"Come up here and I will show you what must happen afterwards." Revelation 4:1
The two readings for today’s Mass sent me to the Internet to refresh my memory on "Literary Devices." One website said: "Commonly, the term Literary Devices refers to the typical structures used by writers in their works to convey his or her message(s) in a simple manner to his or her readers. When employed properly, the different literary devices help readers to appreciate, interpret and analyze a literary work."
The Literary Device that John uses in the first reading failed to make me "appreciate, interpret and analyze" this text. It failed to make it easier for me to understand. I had to sit with it for a while in order to make some sense of it. I still don’t know if I am in the right track. I got distracted with all of the imagery that John describes in his "vision." The instruction by the trumpet-like voice was quickly forgotten: "Come up here and I will show you what must happen afterwards." Images such as thrones, elders with golden crows, flaming torches and four living creatures did not do much for my appreciation of this Literary Device. It was not until I reread the last part of the reading that I began realize what John might be telling me. We will find our ultimate expression and fulfillment in the Worship of God. There will be no greater desire or joy that we can have in the future than to Worship God! This is our ultimate future.
The Gospel offers us another Literary Device: a parable. I didn’t have much difficulty in figuring out the meaning of this parable. I am sure that the people who were following Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem didn’t have much problem with it either, especially the religious leaders. These leaders had already begun to conspire against Jesus, trying to find a way as to how they could put him to death. So when Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God is like this nobleman who goes on a journey, and leaves his servants with gold pieces, they quick understand that Jesus is speaking about himself as the nobleman. When Jesus continues and says that "his fellow citizens despised him," and they sent a delegation to stop him from returning, they know that Jesus is talking about them. So, at the end of the parable, Jesus lets them know that it is not going to go well with them. We are either faithful to the graces that God gives us or we reject them.
As we end the Liturgical year, the Mass readings will continue to remind us of two things: first, God is our ultimate fulfillment and second, our path to God is through God’s Son, Jesus. Those who worship other "gods," whether it is power or money or status, will never find ultimate fulfillment in God. And those who reject Jesus and the Gospel he came proclaiming will also fail to find the God of Life and Love.
May we love God with our whole heart, mind and soul and our neighbor as ourselves!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago, Illinois.