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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Seven Sacraments and the Book of Revelation

We have seen prefigurements in the Old Testament concerning the 7 Sacraments, like the manna in the desert – that miraculous bread from heaven. That it prefigures the Eucharist given to us by Jesus. Let us now though turn to the end of the story and look in the book of Revelation and see how it alludes to the 7 sacraments.

Where is Baptism in the Book of Revelation.

Baptism is seen at the very beginning of the Book of Revelation in the letter to Sardis in Revelation 3:4-5    Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.   He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

This garment that they have received is Christ himself as it says in Galatians 3:27   For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Revelation 7:9-14 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.... Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?"   I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Ironically we don’t normally think of washing clothes in blood coming out white, yet this is what happens to our souls when the blood of Christ is poured over us in our baptism.

Finally in Revelation 22:1 Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb

This water was first seen at the crucifixion of our lord when the water came out of the temple of his body that he would later raise and take into heaven.

Where do we see confirmation in the Revelation

During the rite of confirmation the bishop says – be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit

Revelation 7:2 Then I saw another angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads." And I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed, out of every tribe of the sons of Israel,

We also see that the seal that is received is the very name of God.

Revelation 22:3-4    There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him;   they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads.

All of this points us to the effects of confirmation.

Where do we see the Eucharist?

We see in the book of revelation Old Testament types that now find their fulfillment in the Eucharist.

Revelation 2:7   He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'

Revelation 2:17    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna.

Revelation 22:2    through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Is confession in Revelation.

Not explicitly, but a call to repentance is..

Revelation 2:4-7    But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.   Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.   Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.   He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'

Hopefully this call to repentance would lead the hearers to confession.

How about Marriage

In the book of Revelation, marriage finds its fulfillment in the bride – meaning those who follow Christ, and in the bridegroom – Christ.

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;

Revelation 21:9  Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."

Revelation 19:8 it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.


Elder in Greek is presbuteros, where we get the word priest in English.

Just as in the garden of Eden Marriage is so obvious, the same is true in the book of Revelation and the priesthood. The entire book is Liturgical. Revelation 4:4    Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads.

Finally the anointing of the sick.

Revelation 2:10-11    Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.   He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.'

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Providence of God in the Midst of Suffering

Today we are going to talk about suffering and the providence of God. What does the Bible say about God’s providence?

So many people worry, especially in economically hard times, that their financial life is falling apart and some unfortunately despair and take drastic measures to relieve themselves of these burdens.

Yet our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we are going through and has foreseen it from the beginning of time. Not only does God know that bad times will come to us, but he allows them to come. This has made some people question if God is truly all good. Let me assure you that God is the greatest good and that all goodness comes from God.

Let us shed some light God’s goodness by looking at the worst sin ever committed – The crucifixion of Jesus our Savior. Jesus, who is without sin before God and man, lead a life of good works and innocence, oh yes and is the very creator and sustainer of the universe – was tortured and put to death on our behalf so that we – who crucified him with our sins – might go to heaven. We call that terrible, tortuous day – Good Friday. Why? Because out of the worst sin in the world came our salvation.

Now if God can take the worst thing ever and transform it into something amazing, don’t you think he can do the same for you on your worst day?

Listen to what St. Paul says:

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

He says – for those who love God, that is us – God makes all things work for good.

Like Joseph in the Old Testament

Now Joseph in the Old Testament was hated by his brothers, threatened to be killed by them, was sold into slavery, and then falsely accused of attacking the wife of his boss, and put in prison. Now is anyone is having a rough time, it is Joseph.

Yet all of this suffering leads ultimately to his exaltation to the right hand of Pharaoh, and not only to the salvation of his family, but all of Egypt and beyond.

Now we can imagine the range of emotions that he would have had throughout this ordeal, but had he known where this would lead – meaning his exaltation, wouldn’t it be possible to find even joy in all of his sufferings.

Shouldn’t we who have faith in God’s goodness have this attitude?

Listen to what he says to his brothers when he finally confronts them. The scene is in Egypt and his brothers are before him and don’t recognize his, thinking he has died. Joseph finally reveals himself and his brothers cower in fear thinking he is going to exact his revenge on them, yet he says this:

Genesis 45:4 So Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, I pray you." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.  So it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Joseph is close enough to God, that he sees God’s plan. Joseph says, “It was not you that sent me here, but God.”

So by his example, we see that we have cause to rejoice in our sufferings, because God who loves us and desires heaven for us, wills all things in our lives to lead us closer to Him even our sufferings.

Jesus also talks about God the Father’s providence.

In the sermon on the mount Jesus says this:

Matthew 6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Jesus says – Everyone in the world worries about these things, and God knows about it. But trust God, and seek first holiness and the gospel message and God will provide for you not only for today, but for eternity.

Finally though, we must use prudence in all things. I am reminded of the joke about the man who prays to God to be saved from a flood; a boat comes by and those on board exhort the man to get in the boat. The man says – no, no, God will save me. Later he is in the second story window when another boat comes and offers to rescue him and he responds – no, no – the Lord will save me. Into the evening he is on his roof while the waves of the water lap higher and a helicopter comes by and drops a ladder and those on board yell for him t0 climb up. He yells up – no, no, God will save me – well the man drowns, goes to heaven and meets God. He says – God why didn’t you save me? God says – I sent you two boats and a helicopter.