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To: All

From: Revelation 5:1-10

The Sealed Scroll and the Lamb


[1] And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll writ-
ten within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; [2] and I saw a strong angel
proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its
seals?” [3] And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open
the scroll or to look into it, [4] and I wept much that no one was found worthy to
open the scroll or to look into it. [5] Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep
not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that
he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

[6] And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I
saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with se-
ven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; [7] and he
went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
[8] And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four
elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full
of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; [9] and they sang a new song, sa-
ying, “Worthy are thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain
and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and peo-
ple and nation, [10] and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and
they shall reign on earth.”

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Commentary:

1-5. The sealed scroll contains God’s mysterious plans for the salvation of man-
kind; no one on earth can disclose them (v. 3). Only the risen Christ can take
the scroll and make its contents known (vv. 6-7). On this account he is praised
by the four living creatures, by the elders (vv. 8-10), by a whole host of angels (vv.
11-12) and by all creation (vv. 13-14).

The image of a scroll (or book) containing God’s hidden plans for mankind was
used before, particularly by the prophet Daniel (cf. Dan 12:4-9; also Is 29:11),
who refers to a prophecy remaining sealed until the end of time. St John uses
this image to make the point that the End Time, the Last Days, have already be-
gun with Christ, so now he can reveal God’s plans. The fact that there are seven
seals stresses the hidden nature of the scroll’s contents; and its being written
on both sides shows its richness.

The author of the Book of Revelation, and everyone in fact, really does need to
know what is written on the scroll; for, if he knows God’s plans he will be able to
discover the meaning of life and cease to be anxious about events past, present
and future. Yet no one is able to open the scroll: that is why the author weeps
so bitterly.

The scroll is sealed: the Revelation of the salvation of mankind and the consola-
tion of the Church is being delayed. Soon, however, the seer ceases to weep, for
he learns that Christ (here called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” and “the Root”
or descendant of David: cf. Gen 49:9; Is 11:1, 10) has conquered and therefore is
able, to break the seven seals.

The Church contemplates Christ’s victory when it “believes that Christ, who died
and was raised for the sake of all, can show man the way and strengthen him
through the Spirit in order to be worthy of his destiny [...]. The Church likewise
believes that the key, the center and the purpose of the whole of man’s history
is to be found in its Lord and Master” (Vatican II, “Gaudium Et Spes”, 10).

“In fact,” the Council adds, “it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that
the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of
him who was to come (cf. Rom 5:14). Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in
the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man
to himself and brings to light his most high calling” (ibid., 22).

6-7. Christ is able to open the scroll on account of his death and resurrection,
an event symbolized by the Lamb standing upright and victorious and at the
same time looking as though it had been immolated. In the Fourth Gospel, John
the Baptist calls Christ “the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29, 36); in the Apocalypse this
expression is the one most often used to refer to him: he is the Lamb raised to
the very height of God’s throne and has dominion over the entire cosmos (cf. 5:8,
12-13; 6:1, 16; 7:9-10; 13:8; 15:3; etc.). This Christological title, which is a fea-
ture of St John’s writings, has great theological depth; the Church reverses it,
using it frequently in the liturgy — particularly in the Mass, after the kiss of peace
when the Lamb of God is invoked three times; also, just before Holy Communion
is distributed the host is shown to the faithful as him who takes away the sin of
the world and those who are called to his marriage supper are described as
“happy” (cf. Rev 19:9).

The image of the Lamb reminds us of the passover lamb, whose blood was
smeared on the door frames of houses as a sign to the avenging angel not to in-
flict on Israelites the divine punishment being dealt out to the Egyptians (cf. Ex
12:7, 13). St Paul refers to the Lamb in one of his letters: “Christ, our paschal
lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5: 7). At a high point in Old Testament prophe-
cy Isaiah portrays the Messiah as the suffering Servant of Yahweh, “a lamb that
is led to the slaughter” (Is 53:7). St Peter, on the basis of that text, states that
our Lord “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live
to righteousness” (1 Pet 2:24).

