Day 364: Christ's Sacrifice Once for All
Revelation 18:1-24 A lengthy and eloquent announcement by an angel describes the fall of Babylon and the sorrows of those who were allied with her. The sins of its people are the direct cause of its downfall. The sadness of these sinners over the razing of their city is not a sign of repentance from their sins but a grief that their sinful pleasures and material wealth have been terminated. (CCC 2642)
Ch 19:1-10 All of Heaven rejoices at the defeat of sin and evil. The time is coming for the wedding feast of the Lamb and his Bride, i.e., Christ and his Church. The Mass, which commemorates the Last Supper and makes present Christ's Sacrifice of the Cross, is a manifestation and extension of the eternal, heavenly liturgy of the marriage feast of the Lamb with his Church. Thus, this scene represents both the present reality of the Church as well as our future hope, which will reach its fulfillment in Heaven. (CCC 677, 865, 1089, 1136-1137, 1329, 2642)
Ch 19:7-10 Joined to Christ by Baptism, the Church, as the Bride of Christ, will reach her perfection in Heaven. This union is reflected in the original unity of man and woman and is the model upon which all Christian marriage is to be built. (CCC 757, 1601-1602, 1612)
Ch 19:11-21 Christ and his armies slay the two beasts and all their minions, casting them into the fires of Hell. The description of Christ being covered in blood and stomping in a wine press recalls an image of the Lord from the prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 63:1-6). (CCC 1033-1037)
Ch 20:1-6 Satan, the dragon, is locked up for a millennium. Some scholars have interpreted this as a time of relative peace before the end of the world; others have seen it more symbolically as representing the period of time between the Resurrection and the Final Judgment during which Satan's power is muted. The Church's view is closer to the latter perspective, holding that there will not be a visible reign of Christ on earth before the end of time but that Christ reigns over the earth now from Heaven in a mystical way through the Sacraments and the ministry of his Church.
The first resurrection: This refers to Baptism, in which the believer symbolically dies with Christ and rises with him again. (CCC 676)
Ch 20:7-10 In the last days, the Devil will be set free and become more active again. This coincides with the tribulation that the faithful will have to endure. Satan may appear to have victory secured, but Christ will triumph once and for all, casting Satan himself into Hell for all eternity. Hell is a state of eternal separation from God that is freely chosen; anyone who refuses to repent of mortal sin will incur eternal punishment. Everyone was created to share in God's eternal happiness, but at the same time every individual can freely refuse this invitation to everlasting life. (CCC 675-677, 1035)
Ch 20:8-9 Gog and Magog: These Old Testament names are used for the nations under Satan's control who carry out his evil plan against the Church (cf. Ez 38-39).
Camp of the saints: This is an indication that the Pilgrim Church on earth has still not arrived at her definitive home and remains on a journey of faith. (CCC 671, 771, 972,
Ch 20:11-15 After Christ's final victory over the forces of evil, the Final Judgment will take place. For those who die before the end of the world, there are two judgments: the Particular Judgment immediately upon death and the Final, or General or Last, Judgment at the end of time; the second judgment does not overrule but confirms the first judgment. All will rise again with their bodies reunited to their souls—the just with glorified bodies and the unjust with bodies ruined by unrepentant sin. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life are those who die in a state of grace. Those whose names are not included will suffer eternal punishment. (CCC 1023-1029, 1038-1041)
Ch 20:14 Second death: This judgment damns a soul to Hell, the ultimate spiritual death. (CCC 1014)
Ch 9:1-10 The high priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement (in Hebrew, Yom Kippur) to offer sacrifice for the reconciliation of the people of Israel to God and for the forgiveness of the sins committed over the past year. These sacrifices, however, were not effective in removing sin but rather prefigured the redemptive Sacrifice of Christ. The Old Covenant defined sin and established the standards of the moral law without equipping the people with the grace to keep that same Law. (CCC 433, 592, 1093)
Hebrews 9:11-28 The animal sacrifices prescribed under the Old Covenant required the shedding of blood and had to be repeated continuously. The Sacrifice of the New Covenant is a single act in which the Son of God shed his own Blood for the redemption of all people, which opened our path to Heaven. There is no qualitative comparison between animal blood and the Blood of Christ, whose Sacrifice atones for all sins for all times. He remains our Advocate and Intercessor before God, presenting to the Father this Sacrifice on our behalf. The Sacrifice of the Mass is not an additional sacrifice but rather a participation in and a re-presentation of this one, eternal Sacrifice of Christ. (CCC 586, 1084-1085, 1097, 1476, 1564)
Ch 9:13-14 Offered himself: In his Sacrifice on the Cross, Christ is the Eternal High Priest, altar, and victim.
