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To: All

From: Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

Reason for Writing


[9] I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the king-
dom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of’
the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. [10] I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s
day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet [11a] saying, “Write what
you see in a book.”

[12] Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw
seven golden lampstands, [13] and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son
of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast.

[17] When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand
upon me. saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, [18] and the living one; I
died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
[19] Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter.”

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

9-20. After greeting the churches (vv. 4-8) the author explains his reason for wri-
ting: he has been commanded to do so by his glorious Lord, in a vision of the
risen Christ concerning his Church.

In Sacred Scripture God’s messages are frequently communicated to prophets in
the form of a vision (cf. Is 6; Ezek 1:4-3:15; etc.; Zech 1:7-2:9; etc.). Accounts
of divine visions are particularly found in “books of revelation” or apocalypses,
such as Daniel 8-12, and also in other Jewish and Christian writings of the time
immediately before and after Christ’s life on earth: although not included in the
canon of the Bible, these writings were designed to keep up Christians’ morale
in times of persecution. In a genuinely prophetic vision God elevates the prophet’s
mind to enable him to understand what God desires to tell him (cf. “Summa Theo-
logiae,” II-II, q. 173, a. 3). In the Apocalypse, when St John reports his vision he
is making known the message given him by the risen Christ: Christ is continuing
to speak to his Church in a number of ways, including the exhortations and tea-
chings contained in this book.

9-11. Like other prophets and apostles (cf. Ezek 3:12; Acts 10:10; 22:17; 2 Cor
12:2-3), John feels himself caught up by a divine force; in an ecstasy he hears
the voice of our Lord; its power and strength he describes as a trumpet.

Some scholars think that the seven churches listed here were chosen because
of their particular situation at the time. They stand for the entire Church universal,
and therefore what is said in the seven letters is addressed to all Christians who,
in one way or another, find themselves in situations similar to that of these
churches of proconsular Asia.

The Apostles’ vigilant care of the Church is discernible in many of the letters they
addressed to their communities. Like St Paul (cf. 2 Cor 11:28; 1 Thess 2:2), the
other Apostles felt anxiety for all the churches. St Peter, for example, wrote to el-
ders telling them to be good shepherds of the flock God gave into their care, ten-
ding it “not by constraint but willingly, as God would have you, not for shameful
gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being exam-
ples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2-3).

This pastoral solicitude leads St John to show solidarity with the joy and afflic-
tion of Christians of his day. His consoling words come from someone who well
knows (because he has learned it from Jesus and later from his own experience)
that fidelity to the Gospel calls for self-denial and even martyrdom. Communion
and solidarity are wonderful features of the mystical body of Christ: they stem
from the fact that all Christians are united to each other and to Jesus Christ, the
head of that body which is the Church (cf. Col 1:18; Eph 4:16; etc.). The visiona-
ry of Patmos clearly has tremendous love for Christ and for the Church. We
should remember that “charity more than any other virtue unites us closely with
Christ, and it is the heavenly ardor of this love which has caused so many sons
and daughters of the Church to rejoice in suffering contumely for his sake, joy-
fully to meet and overcome the severest trials, and even to shed their blood and
die for him” (Pius XII, “Mystici Corporis”, 33).

From the very start of his public ministry our Lord foretold how much his followers
would have to suffer for his sake. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, he
said, “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds
of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt
5:11-12).

“The Lord’s day”: the “dies Dominica”, Sunday, the day which the Church, ever
since the apostolic age, keeps as its weekly holy day in place of the Jewish
sabbath, because it is the day on which Jesus rose from the dead: “on this day
Christ’s faithful are bound to come together into one place. They should listen to
the word of God and take part in the Eucharist, thus calling to mind the passion,
resurrection, and glory of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God by whom they
have been begotten ‘anew through the resurrection of Christ from the dead, unto
a living hope’ (1 Pet 1:3)” (Vatican II, “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 106). This day
should be sanctified by attending Mass and also by giving time to other devo-
tions, rest, and activities which help build up friendship with others, especially
in the family circle.

12-16. The lampstands in this first vision symbolize the churches at prayer; they
remind us of the seven-branched candlestick (the “menorah”) which used to burn
in the temple of Jerusalem and which is described in detail in Exodus 25:31-20.
In the midst of the candlestick, as if guarding and governing the churches, a
mysterious figure appears, in the form of a man. The expression “son of man”
originates in Daniel 7:14 where, as here, it refers to someone depicted as Judge
at the end of time. The various symbols used indicate his importance. His “long
robe” shows his priesthood (cf. Ex 28:4; Zech 3:4); the golden girdle, his king-
ship (cf. 1 Mac 10:89); his white hair, his eternity (cf. Dan 7:9); his eyes “like
a flame of fire” symbolize his divine wisdom (cf. Rev 2:23), and his bronze feet
his strength and stability.

