As we move closer to the very end of our Church liturgical year, we make our way through the Book of Revelation. The imagery of John’s visions has he has put them down are almost impossible to imagine. But through all these incredible and at times fearful visions, there runs a thread of hope and trust in God.
We see this in our first reading for today. After John sees seven angels with the seven last plagues, he sees “something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast and its image and the number that signified its name. They were holding God’s harps, and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.”
What this vision tells me is that it is possible to win victory “over the beast,” whatever the “beast” may be for us, whether its addiction or resentment or fear or despair. It is possible to win victory in Jesus Christ! We cannot do it on our own. This is what Jesus tells us in our Gospel reading from Luke, as He warns His disciples about the coming persecutions: “they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” However we may confront the things that bedevil us, we have the wisdom that comes from putting our complete trust in the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. All the things I mentioned above, and much more, need not crush us or defeat us! God’s love for us is everlasting! And so Jesus can say to us, without any hesitation, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.