Without blemish: Like the lamb sacrificed at Passover, the sinless Christ is a perfect offering. (CCC 614, 1367, 1474, 2100)
Ch 9:15 The Incarnation and Sacrifice of Christ perfected the Law, brought to completion the promises of the Old Covenant, and redeemed all people from sin once and for all. (CCC 461, 522, 579-580, 592)
Ch 9:24-26 Christ continues to intercede for us to the Father in order to fill our needs and draw us closer to his divine life. (CCC 519, 571, 662, 1585-1587, 2741)
Ch 9:27-28 Physical death occurs only once, aside from those who miraculously have been raised from the dead (e.g., Lazarus; the son of the widow of Naim; Tabitha) and those who were assumed into Heaven (e.g., Mary, Enoch, Elijah). We are judged immediately after death in the Particular Judgment, and all will be judged at the end of time in the Final Judgment. Christ's Second Coming will not be a call to repentance but rather a convocation of both the living and the dead for the purpose of final judgment. (CCC 1013, 1021-1022, 1036, 1040-1041)
Ch 10:1-18 The Old Covenant sacrifices would forgive sin as an appeal to God's merciful benevolence but were ineffective in removing sin and obtaining grace for purification and sanctification. These sacrifices prefigured the perfect Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Christ's Sacrifice fulfills all that the Old Covenant sacrifices symbolized but could never accomplish: It forgives sins, removes our guilt, and makes full reconciliation with God possible through the graces of the Sacraments. The Mass does not repeat the eternal Sacrifice of Christ but makes it present. (CCC 64, 128, 1142-1152, 1187-1189, 1367, 1539-1540, 1544-1545, 2824)
Ch 10:5-7 Through Adam, sin was introduced into the world. For this reason, God sent his Son and prepared "a body for him" (cf. Ps 40:6) since it would be most fitting that a "new Adam" make reparation for the sin of Adam. Through Christ, the New Adam, redemption would be accomplished. Thus, Christ's eventual Sacrifice on the Cross was the very purpose of the Incarnation. Christ fulfilled his Father's plan perfectly by offering his Body and Blood as the perfect Sacrifice. Holy Communion, in which the faithful receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, is a sharing in that one Sacrifice. (CCC 462, 488, 516, 2568, 2824)
Ch 10:19-39 Christ's humanity is compared to the curtain of the Holy of Holies in that it both veils and reveals his divinity. Christ's Sacrifice merits the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. However, it is possible to lose that great gift by neglecting the mandates of the moral law and the requirements to live in accordance with Christ's teaching. The promise of redemption should inspire the faithful to stand firm in their beliefs and persevere to the end. (CCC 679, 1137)
Ch 10:19-24 The construction of this passage emphasizes the building up of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.
Hearts sprinkled ... bodies washed: A reference to Baptism, which produces an interior cleansing through the external use of water accompanied by the words of Baptism. Baptism makes us members of the Church, the Body of Christ, and gives us a share in the priesthood of Christ, which enables us to participate in Christ's redemptive Sacrifice and to receive the grace of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Through our participation in the life of the Church, we can find strength and support for living out the Christian life. (CCC 1817, 2178, 2778)
Ch 10:28 Under the Law of Moses, two to three witnesses were needed to convict someone of a capital crime. Rejecting Christ and his infinite mercy is a far worse sin with far greater consequences. (CCC 982)
Ch 10:32 Enlightened: In the early Church, Baptism was sometimes called "enlightenment," as well as "gift," "grace," "anointing," "garment of immortality,""bath of rebirth,""seal," and "most precious gift." At Baptism, the new Christian is "enlightened" by the Holy Spirit and becomes a son or daughter of light who "radiates light." (CCC 1216)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
So Revelation is getting intense in Chs 18-20 eh?