The seven stars stand for the angels of the seven churches (cf. v. 20), and our
Lord’s holding them in his hand is a sign of his power and providence. Finally,
the splendor of his face recalls the Old Testament theophanies or apparitions,
and the sound coming from his mouth shows the power of his word (cf. Heb 4:
12).

It is interesting to note that our Lord used the title “son of man” to refer to him-
self (cf., e.g., Mt 9:6; Mk 10:45; Lk 6:22); it is always used in St John’s Gospel
to indicate Christ’s divinity and transcendence (cf., e.g., Jn 1:51; 3:14; 9:35; 12:
23).

“Burnished bronze”: Latin versions transliterate the original as “orichalc”, a shi-
ning alloy of bronze and gold.

17-19. When the glory of Christ, or the glory of God, is manifested, man becomes
so conscious of his insignificance and unworthiness that he is unable to remain
standing in his presence. This happened to the Israelites at Sinai (cf. Ex 19:16-24)
and to the Apostles on Mount Tabor (cf. Mk 9:2-8 and par.). A person who experi-
ences the divine presence in a vision reacts in the same way (cf. Ezek 1:29f; Dan
8:18; etc.), and in the case of the Apocalypse it happens when Christ is seen in
glory surrounded by his Church. However, the risen Christ’s first word to his follo-
wers was one of peace and assurance (cf., e.g., Mt 28:5, 10), and here he places
his right hand on the seer’s head in a gesture of protection.

The risen Christ is depicted as reassuring the Christian, who sees him as having
absolute dominion over all things (he is the first and the last) though he shared
man’s mortal nature. By his death and resurrection Christ has overcome death; he
has dominion over death and over the mysterious world beyond the grave — Hades,
the place of the dead (cf. Num 16:33). “Christ is alive. This is the great truth which
fills our faith with meaning. Jesus, who died on the cross, has risen. He has tri-
umphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness”
(St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 102).

The vision St John is given is meant for the benefit of the whole Church, as can be
seen from the fact that he is told to write down what he sees; it is connected with
contemporary events and with the future. The immediate context of the vision is
the salvation of the churches mentioned and the glory of Christ who is caring for
them (chaps. 2-3); the future has to do with the afflictions the Church must under-
go and the full establishment of Christ’s kingdom: his second coming will mean
definitive victory over the powers of evil (cf. chaps. 4-22).

*********************************************************************************************
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.


5 posted on 04/06/2013 9:11:44 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: John 20:19-31

Jesus Appears to the Disciples


[19] On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors shut where
the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and
said to them, “Peace be with you.” [20] When He had said this, He showed them
His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
[21] Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me,
even so I send you.” [22] And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and
said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive the sins of any, they are
forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

[24] Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when
Jesus came. [25] So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But
he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my
finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

[26] Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was
with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and
said, “Peace be with you.” [27] Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here,
and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be
faithless, but believing.” [28] Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!”
[29] Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Bles-
sed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

[30] Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which
are not written in this book; [31] but these are written that you may believe that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His
name.

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

19-20. Jesus appears to the Apostles on the evening of the day of which He rose.
He presents Himself in their midst without any need for the doors to be opened,
by using the qualities of His glorified body; but in order to dispel any impression
that He is only a spirit He shows them His hands and His side: there is no lon-
ger any doubt about its being Jesus Himself, about His being truly risen from the
dead. He greets them twice using the words of greeting customary among the
Jews, with the same tenderness as He previously used put into this salutation.
These friendly words dispel the fear and shame the Apostles must have been
feeling at behaving so disloyally during His passion: He has created the normal
atmosphere of intimacy, and now He will endow them with transcendental po-
wers.

21. Pope Leo XIII explained how Christ transferred His own mission to the Apos-
tles: “What did He wish in regard to the Church founded, or about to be founded?
This: to transmit to it the same mission and the same mandate which He had
received from the Father, that they should be perpetuated. This He clearly re-
solved to do: this He actually did. ‘As the Father hath sent Me, even so I send
you’ (John 20:21). ‘As Thou didst send Me into the world, so I have sent them
into the world’ (John 17:18). [...] When about to ascend into Heaven, He sends
His Apostles in virtue of the same power by which He had been sent from the
Father; and He charges them to spread abroad and propagate His teachings (cf.
Matthew 28:18), so that those obeying the Apostles might be saved, and those
disobeying should perish (cf. Mark 16:16). [...] Hence He commands that the
teaching of the Apostles should be religiously accepted and piously kept as if
it were His own: ‘He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects
Me’ (Luke 10:16). Wherefore the Apostles are ambassadors of Christ as He is
the ambassador of the Father” (Leo XIII, “Satis Cognitum”). In this mission the
bishops are the successors of the Apostles: “Christ sent the Apostles as He
Himself had been sent by the Father, and then through the Apostles made their
successors, the bishops, sharers in His consecration and mission. The func-
tion of the bishops’ ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests
so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers
of the episcopal order for the proper fulfillment of the apostolic mission that had
been entrusted to it by Christ” (Vatican II, “Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 2).