The Lamb is a sacrifice for sin, but the Apocalypse also focuses attention on the
victorious power of the risen Lamb by showing him standing on the throne, in the
center of the vision; the horns symbolize his power and the eyes his knowledge,
both of which he has to the fullest degree as indicated by the number seven. The
seven spirits of Christ also indicate the fullness of the Spirit with which Christ is
endowed and which he passes on to his Church (cf. notes on Rev 1:4 and 4:5).
This completes the description of the risen Christ, who through his victory re-
veals the mystery of God.

8-10. The greatness of Christ the Lamb is duly acknowledged and proclaimed
through the worship rendered him, firstly, from the four living creatures and the
twenty-four elders, then from all the angels and finally from the whole of creation
(vv. 11-13). St John selects these three points to highlight on the praise rendered
by the heavenly Church, with which the pilgrim Church on earth joins through its
own prayer (symbolized by the image of the golden bowls). Later on (15:7ff),
seven bowls appear again, this time filled with God’s wrath, which is caused by
the complaint of the righteous who are being cruelly tormented by the agents of
evil.

All this shows the value of the prayers of those who stay loyal to God: “the pra-
yer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (Jas 5: 16), for “the prayer
of the humble pierces the clouds, and he will not be consoled until it reaches the
Lord” (Sir 35:17).

The “new song” proclaims that Christ alone decides the destinies of the world
and of mankind; this is a consequence of himself being offered in sacrifice as the
atoning victim “par excellence”. By shedding his blood Christ has won for himself
an immense people, from every nation under heaven; in them, a holy people, his
chosen ones that people which was originally assembled in the Sinai desert (cf.
Ex 19:6; 1 Pet 2:9f) has come to full maturity. When it says that they have been
ransomed from every tribe and nation, it is pointing out that God’s salvific plans
extend to the whole human race: he “desires all men to be saved and to come to
the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). This does not exempt us from making an
effort to merit salvation, for, as St Augustine teaches, “God who created you with-
out your cooperation will not save you without your cooperation” (”Sermon” 169,
11). Here is how another early writer puts it: “we know that God will give to each
individual the opportunity to be saved — to some in one way, to others in another.
But whether we respond eagerly or listlessly depends on ourselves” (Cassian,
“Collationes”, 3, 12).

“Didst ransom men for God”: in many important Greek manuscripts this reads,
“you ransomed us for God”, and some even change the reading of the following
verse: “you made us a kingdom...and we will reign”. The earlier Latin translation,
the Vulgate, chose that reading, which emphasizes that those who are intoning
the chant are men, that is, members of the Church triumphant in heaven. The
new official Latin version, the New Vulgate, follows what it considers to be the
most reliable Greek text. But the meaning does not really change.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


6 posted on 11/21/2012 10:53:32 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Luke 19:41-44

Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem


[41] And when He (Jesus) drew near and saw the city He wept over it, [42]
saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But
now they are hid from your eyes. [43] For the days shall come upon you, when
your enemies will cast a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on
every side, [44] and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you,
and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not
know the time of your visitation.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

41-44. When the procession reaches a place where there is a good view of the
city, they are disconcerted by Jesus’ unexpected weeping. Our Lord explains
why He is weeping, by prophesying the destruction of the city which He loved
so much: not one stone will remain on another, and its inhabitants will be mas-
sacred—a prophecy which was fulfilled in the year 70, when Titus razed the city
and the temple was destroyed. These historical events will be a punishment
for Jerusalem failing to recognize the time of its visitation, that is, for closing its
gates to the salvific coming of the Redeemer. Jesus loved the Jews with a very
special love: they were the first to whom the Gospel was preached (cf. Matthew
10:5-6); to them He directed His ministry (cf. Matthew 15:24); He showed by His
word and by His miracles that He was the Son of God and the Messiah foretold
in the Scriptures. But the Jews for the most part failed to appreciate the grace
the Lord was offering them; their leaders led them to the extreme of calling for
Jesus to be crucified.

Jesus visits every one of us; He comes as our Savior; He teaches us through
the preaching of the Church; He gives us forgiveness and grace through the sa-
craments. We should not reject our Lord, we should not remain indifferent to
His visit.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


7 posted on 11/21/2012 10:54:28 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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