Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 504. Rev. 14:14-19. Psalm 96:10, 11-12,13. Luke
Scripture often alludes to cosmic power. Today's scenes from the Book of
Revelation are completely cosmic in scope and lead to the judgment of God
upon all who are evil doers; they will experience the wrath of God at the
time of harvest. These images of power reflect the great descripition of
God and Jesus as the Pantokrator, the Almighty One. You may get an idea of
how magnificent this image of God is by visiting a Greek or Russian
Orthodox Church or a Byzantine Catholic Church. There high above the altar
is a huge mosaic, painting, or icon of Jesus as Pantokrator. Keep this in
mind as you read about the power of God vested in Jesus his Son who will
come to judge the living and the dead. Two angels and the Son of God are
the ones who do the harvesting and have a sickle in their hands. The
harvest consists of the grain to be reaped and the wine to be crushed from
the grapes into the winepress of God described as a winepress of wrath.
Again we think of the Beast, the Devil, and the evil power mongers of the
world who are headed for that winepress. The faithful have nothing to fear,
but are awed by what they see and hear.
The Psalm response harmonizes with this first reading:"The Lord comes to
judge the earth." Many of its verses also chime in with the judgment of God
but we never forget God's mercy which outweighs his justice. We should
read the entire psalm to catch its power and majesty. One great commentator
says this, "The proclamation of the kingship of God is linked up with the
declaration of the two foundational pillars of the universe. The order of
nature in creation and the order of history in judgment are planned by God
in such a way that they are turned to each other and supplement each other,
being both directed towards their common goal, and that goal is the
realization of the 'righteousness of God' in his plan of
salvation." (Weiser, p.630).
Fortunately, as believers we realize and acknowledge that the Lord rules
with justice and mercy. God rules with constancy and fidelity to the
promises made from the beginning of our human history and the mystery of
God working within it as Savior.
The Gospel has Jesus predicting the destruction of the most holy city on
earth, Jerusalem. This will actually take place during the years of 68-73
A.D. Luke, of course, is writing this while knowing full well the story of
the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. The paragraph has an introduction to
the theme of the fall of Jerusalem, an exhortation, and then the
manifestation of the power of Roman warfare. This is not the end of the
world but Luke uses it as a way of making us think about the end times. The
day of reckoning is in the future, but it is definitely there as a reality
that no one can escape. Our passage therefore is a prefigurement of the Day
of the Lord. The "Dies Irae" chant haunts us in this reading. Amen.
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