22-23. The Church has always understood—and has in fact defined—that Jesus
Christ here conferred on the Apostles authority to forgive sins, a power which is
exercised in the Sacrament of Penance. “The Lord then especially instituted the
Sacrament of Penance when, after being risen from the dead, He breathed upon
His disciples and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit...’ The consensus of all the Fa-
thers has always acknowledged that by this action so sublime and words so
clear the power of forgiving and retaining sins was given to the Apostles and
their lawful successors for reconciling the faithful who have fallen after Baptism”
(Council of Trent, “De Paenitentia”, Chapter 1).

The Sacrament of Penance is the most sublime expression of God’s love and
mercy towards men, described so vividly in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son
(cf. Luke 15:11-32). The Lord always awaits us, with His arms wide open, wai-
ting for us to repent—and then He will forgive us and restore us to the dignity of
being His sons.

The Popes have consistently recommended Christians to have regular recourse
to this Sacrament: “For a constant and speedy advancement in the path of virtue
we highly recommend the pious practice of frequent Confession, introduced by
the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; for by this means we grow in
a true knowledge of ourselves and in Christian humility, bad habits are uprooted,
spiritual negligence and apathy are prevented, the conscience is purified and the
will strengthened, salutary spiritual direction is obtained, and grace is increased
by the efficacy of the Sacrament itself” (Pius XII, “Mystici Corporis”).

24-28. Thomas’ doubting moves our Lord to give him special proof that His risen
body is quite real. By so doing He bolsters the faith of those who would later on
find faith in Him. “Surely you do not think”, [Pope] St. Gregory the Great com-
ments, “that is was a pure accident that the chosen disciple was missing; who
on his return was told about the appearance and on hearing about it doubted;
doubting, so that he might touch and believe by touching? It was not an acci-
dent; God arranged that it should happen. His clemency acted in this wonderful
way so that through the doubting disciple touching the wounds in His Master’s
body, our own wounds of incredulity might be healed. [...] And so the disciple,
doubting and touching, was changed into a witness of the truth of the Resurrec-
tion” (”In Evangelia Homiliae”, 26, 7).

Thomas’ reply is not simply an exclamation: it is an assertion, an admirable act
of faith in the divinity of Christ: “My Lord and my God!” These words are an eja-
culatory prayer often used by Christians, especially as an act of faith in the real
presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.

29. [Pope] St. Gregory the Great explains these words of our Lord as follows:
“By St. Paul saying ‘faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of
things unseen’ (Hebrews 11:1), it becomes clear that faith has to do with things
which are not seen, for those which are seen are no longer the object of faith, but
rather of experience. Well then, why is Thomas told, when he saw and touched,
‘Because you have seen, you have believed?’ Because he saw one thing, and be-
lieved another. It is certain that mortal man cannot see divinity; therefore, he saw
the man and recognized Him as God, saying, ‘My Lord and my God.’ In conclu-
sion: seeing, he believed, because contemplating that real man he exclaimed
that He was God, whom he could not see” (”In Evangelia Homiliae”, 27, 8).

Like everyone else Thomas needed the grace of God to believe, but in addition to
this grace he was given an exceptional proof; his faith would have had more merit
had he accepted the testimony of the other Apostles. Revealed truths are normal-
ly transmitted by word, by the testimony of other people who, sent by Christ and
aided by the Holy Spirit, preach the deposit of faith (cf. Mark 16:15-16). “So faith
comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the preaching of Christ”
(Romans 10:17). The preaching of the Gospel, therefore, carries with it sufficient
guarantees of credibility, and by accepting that preaching man “offers the full
submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals, willingly assenting to the
revelation given” (Vatican II, “Dei Verbum”, 5).

“What follows pleases us greatly: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet
believe.’ For undoubtedly it is we who are meant, who confess with our soul Him
whom we have not seen in the flesh. It refers to us, provided we live in accor-
dance with the faith, for only he truly believes who practices what he believes”
(”In Evangelia Homiliae”, 26, 9).

30-31. This is a kind of first epilogue or conclusion to the Gospel of St. John.
The more common opinion is that he added Chapter 21 later, which covers such
important events as the triple confession of St. Peter, confirmation of his prima-
cy and our Lord’s prophecy about the death of the beloved disciple. These verses
sum up the inspired writer’s whole purpose in writing his Gospel — to have men
believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ announced by the prophets in
the Old Testament, the Son of God, so that by believing this saving truth, which
is the core of Revelation, they might already begin to partake of eternal life (cf.
John 1:12, 2:23; 3:18; 14:13; 15:16; 16:23-26).

*********************************************************************************************
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 04/06/2013 9:13:02 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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