In Ch 18 we have The Fall of Babylon
The term “Babylon” is used a bunch of times obviously
These books are so RICH AND DEEP that 10 min of commentary is NOT ENOUGH
There are some incredible commentary books that are around
There is The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament (Which I cannot recommend enough myself!! 😁)
It is the RSV-2CE
It’s really good because it has ALL THE DETAILS
All the little footnotes can be SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT AND HELPFUL
It has a long note on Babylon and what it is
One of the interesting notes it has when it comes to Ch 18 and The Fall of Babylon, they note that several images and expressions in this chapter are taken from the judgmental oracles of the prophets
ESPECIALLY Jeremiah’s condemnation of ancient Babylon in Jeremiah Chs 50-51
So if you remember the history of Babylon (And you do!!)
And the history of the Babylonian Exile
And EVIL Babylon
There are all these connections with what happens here in Ch 18 and what Jeremiah prophesied back in The Book of Jeremiah (Want to do a comparison? Go back and read Day 255: God is Good and Day 256: Hard Seasons in The Bible in a Year Study Guide to jog your memory 😁)
WHICH IS REMARKABLE!!
Another guy, St. Caesarius of Arles once said, “Babylon and the harlot, whose smoke goes up forever, are none other than the lustful, the adulterous, and the arrogant.”
So he was making a point like in a homily
He was saying, “It doesn’t have to be a PLACE. It doesn’t have to be A CITY that I’m talking about.”
Now John in Revelation is likely talking about a SPECIFIC CITY
We will get to that in just a second
St. Caesarius of Arles is saying, “Listen, this can be in our own hearts. Babylon and the harlot, whose smoke goes up forever, are none other than the lustful, adulterous, and the arrogant. So if you wish to escape such punishments, have no desire to commit such grave sins. For in the present age, Babylon is always going to destruction and burning up in part.”
That is really interesting and fascinating isn’t it?
The question, of course, is WHO or WHAT is Babylon?
There are many theories obviously
The TWO primary theories are that Babylon is a SYMBOL OF ROME
Babylon is a SYMBOL OF JERUSALEM
There is SO MUCH EVIDENCE that it could be EITHER
That’s the crazy part
Think about Rome and all of the blood of the martyrs that the Roman Empire shed in those first centuries of Christianity
At the same time, remember in the Old Testament the way in which the prophets spoke about Jerusalem as being UNFAITHFUL
As being UNRESPONSIVE TO GOD’S PROMISES
There are a number of reason you could make the case for ROME being Babylon or JERUSALEM being Babylon
What this ultimately means for us…it’s important, right?
Obviously it matters whether this is Rome or Jerusalem
In some ways you could say it could be BOTH
What we’re really talking about when we are reading Revelation, YES we are reading something from the PAST
We are reading about the Revelation to John of this judgment that came upon the ancient peoples
We are also reading about OUR OWN LIVES
That’s why St. Caesarius of Arles had his words pointing out that one of the reminders of Revelation is for US
“Am I being faithful? Am I walking in the Lord?”
Because God WILL JUDGE US
Yes, he is MERCIFUL
He is also JUST
We are going to hear tomorrow in our conclusion that God, at some point, WILL SET EVERYTHING RIGHT!!
We want to be the people he vindicates, that he sets right
So there is The Rejoicing in Heaven in Ch 19
They are saying, “Hallelujah!”
Hallelujah literally means “Praise the Lord”
We want to be among those people who are able to praise the Lord
There’s The Thousand Years and Satan is locked up and then he is released for a period of time
Those are very important things
Ultimately we have at the end of Ch 20 The Dead are Judged
There is a RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD
Those who are FIRST resurrected are the MARTYRS
They get to REIGN with the Lord and serve as PRIESTS with the Lord
Then everyone else who has died is RESURRECTED
Don’t know if you know this, but YOU ARE GETTING YOUR BODY BACK
That’s the ancient Christian belief
YOU ARE GETTING YOUR BODY BACK!!
