiled way. Explaining the verse from the Psalms used in the previous chapter (cf. Heb 3:14; Ps 95:8), the author expounded on God's love and mercy: Each day brings a new opportunity for a fresh start. Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross applies to the sins of all people— past, present, and future. As long as we are contrite and repentant, God's superabundant grace and forgiveness continues to be available to us. (CCC 345-346, 624, 1163-1165, 1720) 


Ch 4:12-13 The Word of God is living and active because it always speaks to the human person in every moment. Contemplating the Word of God, especially the Gospels, and integrating it into our daily lives will lead us to holiness and everlasting life. 

Soul and spirit: Through his Word, God touches the spiritual component of every human person in the intimacy of the heart. (CCC 105-108, 367, 2562) 


Ch 4:14 The perfect Sacrifice of Christ had infinite merit and, therefore, replaced the imperfect sacrifices of the Old Covenant. On account of his redemptive Sacrifice, Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for his people (cf. Rev 5:6). (CCC 571-573, 612-618, 2602) 


4:15-16 Since he is like us in all things but sin, Christ experienced fears, sorrows, fatigue, etc. However, being perfect God and perfect man, he had no inclination to sin. We can turn to him for help in overcoming our weaknesses due to suffering since the Lord can identify with every human plight and suffering. The Monophysites held that Christ had only one (divine) nature, a heresy condemned by the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon AD 451. 

Throne of grace: God's heavenly throne, where Christ intercedes on our behalf in his role as Eternal High Priest. (CCC 467, 540)

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much. Thank you once again for your Word. We thank you for this LAST BOOK that we are reading, The Letter to the Hebrews. We ask that you please open our minds, enlighten us so that we can know what we are reading, know what we are hearing. We ask you to please prepare our hearts. Prepare our hearts for your judgment. Prepare our hearts for love that comes upon the earth. Even if that love is purifying. Help us in this way to receive you. We make this prayer in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”