In the Resurrection of the Body, you will get your body back
Whether your body is restored to you for GLORY
Whether it is restored to you for SHAME
Whether is is restored to you for PRAISING GOD
Whether it is restored to you for the sake of DESTRUCTION IN HELL
EVERYONE GETS THEIR BODY BACK
Revelation 20:14-15, “...This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Remember, it says MULTIPLE TIMES they will be JUDGED by WHAT THEY HAD DONE
Revelation 20:12-13, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.”
That’s the reality
OUR DECISIONS MATTER!!
OUR DECISIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!
They don’t just echo in time
They also echo in ETERNITY
So we say, “Lord, for all those things that I have done, when I have failed you, please cover me with your Blood.”
And that is Hebrews
OH MY GOSH!!
HOW INCREDIBLE IS THIS??
Yes, there is JUDGMENT
Here in The Letter to the Hebrews we have this ABSOLUTE DECLARATION that Christ’s Blood TAKES AWAY OUR SINS
Now here is the interesting part
Don’t know if you ever noticed this…
We have Christmas where Jesus Christ becomes one of us in the Incarnation
We have the celebration of The Passion of Christ and Easter
So you have Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday for the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus
WHICH IS INCREDIBLE!!
HERE IS GOD’S LOVE FOR US!!
We also have the Feast of the Ascension!
So many of us UNDERESTIMATE the Ascension
Here is what Hebrews is all about
It talks about the Old Covenant, the Old Temple, and here’s what the priest would do
Once a year they would go in the Temple and in that place they would offer up the sacrifice of bulls and goats
That kind of thing
Here is the ABSOLUTE KEY
Hebrews 9:11-12, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) [meaning WHEN HE ENTERED INTO HEAVEN] he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”
What he just described there…OH MY GOSH…is THE ASCENSION!!
We sometimes get lost in The Ascension
Here is Jesus ascending to Heaven and telling the Apostles, “Hey wait for the promised Holy Spirit that will come upon you.”
And that’s it
He’s just leaving
He wasn’t JUST leaving
What was he doing?
HE WAS ENTERING INTO THE SANCTUARY!!
HE WAS ENTERING INTO HEAVEN WITH THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF PRESENTED BEFORE GOD!!
OH MY GOSH!!
THIS IS INSANE!!
Just like the priest would go into the Holy of Holies, Jesus ascends into Heaven
Jesus is the GREAT HIGH PRIEST entering into the ACTUAL HOLY OF HOLIES
Remember the Temple was made as a COPY, as a FORESHADOW of what ACTUALLY EXISTS IN REALITY in Heaven
When the High Priest goes into that COPY he is bringing with him something that is LIMITED
When Jesus Christ, the GREAT HIGH PRIEST, entered into Heaven he brought a Sacrifice that is UNLIMITED
His ONE Sacrifice ONCE FOR ALL
Hopefully that makes sense!!
IT IS REMARKABLE!!
IT IS INCREDIBLE!!
We get to conclude our journey tomorrow (Hey! I’m not crying! You’re crying!! 😉)
It has been an INCREDIBLE JOURNEY to be able to walk with you
Please know that this journey is NOT OVER
We can continue to walk with each other not just tomorrow
Even the day after tomorrow…
And the day after that…
And the day after that…
Because 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 and glory. We thank you for 364 DAYS of hearing your Word and letting ourselves be shaped by your Word. Thank you for speaking to us. Thank you for continuing to call us your children. Thank you for even speaking to us of judgment that is coming. We ask you Lord please help us always, ALWAYS to repent of our sins, to come back to you. Help us always to not rely on our own faithfulness because, Lord God, we know that we are not. We are not faithful. But you ARE faithful. So please help us to belong to you. Help us to be faithful to you. Even when we sin, help us to rely upon the great Sacrifice of your Son, the Blood that takes away sins. Because, Lord God, when your Son offered himself, he offered himself to you for us. So please receive the Sacrifice of your Son and once again bestow that mercy upon us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”